Tuesday, August 11, 2015

Should The Yankees Go After James Shields?

While it's true that the Yankees don't have the best starting rotation in baseball, it's also true that they don't have the worst. 

Everybody cheer for us not being the worst!

In fact, in terms of fWAR, the Yankees' starters are 6th in the American League. While being 6th in the league isn't great, allow me to point out that four of the teams in front of them are not going to the postseason. The Chicago White Sox starters have the highest fWAR, but their team is currently 4th in the AL Central. The Oakland Athletics are 2nd, but are currently in last place in the AL West. The Cleveland Indians are next, but are cellar-dwellers in the AL Central. And finally there are the Tampa Bay Rays with the 5th best fWAR in the AL, who are currently in 4th place in the AL East.

The only team whose starters have a higher fWAR, and who are likely headed to the postseason, are the Houston Astros. Fortunately, the Yankees have a better bullpen and a better offense, so Houston does not frighten me.

Speaking of bullpens, the Yankees have the best bullpen in baseball. A bullpen that includes two pitchers with a sub-2.00 ERA (Dellin Betances and Andrew Miller), another guy with an ERA barely over 2.00 (Chasen Shreve - 2.06), and a fourth pitcher whose ERA is a very respectable 2.43 (Justin Wilson). That means that as long as the Yankee starters give the team a good five innings, the game is definitely winnable. 

Heck, I didn't even mention that Adam Warren and Bryan Mitchell are also currently in the bullpen, where they can give the Yankees three or more strong innings of work. 

Basically, another starter is not necessary.

Which brings me to James Shields.

"What's UUUUUUP!?"

The Yankees do not need James Shields. That's all that has to be said about it, but I'm sure you won't be surprised to find out that I'm not leaving it at that.

First of all, there's the fact that Shields is walking more batters this year than he ever has. His career walk percentage is 5.9%, but this season that number is 8.1%. 

Secondly, James is giving up a lot of home runs. His home run percentage of 3.9% is higher than it's ever been in his career. And if you think the majority of the homers against him have happened away from spacious Petco Park, you'd be wrong. He's given up 13 home runs in just 11 starts at Petco, while giving up 11 home runs in 13 starts on the road. Oh, and more home runs are hit at Yankee Stadium. Not a good omen.

My biggest issue is his contract, which runs through 2018 for another $63 million (not including the $2 million buyout of his team option 2019 season). If the Yankees have to pay a third starter over $20 million, then chances are they wouldn't be willing to go after somebody like David Price in free agency, as he would make it four starters earning $20+ million next season.

Now, I'm not going to ignore the opt-out clause in Shields' contract, which he can trigger after next season. While he's already 33, I don't think it would be hard for a guy with his consistency (he's made at least 33 starts in each of the past seven seasons, and has 24 already this season) to get a contract of at least four years and $16 million per. That means he would be guaranteed a million more dollars than he's already getting paid, plus another year. And that's a modest estimate.

So while it's exciting to think about the Yankees adding another solid piece to the rotation, when you actually sit back and think about acquiring James Shields you'll realize that it's not worth it.

Game Thread: New York Yankees @ Cleveland Indians 8/11

The New York Yankees and the Cleveland Indians begin a three game set tonight inside Progressive Field with each team heading in the opposite directions. The Indians are rebuilding towards the 2016 season while the New York Yankees are hoping to reach the playoffs for the first time since 2012. The Yankees lead is dwindling in the American League East and the team will have to start gaining back some of their cushion they had tonight in Cleveland. The Yankees will send Luis Severino to the mound tonight to face off with the Indians starter Carlos Carrasco. The game will be played at 7:10 pm ET and can be seen on the YES Network and MLB TV.

New York has to win this series, even sweep this series if possible, before heading to Toronto for the weekend. No if’s, ands or but’s about it. It’s hard to say all the pressure is on New York in a series that starts on August 11th but when a team slides into a valley they need to get out of it quickly before it becomes mental. Bomb these Indians and send a message to the rest of the league, do it now. Head over to Twitter and follow @GreedyStripes to root for the Yankees during this massacre with us.

Jacoby Ellsbury is ready to step into the box and end the Yankees scoreless streak and I’m ready to tell half of our Twitter followers that I told you so. Go Yankees!

Chase Utley Clears Waivers

I was on the Vinny Brown Radio Show earlier today, and part of our discussion revolved around Chase Utley. The question posed was "should the Yankees deal for Utley?"

I said they shouldn't, because while the duo of Stephen Drew and Brendan Ryan are far from "good", Chase Utley is having a horrible season (.190/.262/.294) and wouldn't help. The fact is that Drew and Ryan are there for their defense, and that is going just fine. As much as we'd like to see a better hitter at second base, there's a chance that Utley could be worse.

However, Vinny made a good point about how different environments can change a player for the better. At one time Chase was one of, if not the best second baseman in the league. The guy knows how to play at an elite level. Will his body allow him to do that, or somewhat close to it, today? I doubt it, but I also think he can play better than he has.

Face it, playing for a contender in New York can certainly get the juices flowing. We've seen it before, like with Alfonso Soriano in 2013 or Ichiro Suzuki in 2012.

So if the Yankees can acquire Utley for little to nothing, then I say "go for it". Especially if they avoid those vesting options for 2016 through 2018.

