Saturday, July 18, 2015

Saturday Night Open Thread

Boy, put a fork in me because I am officially done for the day. Late to bed on Friday night, early to rise on Saturday morning. Yard work, a co-workers grandson’s birthday party, the Yankees game and general husband, fatherly and blogger duties and it’s 8:00 pm on a Saturday and I’m ready to turn in. I can’t quite turn in yet, not at least until I leave you guys with an open thread for the night. Talk about whatever you like here, the shootings in Chattanooga( which is really close to home to me and even closer to probably my best friend, his girlfriend and his daughter), the Yankees chances in the second half, the July 31st trading deadline, whatever. Have a ball, we’re all about having fun here and less about the moderation if you haven’t been able to tell.

So I leave you with this, a song out of my own personal musical collection. The name of the song is “Finding Myself“ and the artist is Smile Empty Soul. Have a good evening Yankees family and we’ll be back at full strength tomorrow!

Girardi Implies Rob Refsnyder Is The Regular Second Baseman

In his pregame press conference, Joe Girardi shed some light on the second base situation.

"We have to do something here."

After 81 games with AAA Scranton/Wilkes-Barre, in which he put up a batting line of .290/.387/.413 with 7 home runs and 10 stolen bases, the Yankees called up second baseman Rob Refsnyder. Many Yankees fans have been begging to see Rob called up for some time, especially after Stephen Drew hit .182/.257/.372 in the first half of the season.

Since then people have been trying to figure out what the Yankees were going to do once Brendan Ryan and Carlos Beltran came back from the disabled list. The biggest fear has been that Ref would be sent back down, and we'd have to deal with the all-glove/no-bat Drew for the remainder of the season.

But earlier today Girardi said this...
We want [Drew] to be able to play all three positions, second, short and third. We’ve asked our middle infielders to be able to do that if you want to give Headley a day off, if you want to give Didi a day off, obviously he’s going to play some second as well. Those sort of things. He’s prepared to go in anywhere.
That doesn't sound to me like Drew is going to be the everyday second baseman anymore. And something tells me Brendan Ryan is not that guy either. So it looks like Rob Refsnyder will get regular playing time at second base, while Stephen Drew will be the team's utility infielder.

Personally I love this news. Drew has value as a late-inning defensive replacement, has some pop in his bat, and can defend well at second, shortstop, and third base.

So does that mean Brendan Ryan's time in pinstripes is up when Beltran returns? What about the rarely seen Garrett Jones? A reliever? I don't know... stay tuned.

Transcript From My Appearance On The Yanks Go Yard Radio Show

Last Sunday I joined the Yanks Go Yard Radio Show to discuss the 1st half the the season for the Yankees. If you haven't gotten a chance to listen yet then you can click here and check it out.

If you're like me and would rather read an article than sit through a radio show, then I'm going to go over the ten questions that were sent to me, along with my answers. However, I'm not going to include what the show's host, Ricky, had to add. Nor will I give the thoughts given by the show's other guest Chris Carelli, of SNY Yanks and Yankees Unscripted.

A couple things before I let you read on (as if you can't skip this part anyway)...

1. I have to apologize for all my coughing. I didn't realize how bad it was until my girlfriend, who was listening to it live, told me about it later. I don't know what's going on, but I think I have enlarged tonsils and need to get them removed. That, or it's just a nervous tic or something. 

2. A couple hours before joining the show I got back from a bachelor party. My girlfriend's brother is getting married (congrats Mike and Jenny!), and I was invited to join a handful of guys at Cedar Point... an amusement park on Lake Erie. It wasn't your stereotypical bachelor party, where we hit strip clubs and drink a lot, but I can assure you we had a great time. I didn't get on a few of their roller coasters that I wanted to (Cedar Point is the Roller Coaster Capital of the World), but it was fun. I'm telling you all of this because I wasn't able to prepare as well as I wanted to, but I think I held my own. Click the link and hear for yourself.

