Tuesday, June 30, 2015

Game Thread: New York Yankees @ Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim 6/30

For the second time in as many nights the New York Yankees and the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim will face off head-to-head inside Angels Stadium in Anaheim. The good news is this is the last time these two teams face off in the middle of the night for us East Coast dwellers while the bad news is this game seems like the stereotypical trap game for New York. The Yankees are sending Ivan Nova to the mound looking to build off a strong start last time out but the team faces off against Andrew Heaney in just his second start of the season as well. Either the Yankees will have a huge lead after the first few innings or the team will be calling the Angels starter Nolan Heaney, there will be no in-between unfortunately. Find out which scenario will come true at 10:05 on the YES Network and MLB TV.

The Yankees have one more game out west with this club before an off day on Thursday and before beginning a big weekend series with the Tampa Bay Rays in the Bronx this weekend. Get your Yankees tickets for that series by clicking the Yankees Tickets link at the top of the blog to grab your pair of seats without paying the bulky shipping costs or annoying fees that those other guys associate with their sale. If you can’t make it to the Bronx then that’s no problem at all, simply jump on Twitter (@GreedyStripes) and/or the comments section of the blog to interact with us during each and every Yankees game that doesn’t begin right at my bedtime and end just a couple hours before I have to be up and at work. J

I will stay up as long as my old bones will let me because I am excited to see how Nova bounces back in his second start. Go Nova and Go Yankees!

Cashman, Yankees plan to keep Sabathia in rotation

The big man can rest easy a little longer.

The Yankees have no plans to remove CC Sabathia from their rotation despite his recent struggles, general manager Brian Cashman said Tuesday.

"That's not something that we're considering at this moment," Cashman told ESPN New York. "We're going to continue to give him every opportunity to work through this for the foreseeable future."

Sabathia surrendered four earned runs over 7 1/3 innings in Monday night's loss to the Angels, dropping his record on the season to 3-8. The Yankees have now lost 10 of Sabathia's 16 starts this year, six of those defeats having come on the road.

Sabathia said he felt good after Monday's performance, however, focusing on what went well while acknowleding making mistakes.

"I just battled," Sabathia said. "I made some good pitches. I made some bad pitches. It's just part of it. But I'm battling, and I feel like I'm getting better."

Sabathia has indeed showed improvement of late, working 5+ innings and allowing no more than four earned runs in five of his last six outings. He's still not living up to his $142 million contract, but you can't deny he's keeping the Yankees in games.

And that might've been all it took to avoid a demotion to the bullpen, where New York probably doesn't need another southpaw.

"He's still competing and finding himself," Cashman said. "I think early on he had not the best of luck or run support."

While We Wait: Robinson Cano and the New York Yankees, Are Either One Happy?

Don't cry Cano, Jay-Z thought this was a great idea....

While we wait, are either Robinson Cano or the New York Yankees happy about their very public, and to some heartbreaking, split before the 2014 season? Read here while we wait for the Yankees and Angels game and click the link to give those guys a view, it’s a great article.

It has been almost two years since second baseman Robinson Cano and the New York Yankees decided to part ways and end their relationship. Cano bolted to the west coast to play with the Seattle Mariners at Safeco Field. The Yankees have had a series of second basemen since the departure of Cano.

Two years later, it’s hard to really signify who profited from the split?
Cano bolted for more money in Seattle. That evidence is staring right in the face of the Seattle Mariners, New York Yankees and the 28 other Major League teams. Cano wanted “the money”.
Cano left for Seattle because he felt he was not profiting from his services at Yankee Stadium for the Bronx Bombers.

Next to future hall of famer shortstop Derek Jeter, Robinson Cano was just as recognized in New York. His face was all over the city on television as well as street signs.
Cano really excelled in New York at Yankee Stadium. He could hit homeruns with relative ease and was a constant threat in the lineup, as well as on the field with his smooth play at second base. Cano’s ‘sweet spot’ for hitting homeruns was right field in the Bronx.

In December, 2013 Cano signed a 10 year $240 million deal with the Seattle Mariners. In comparison, the New York Yankees offered a 7 year deal for $175 million. A longer deal and more money is what Cano opted for. Over the course of the 2014 season, Cano finished with 14 homeruns and 82 RBI’s, along with a .314 batting average. No one doubts his statistics accumulated since his debut with the Yankees in 2005. Cano’s a six time All-Star, five time Silver-Slugger Award winner, two time Gold-Glove winner and a World Series Champion in 2009 with the Yankees.

His second year of the 10 year deal in Seattle is not going well. Cano has 3 homeruns, 23 RBI’s and 68 hits. Boston Red Sox second baseman Dustin Pedroia and Cano were considered two of the best second basemen in the American League just a short while ago. Now the game has evolved. There are other second basemen in the American League who have better statistics than Cano. Fellow second basemen, Houston Astros’ Jose Altuve and Cleveland Indians’ Jason Kipnis appear to be taking the league by storm. Pedroia and Cano appear to be showing signs of decline in their play.

The New York Yankees have not found their replacement for Cano. In 2014, they had an assortment of players manning the vacated position. Brian Roberts, Stephen DrewKelly JohnsonMartin Prado and Brendan Ryan were called upon to be the man playing second base role over the course of last season. The Yankees could never really get comfortable and relaxed with their future star since the loss of Cano. The honor, this season, appears to fall upon Jose Pirela and newly acquired shortstop – sometimes used at second base – Didi Gregorius.

Gregorius was acquired by the Yankees as the heir apparent replacement for their long-time captain Derek Jeter, in a three team trade with the Detroit Tigers, Arizona Diamondbacks and the Yankees. It could be argued that since the retirement of Jeter and the free agent departure of Cano, the Yankees are scrambling for both shortstop and second base. The inexperience or pressure of playing for the pinstripes is getting to the men responsible for replacing Jeter and Cano.

In 2014, the New York Yankees finished the season with a record of 84-78 and 12 games behind the Baltimore Orioles. Making the playoffs is essential each season in the Big Apple. Failure is not an option if you are wearing Yankees’ pinstripes. They barely held onto second place in the American League East as they won one single game more than the third place Toronto Blue Jays.

Year one with Cano in Mariner colors, the Seattle Mariners finished slightly better with a record of 87-75. However, they finished in third place, behind the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim and the Oakland Athletics. Bringing in Cano did not elevate the team into the playoffs. During the same off-season the Seattle Mariners and former manager Eric Wedge decided to cut ties from one another. The team went out and hired former Pittsburgh Pirates manager Lloyd McClendon.

In the 2015 season, the Yankees have won 39 of their first 72 games. The Seattle Mariners have only won 33 of their 72 games. Yes, while it is true that it is a long season and anything can happen, neither team has skyrocketed. The Yankees are 2 games behind the injury ravaged and small market Tampa Bay Rays. The Mariners are 8 ½ games behind the Houston Astros, Texas Rangers and the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim.

Just as in fractured marriages, divorces hurt! Kids can be affected and can bruise the future of a family. In this case, both Cano and the New York Yankees decided to end their time together but in year two of their separation it would clearly be apparent that neither party is happy.

Time to Call the Marlins GM Dan Jennings?

The Miami Marlins have not lived up to expectations this season despite signing Giancarlo Stanton and Christian Yelich to major extensions while signing or acquiring Dan Haren, Dee Gordon, Ichiro Suzuki, David Phelps, Martin Prado, Mat Latos and a slew of other pieces leading many to wonder if a fire sale is in order once again in Miami. On Sunday I posted an article labeled “Bring Me Martin Prado” asking the New York Yankees to re-acquire their second baseman from the second half of 2014 while taking advantage of the Marlins while they are down. Are there any other players besides Prado that may interest the Yankees if Marlins GM Dan Jennings decides to sell this July?