So, for those that can't listen or don't want to, here is the gist of what was covered...

Did the Yankees exceed your expectations for the first half of the season?


The team's pitching, overall, is about what I expected. While Michael Pineda and Adam Warren exceed those expectations, CC Sabathia and Masahiro Tanaka weren't quite as good as I'd imagined. I expected Dellin Betances to get a little worse, I mean... he did have a monster season in 2014, but he's been just as good. In fact, his the only thing that's gotten worse for him is his walk rate, as his strikeout rate has actually increased from last season. 

What I didn't expect was the run production. The Yankees are scoring so much more than I thought they would. I figured the team would live or die by their pitching, but the bats have really come through. While Jacoby Ellsbury and Brett Gardner are a great 1-2 punch at the top of the order, guys like Alex Rodriguez, Mark Teixeira (who had as many home runs at the All Star break this season as he did in all of 2014), and Brian McCann have really stepped up. Not to mention all the kids that have gotten a shot.

Was Alex Rodriguez the most valuable player on the Yankees up to the ASB?


Like I said in my first answer, he's doing way more than was expected of him. Heck, many people (myself included) thought the Yankees might possibly be better off paying ARod to sit at home. We were way wrong on that. However, you have to take defense into account when talking about the team's MVP, therefore ARod is disqualified.

As for the player I'd pick as the first half MVP, that would be Brett Gardner. Not only is Brett a vacuum in the outfield, but the guy is really getting it done at the plate. His triple-slash in the first half was .300/.377/.486, to go along with 10 homers and 15 stolen bases.

Do the Yankees have the best bullpen in the American League now that Andrew Miller is healthy?

I had to say "yes" to this one. Looking at fWAR the Yankees are tied with the Dodgers in the entire Major Leagues, and a few ticks better than the Royals in the AL. And they did that without having Miller around for a while. 

With Andrew aboard you have two sub-2.00 ERAs in the bullpen (Miller and Betances), another just over 2.00 (Shreve), and one more below 3.00 (Wilson). 

Oh, and you can't ignore the fact that the Yankees bullpen had Esmil Rogers and his 6.27 ERA in 33 innings in there.


Was the 1-2 combon of Ellsbury and Gardner at the top of the lineup the missing ingredient last year?

While having those two at the top of the order is great, you can't ignore what the heart of the order has done. 

As bad as it was having Derek Jeter batting 2nd day in and day out was, the fact of the matter is that the team got little to nothing out of their 3-4-5 hitters. So no matter how many times Gardner and Ellsbury could have set the table last year, nobody was hitting them in.

That's not the case this year. I pointed out earlier that Mark Teixiera had as many homers in the first half of 2015 as he did in all of 2014. McCann has gone from a little below replacement level to being in the All Star discussion. And saying ARod is doing better than Beltran did last season is a laughable understatement.

Is the starting rotation in need of a major upgrade?

Not at all. While somebody like Cole Hamels or Johnny Cueto would be a welcome addition, at least in a vacuum, they are hardly necessary for the Yankees to be a real contender. I would like to see a good to great #2 or #3 starter to put with Pineda and Tanaka, especially for the postseason, though. 

While I have high hopes for Nathan Eovaldi (the guy is only 25 years old!), he's just not trustworthy in anything close to a must-win game. After a nice debut after recovering from Tommy John surgery, followed up by a good outing, Ivan Nova was hit around a bit in his next two starts. So I don't trust him, either. CC Sabathia? LOL... NEXT!

What is your biggest surprise and disappointment of the first half?

My biggest disappointment has been CC Sabathia. While I didn't expect we'd ever get back the ace we saw in 2009, I clung onto the idea that he would still know how to pitch. That hasn't been the case. I though he could be a good #3 or #4 starter, but at this point part of me wouldn't mind seeing him released. Heck, you can't even put him in the bullpen for more than mop-up duty, as the 'pen is pretty darn good right now, and he'd probably mess that up.