Before we get too ahead of ourselves let’s remember that Stanton broke the hamate bone in his hand over the weekend and may be out at least six weeks or longer which could potentially bury this team in the playoff races and National League East Division. While I don’t expect Miami to flat out start selling every piece they have they could move, as I stated on Sunday in my Prado piece, players that are set to hit free agency before the 2016 season anyway.

We went over Prado Sunday and I don’t think I need to beat that dead horse any longer, if Prado is healthy and proves he is healthy before the trade deadline he could be moved and would be a welcomed addition to the team’s struggling infield. New York needs more than infield help though and could look at some of Miami’s pitching. I am reluctant to include Haren since he is so reluctant to pitch outside of the Southern California area but he has been Miami’s best pitcher and eventually came around to pitching for the Marlins, maybe a playoff race could keep him quiet and happy for two or three more months? If not Haren would you bank on Latos and his 3.62 FIP and ignore his 5.49 ERA and -0.6 WAR in hopes of another Brandon McCarthy resurgence?

It’s hard to bank on Miami really trading many, if any, of their players at this year’s trading deadline. The team has already expressed an interest in re-signing Ichiro to a deal for 2016 as he continues his march towards 3,000 hits making a deal for him unlikely while the team obviously does not want to trade away a player to make Stanton or Yelich disgruntled players. Jennings and owner Jeffrey Loria’s hands seem tied at this point so it seems like Haren, Prado, Latos or bust in a deal involving Miami and New York this July.

This May Be the Year We See Brandon Phillips in Pinstripes

Ever since Robinson Cano left the New York Yankees for greener pastures, and uniforms, the New York Yankees have had a revolving door and gaping hole at the second base position. Many names have been mentioned as potential replacements for Cano including the Cincinnati Reds second baseman Brandon Phillips. Despite his declining defense and troubling offensive stats the Reds tried to pry Brett Gardner from New York in a trade in December of 2013 and that sort of trade may be proposed again except this time the Yankees may accept.

I am of the same mindset of Robert Refsnyder is lately, he’s not getting called up so why even give a crap. New York has proven this time and time again with the signing of Stephen Drew and the unwillingness to even give Refsnyder a shot. So if the team won’t call up Refsnyder and won’t give Jose Pirela a legitimate shot to work out the kinks then will that push the Yankees into the trade market?

Phillips looks a bit more attractive now than he did back in the winter of 2013 mainly because years and salary have come off his contract. New York was wise to keep Gardner then and would immediately hang up on the rebuilding Reds GM now if Gardner’s name were muttered. This time around Phillips would be more of a salary dump, Phillips is owed $34 million until 2017, and would cost the Yankees less in the terms of prospects and players. Honestly it may cost the Yankees Refsnyder, and I would seriously consider my place as a fan of this team if that were to happen, but that’s the way the cookie crumbles. I would rather see Refsnyder get a shot with Cincinnati’s big league club then to see him rot in Triple-A here only to be seen on our weekly prospects check ins. So is the curse of being a New York Yankees prospect I guess.

Phillips just turned 34 years old on Sunday and is currently slashing .290/.324/.371 with four home runs, 28 RBI and 11 steals in a hitting friendly ballpark in Cincinnati. Phillips is sporting a .316 BABIP, which is far above his career .293 BABIP, so a regression seems imminent for Phillips but I don’t think he’ll fall so far that we jokingly make comments about moving and renaming the Mendoza Line after him. Even if he does regress he can be better than Drew and force Drew to where he belongs, the bench, while still handing the club above-average defense, speed and stolen bases. Phillips may not lead the team to October baseball and the World Series alone but he would make many fans, including myself, worry far less about the future of the second base position. 

The Unpopular Bullpen/Rotation Decision

"Is there anybody up there in the stands that can make this decision for me?"

Last night the Yankees announced that Nathan Eovaldi will start on Wednesday, which pretty much means Adam Warren is going to the bullpen. That news also means that CC Sabathia will remain in the starting rotation.

And while that's not a surprise since 1. Sabathia is the highest paid player (not just pitcher) on the team and 2. Warren was quite successful coming as a reliever last season, it's still disappointing.

Even if he were to remain in the rotation Adam Warren is not going to get any Cy Young Award votes at the end of the season. However, his ERA of 3.59 is a heck of a lot better than Sabathia's 5.59. For those of you that are correctly pointing out that ERA is not the best stat for comparing pitchers, I'll also show you that opposing hitters are batting .238 against Warren and .294 against Sabathia.

However, it's clear to anybody that's been watching the Yankees this season that Adam Warren gives the team a better chance to win. And with the AL East turning into a four-team race, every win and loss is important.

"Yeah, those stats aren't pretty."

But before going off in the comments, keep a few things in mind...

1. You can't put all the blame on Joe Girardi here. Joe is not the one that signed Sabathia to that extension (side note... if CC hadn't opted out this would be the final year of his initial 7 year deal). Brian Cashman and Co. put this team together, and Girardi has to manage it. And managing a team, especially the New York Yankees, is more than making lineups and pitching changes. CC Sabathia is a leader in the locker room, and not long ago was the ace of the rotation. The Yankees, and their fans, are big on history.

2. I talked about this before, but it's as true now as then. Between 2013 and 2014 Warren threw 155.2 innings. So far this season he's at 82.2 innings, and at that pace would eclipse 175 this year. No way would that happen. Workload concern has become an issue, as well it should.

3. The Yankees have wanted a right-handed reliever to add to their plethora of lefties, and they have it in Warren. Perhaps that 3.59 ERA isn't as valuable in the bullpen, but having somebody else in the bullpen you can rely on is definitely a good thing.

4. Since debuting in 2001, Sabathia has never made an appearance out of the bullpen. So there's no reason to believe he would be effective in that role now. In fact, I'd go as far as to say he would be a waste of a bullpen spot. Getting ready out of the 'pen is vastly different than getting ready to start a game. Relievers will get up and throw a dozen or so pitches in the 'pen, come out and throw a few more warm-up pitches on the mound, and then go at it. And sometimes they'll do so with men already on base. The mentality of a reliever is so different that I don't think CC could do it. Especially considering he has zero experience with it.

Like the Giants did with Tim Lincecum, there may very well come a time when Sabathia relieves games more than starts them. Unfortunately that time is not now.

I can't tell if he's thinking about pitching or eating my soul.

Game Preview: New York Yankees @ Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim 6/30

The New York Yankees and the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim will face off in their second game of their three game series to start the week in Angels Stadium. The Yankees will get their second look at the recently activated Ivan Nova tonight as he makes his second start since Tommy John surgery against Andrew Heaney for the Angels. The game will be played at 10:05 pm ET and can be seen on the YES Network and MLB TV.

  • Nova made his first start since undergoing ulnar collateral ligament replacement surgery, commonly known as Tommy John surgery, five days ago and he returned to the Bronx in style. Nova threw 6.2 scoreless innings of three-hit ball against Cole Hamels and the Philadelphia Phillies leading the Yankees to a victory. Nova walked two batters and had one strikeout in his 92 pitch afternoon that resulted in his first victory of the 2015 season.

  • Heaney will also be making just his second start of the 2015 season tonight in Anaheim after holding the Houston Astros to just one run on four hits in six innings of work in his first start. The Astros have a tough offense that gave the Yankees pitchers fits for four games so this may be another tough head-to-head matchup for Nova and the Yankees tonight.

The Yankees play an afternoon game of sort’s tomorrow afternoon in Anaheim as they have a 4:05 pm local start and your normal run of the mill 7:05 pm ET start over here on the East Coast, boy I can’t wait for that. First things first though the team needs to win today before they start thinking about tomorrow. No worries though I believe Mr. Nova is up to the task. Go Yankees!