My biggest surprise was easy... Alex Rodriguez. Just go back to what I said earlier about me thinking the team would be better off releasing him prior to the season.

Will the Yankees make a big trade at the deadline? 

Nope. Every year Yankees fans hold out hope for a blockbuster deal, and it never happens. Brian Cashman has made some nice trades, but nothing worthy of being called a "big splash". 

The one problem is that such a deal would need to involve either big prospects, good/young players already in MLB, or both. There's no way the team is going to part with the only MLBer that would fit here (Gardner), and I don't think the team will deal away somebody like Aaron Judge, Luis Severino, or Greg Bird. 

The other problem, if you want to call it that, is that the Yankees don't need to make a major upgrade. I mentioned that #2 or #3 starter, already. Perhaps a better second baseman or shortstop would be nice. However, I really like Didi Gregorius, and I want to see what Rob Refsnyder can do.

Do you expect the farm system to make a major contribution down the stretch?

I can't see anything "major" happening from a minor league call-up. Maybe Aaron Judge, but I have a feeling we won't see him in MLB until next season. Every other "big" hitting prospect is either too young or currently blocked, and for good reason right now (my first thought here was Greg Bird at first base). 

I suppose Rob Refsnyder could be somewhat "major", but I don't see him hitting above 6th in the order this season, and it's hard for a guy batting that low to be a big contributor. Then again, he's replacing Stephen Drew, so the bar is already set very low, and Rob could blow away Drew's numbers at the plate.

"You call that a challenge?"

Fill in the blank: After Game 162, the New York Yankees will be...

American League East Champions.

It's a combination of the Yankees being able to score runs and prevent them, along with the fact that their division is not exactly the powerhouse it used to be.

There you go. While I think my thoughts are the best and most important (LOL), we did talk a little more about the first half of the season, and you should check out the show for Ricky and Chris' thoughts too. If you don't want to scroll up (you lazy SOB), then click here.

I hope to get your thoughts in the comments below.

Parity Shows in Major League Baseball in 2015

When Major League Baseball began its mission to grow the brand and try, for lack of a better term, emulate the National Football League a word that we the fans heard a lot of was parity. During the 90’s and the early 2000’s you generally had the same teams winning the division every year, the New York Yankees, the Boston Red Sox, the San Francisco Giants, the Atlanta Braves, the St. Louis Cardinals, the Texas Rangers, etc. MLB can be proud in 2015 though because with the additions of a second wild card playoff spot, luxury taxes, profit sharing and the growing baseball television network market parity may have finally arrived and may be here to stay for the foreseeable future.

In the American League every single team had at least a .450 winning percentage at this year’ All-Star break which is the first time an entire league has done that in the majors since 1944. You have to keep in mind that the league was very thin in 1944 due to World War II while the game in this day and time is star rich with at least one or two on every single team. Even in the American League East Division parity, or mediocrity depending on how you look at it, is evident with the last place Boston Red Sox trailing the first place New York Yankees by just 6.5 games entering the All-Star break this season.

The Oakland Athletics have the worst record in the American League at 41-50 entering the All-Star break and are a good month away from eliminating just an 8.5 game deficit to the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim. The same can be said for the last place Chicago White Sox who went into the break sporting a 41-45 record and a 5.5 game deficit in the American League’s second wild card chase. Parity means interesting and this major league season is shaping up to be very interesting, especially with the scheduling change that has every single game starting at the same time on the final day of the regular season. With seemingly every race heading down to the wire Major League Baseball made a heck of a risky move and it looks like it is going to pay off immensely.

The same could be said for the National League if it were not for the Philadelphia Phillies, the Miami Marlins and the Milwaukee Brewers both other than those three teams and maybe the Colorado Rockies the parity can be seen there as well. Almost every team is within single-digits of a playoff berth which makes for some exciting baseball in the second half. Parity is here in MLB for better or worse, it is time we start getting to love it. 

Game Thread: New York Yankees vs. Seattle Mariners 7/18

If it feels like just a few short hours ago we were wrapping up the last game between the New York Yankees and the Seattle Mariners there is probably a good reason for that, it’s because we did. It is the dreaded day game after a night game that Joe Girardi loves to sit his regulars in and the type of scenarios that Joe Girardi loves to use Stephen Drew in as much as he can. Anyway, the Yankees will send Michael Pineda to the mound looking to harness some of his “Big Mike” powers and less of his “Magic Mike” powers while Hisashi Iwakuma opposes him for Seattle. The game will be played at 1:05 pm ET and can be seen on the YES Network and MLB TV.

This week I bought tickets for my son to see the New York Yankees for the first time live and I’m super excited about it. I clicked the Yankees Tickets link at the top of the blog and now on August 29th I’ll be in Atlanta watching the Yankees and the Braves face off with my son and I’ll have money in my pocket left over from not having to pay those annoying fees or bulky shipping costs to show my son a good time. You can do the same, just click the link at the top of the blog. Be sure to also give us a follow on Twitter, @GreedyStripes, to interact with us during each and every Yankees game.

Pineda is ready to show us that Big Mike trumps Magic Mike, even if it’s XXL, any day. Go Yankees!

Brander Pinder Up, Bryan Mitchell Down

Branden Pinder has been called up to the major league bullpen while Bryan Mitchell was sent back to Scranton with the RailRiders. Presumably this allows Mitchell to get some work in as a starter in the minor leagues while Pinder fills the need for a right handed pitcher in the Bronx.

By the way, as we failed to post this yesterday, Brendan Ryan was activated before last night's game while Gregorio Petit was sent down to Triple-A Scranton.

Would Selling the Farm be the Worst Thing to Happen?

If it was not for my age at the time of the release of the movie I think I would have been a prime candidate to star in the movie “The Devil’s Advocate.” To be honest I’ve never seen the movie but I know the general gist of the plot and what it means to play the Devils’ advocate. It basically means to go against the grain and pose the questions that oppose the general consensus, there’s more to it but if you need to know it all you can simply watch the movie. For the purpose of this post the Devil’s Advocate is me, the biggest prospect humper in the history of prospect humping, asking the question whether it would be the worst thing in the world if the Yankees sold the farm at this year’s trading deadline.

The Yankees had a very successful draft in which they signed 36 of their 41 draft picks including every pick taken in the first ten rounds. The team got a fast moving starting pitcher in James Kaprielian and an elite college shortstop in Kyle Holder in the first round and made many notable signings including LHP Josh Rogers to join an ever growing farm system that is no longer bottom feeding or top heavy. The team finally has some noticeable depth in the upper levels of the system and is having trouble finding enough at bats or innings to give to this group of talented individuals. The Yankees GM Brian Cashman has been reluctant to trade away in prospects in recent years and has been building for a year like the 2015 season in shaping up to be.

The Yankees window, I know I’ve said this before but I will say it again and again until it sinks in, is the 2015 season. Without any big money contracts coming off the books and without any key areas in which the team can upgrade without eating substantial amounts of salary in trades, DFA’s or releases the team will look like a mirror this team in 2016. The problem with that is the Yankees veterans will be one year older, the pitching will have that many more miles on their arms and anything but a decrease in stats overall from 2015 should not be expected. Every team has a window and this team’s window is now so why not trade away a few pieces of the farm to ensure a deep October playoff run?

If the Yankees traded away Luis Severino in 2015 you would have to think by the time the team is relevant again, 2017 or 2018 I would think, another big arm would be ready to come out of the farm system. If New York sent Aaron Judge packing for a pitcher you would have to think another “can’t miss” prospect would present himself for us all to drool over in two or three seasons. There will be more Greg Bird’s, Jorge Mateo’s and Gary Sanchez’s, winning seasons and World Series trips are never guaranteed. So I’m not saying I necessarily want the team to start selling off prospects for veterans again, especially rentals, like Johnny Cueto, if the right deal comes along I’m not saying I would be necessarily upset about it either. 