USA Today’s Weekly MLB Power Rankings

Another week and another set of Major League Baseball power rankings from the USA Today. Last week the Yankees came in as the 7th best team in baseball and did not do much to improve on that this week. The team split four games with the Houston Astros and dropped two games to the worst team in baseball, the Philadelphia Phillies, which will likely drop their rankings a bit. How far will the Yankees fall? Will the Cardinals keep their strangle hold on the list? Will the Phillies climb out of the cellar with two victories over the Yankees? You’ll just have to keep reading to find out.

Like we always do we will begin the week with some positivity by showcasing the biggest rise of the week, the Baltimore Orioles. The Orioles rose six spots to climb all the way to the #8 position. The Baseball God’s giveth and the Baseball God’s taketh away and they took away three positions from the Tampa Bay Rays making them the biggest fall of the week. As far as the New York Yankees go the team came in ranked 10 which is a three spot fall from last week’s position.

To round out the American League East you have the Tampa Bay Rays at the 9th position while the Toronto Blue Jays came in at the 12th position. The Baltimore Orioles are climbing in the American League East and they are climbing in the rankings at the 8th while the Boston Red Sox are bringing up the rear in the 25th position.

The Top Five teams in the rankings are the St. Louis Cardinals, the Kansas City Royals, the Houston Astros, the Washington Nationals and the Los Angeles Dodgers. The five worst teams in the rankings in descending order are the 26th ranked Colorado Rockies, the 27th ranked Miami Marlins, the 28th ranked Chicago White Sox, the 29th ranked Philadelphia Phillies and the 30th ranked Milwaukee Brewers.

The rankings are what they are at this point in the season. Teams will have their highs and their lows but you are no longer seeing the 10 or so spot rises and falls anymore as the sample size of the MLB season has taken over. Teams will go hot and teams will go cold but these are your best teams and your worst teams as it stands right now. The July 31st trading deadline is looming though and will throw this whole scenario out of whack, so stay tuned. 

TGP Daily Poll: First Place Yankees

With the team’s loss to the Houston Astros on Sunday the team fell to third place, an unfamiliar feeling for this team, behind the Tampa Bay Rays and the Toronto Blue Jays. By next Monday, 7/6, the Yankees will be back in first place.

Vote in our prediction poll on Knoda.com

Weekly Check In: Aaron Judge

Aaron Judge has been in Triple-A for only a couple of weeks now but has already acclimated to his new surroundings, his new teammates and new opposing pitchers. Judge is already hitting bombs down in Scranton with the RailRiders and was rewarded late last week with an invitation to the All-Star Game Futures Game to be played in Cincinnati next month along with former Double-A Trenton teammate Gary Sanchez.

Could Judge be a legitimate September call up, or earlier, prospect and could he be the Yankees full time right fielder as soon as 2016? It’s hard to say but the Yankees are being awfully aggressive with their college drafted outfielder and all signs seems at least be pointing that way. Before you get too excited though remember Robert Refsnyder’s rise through the system after being drafted out of the University of Arizona and see how long he sits in Triple-A despite an obvious and glaring need in the Bronx. It is all about tempering expectations with this team and their prospects.


This Day in New York Yankees History 6/30: Yankees Pull a Kansas City in All-Star Game

Finally, on this day in 2002 the Yankees became the first team in the American League since the 1956 Chicago White Sox to have four infielders and a catcher on the All Star roster. Jason Giambi, Alfonso Soriano, and Jorge Posada were voted in by the fans and Derek Jeter and Robin Ventura were chosen by the AL manager Joe Torre.

Also on this day in 1961 Whitey Ford became the first American League pitcher to win eight games in one month. Ford would throw a complete game win over the Washington Senators as the Yankees would win 5-1. This would be the Yankees 22nd team victory in June, a great month.

Cy Young showed why Major League Baseball would soon name their prestigious pitchers award after him, well that and leading the majors in wins and losses in his career, on this day in 1908 as Young no-hit the Highlanders 8-0. The 41 year old Red Sox pitcher would pitch his third no hitter of his career against the team that would soon be the New York Yankees.