Game Preview: New York Yankees vs. Seattle Mariners 7/18

The New York Yankees and the Seattle Mariners are back at it again this afternoon inside Yankee Stadium as the two face off head-to-head in a day game after a night game. These are the types of scenarios that MLB Players Association head Tony Clark hopes to avoid by shortening the schedule to 154 games but when you’re paying a guy $15- $30 million a season guaranteed whether they play or not I find it hard to feel sorry for them but anyway, I digress. The Yankees will send Michael Pineda to the mound this afternoon in the Bronx to face off with Hisashi Iwakuma for the Seattle Mariners. The game will be played at 1:05 pm ET and can be seen on the YES Network and MLB TV.

  • Pineda has looked decent in his last three starts allowing just four runs, three of them earned, while punching out 24 batters in 21.2 innings pitched. If the Yankees are going to go anywhere this season it is going to be on the right arm of yesterday’s starter, Masahiro Tanaka, and today’s starter, Michael Pineda.

  • Iwakuma is fresh off a start against the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim where he threw eight shutout innings in a victory for Seattle. This was just Iwakuma’s second start since coming off the disabled list and it improved his overall record to 1-1 and his ERA to 5.22 this season. Iwakuma owns a 1-2 record with a 3.33 ERA career against New York in four starts.

The New York Yankees have one more game tomorrow in the Bronx before another off day so I expect all hands to be on deck in the bullpen not only for this contest but for tomorrow’s as well. The Yankees bullpen is definitely the strength of this team and the more that Joe Girardi can use the pen, without overusing them of course, the better off the team will be. I want to win and this team will live and die off the offense and the bullpen, let’s hope both are up to the task this afternoon in the Bronx. Go Yankees!

ICYMI: Derek Jeter

Derek Jeter wins ICON Award at ESPY's

And also won a Kid's Choice Legend Award from Nickelodeon

Weekly Check In: Jorge Mateo

The minor league All-Star Games are over, the All-Star break is over and it is back to work as usual for everyone in Major League Baseball and the lower affiliates in the farm system. This includes the Yankees top shortstop prospect Jorge Mateo as he continues his chase at 100 stolen bases in a single season. Mateo’s pace his lowered in recent weeks, well after crossing the 50 stolen base plateau, but the batting average is on a steady rise and so are many of his offensive numbers.

The defense has never really been an issue as Mateo leads an impressive group of Yankees shortstop prospects in the lower levels including Tyler Wade, Abi Avelino and others. Mateo may not steal 100 bases but it is looking more and more likely that the 20 year old won’t be spending much more time in Charleston either. Mateo seems primed, and more importantly ready, for a promotion to Tampa.


This Day in New York Yankees History 7/18: CC is Done for the Year

On this day in 2014 the New York Yankees learned that their ace starting pitcher CC Sabathia’s season would be over after undergoing knee surgery. CC had attempted previously to rest and rehab the knee but the degenerative knee condition was too far gone to be fixed without going under the knife.

The New York Yankees, without looking, have probably had the most players play for them than any other team in major league baseball. Not only has the team been around forever they also have never shied away from acquiring new players, even rentals, for a postseason run. The Yankees did just this on this day in 2008 when the recently released Richie Sexson signed with the Yankees. Sexson was the perfect platoon partner for Jason Giambi.

Also on this day in 1999 the Yankees showed once again that they could put on a show with Yogi Berra Day at Yankee Stadium. When the Yankees put on a show they put one on right as David Cone became the 16th pitcher in major league history to throw a perfect game beating the Montreal Expos 6-0. Before the game Don Larsen, the only player to throw a perfect game in the World Series, threw out the ceremonial first pitch.

Finally on this day in 1921 Babe Ruth became the all-time home run leader when he connected for his 139th home run in Detroit. Ruth's 36th home run of the season went over 500 feet and put him ahead of Roger Connor's previous mark. It took Connor 18 seasons in the National League to reach the plateau.