Yankees Leaders Through 110 Games


Games Played:

Chase Headley - 105

At Bats:

Chase Headley - 401

Runs Scored:

Brett Gardner - 73


Brett Gardner - 110


Brett Gardner and Carlos Beltran - 23 each

Home Runs:

Mark Teixeira - 30


Mark Teixeira - 77


Brett Gardner - .285



Nathan Eovaldi - 22


Dellin Betances and Justin Wilson - 51 each


Nathan Eovaldi - 11


CC Sabathia - 8


Bullpen: Dellin Betances 1.26

Rotation: Ivan Nova 3.52


Rotation: Michael Pineda 117

Bullpen: Dellin Betances 91

USA Today's Weekly MLB Power Rankings

There is no other way to slice it, the New York Yankees had a tough week last week. The team started out the week strong with another series victory over the Boston Red Sox before the Toronto Blue Jays came to town and left with a smile on their face. New York was shutout in consecutive games for the first time in what feels like my lifetime and was swept away in the three-game series. How would this propel the Blue Jays in the rankings and what would it do the Yankees? Keep reading.

First and foremost the biggest rise of the week went to the Chicago Cubs who climbed an amazing five slots all the way to the #6 position that the Yankees held in last week’s rankings. The biggest fall went to the Houston Astros who only fell by three slots but currently sit in the 8th position, one position behind the New York Yankees. The Yankees came in 7th in this week’s rankings and will look to rebound this week with a big set of road series against the Cleveland Indians and those same Toronto Blue Jays inside the Rogers Centre.

The Top Five teams according to the rankings are the St. Louis Cardinals, the Kansas City Royals, the Pittsburgh Pirates, the Toronto Blue Jays and the Los Angeles Dodgers. The five worst teams according to the rankings are the #26 Boston Red Sox, the Colorado Rockies, the Milwaukee Brewers, the Philadelphia Phillies and the Miami Marlins.

To catch up with the rest of the American League East we have the Toronto Blue Jays in the #4 position, the New York Yankees at the #7 position, the Baltimore Orioles finished the week at #13, the Tampa Bay Rays weren’t that far behind finishing #15 and the Boston Red Sox are bringing up the rear at the #25 position.

The trade deadline has severely shaped these rankings, hasn’t it? The Yankees stood pat and they are falling and the Toronto Blue Jays are climbing after selling the farm and acquiring big named and players. The Astros made moves and are still the biggest fallers of the week so no list or situation is perfect but for the most part the teams that made moves needed to and are benefiting from it while the teams that sold or stood pat are suffering. One of those teams, unfortunately, is the New York Yankees. 

Game Preview: New York Yankees @ Cleveland Indians 8/11

The New York Yankees head into this three-game series with the Cleveland Indians coming off the worst possible scenario that could have happened for the team, a three-game sweep at the hands of the Toronto Blue Jays. The Jays are chasing the Yankees in the American League East Division race and are now within 1.5 games of New York leaving the Bronx Bombers with some work to do. That work begins tonight when the team sends Luis Severino to the mound for his second career start to face off against Carlos Carrasco for the Indians. The game will be played at 7:10 pm ET and can be seen on the YES Network and MLB TV.

  • Severino is fresh off his Major League debut against the Boston Red Sox where he showed the rest of the league why he was the Yankees #1 prospect. Severino lived up to the hype throwing five innings against Boston giving up just one earned run on two hits, one of them a David Ortiz home run. Severino can’t possibly be better tonight, can he?

  • Carrasco is coming into this start fresh off two straight strong starts for the Cleveland Indians. Carrasco made a mechanical adjustment before the July 31st trading deadline and it has resulted in two consecutive nine-inning starts where he allowed just one earned run combined. A tough matchup tonight for an already slumping Yankees offense.

New York needs a sweep here, no other way around it. Toronto just isn’t losing games right now and the lead in the division is as small as it has been in a long time. The room for error is gone and the room for the offense to go scoreless in almost three straight games is over, time to put in work. Go Yankees!

The Cry For Homegrown Talent May Be Ill Advised: 1996

I am probably one of the worst for this but the thought of having a mostly homegrown team may not be the best thing for the Yankees. I got to thinking about how much homegrown talent the Yankees actually had when they won the World Series in 1996 and the results were shocking. The Yankees had a total of six regulars on that team that came from the farm system, six. Let's take a closer look at that 1996 Yankees roster.

The Yankees infield wasn't exactly homegrown with Joe Girardi (Cubs and Rockies), Tino Martinez (Mariners) filling the huge shoes of Don Mattingly at first base, Mariano Duncan (many NL teams) manned second base, and Wade Boggs (Red Sox) was at the hot corner. Jim Leyrtiz did split time catching and Derek Jeter manned shortstop from Opening Day until present day for the only homegrown talent on the team.

From the infield to the outfield we saw much of the same story. Darryl Strawberry (Mets) and Tim Raines (Expos) played a lot of left field after home grown talent Gerald Williams was traded to Milwaukee midway through the season. Paul O'Neill (Reds) was the rock of the outfield after coming over from Cincinnati. The Yankees had Bernie Williams manning center field for the only Yankees homegrown talent in the outfield.

The designated hitter spot belonged to Ruben Sierra (Rangers) before he was traded to the Detroit Tigers for Cecil Fielder.

The Yankees rotation in 1996 was far from homegrown with Kenny Rogers (Rangers), Jimmy Key (Blue Jays), Dwight Gooden (Mets) and David Cone (Royals) joining the homegrown Andy Pettitte on the mound.

The Yankees bullpen, again, was far from homegrown with John Wetteland (Montreal) closing out games, Jeff Nelson (Mariners) pitching in middle relief, and had Jim Mecir (Mariners) and Steve Howe (Dodgers) making major appearances. The only homegrown Yankees in the bullpen that season were Bob Wickman and the great Mariano Rivera.

So as you can see the cry for the homegrown talent may be fun for us fans but it won't necessarily win us a World Series this year or any time in the future. The Yankees will still need free agency, they will still need international signings, and they will still need to make trades.

Quick Hit: Mark Teixeira Needs to Calm Down

Can someone, anyone reading this, please give Mark Teixeira a chill pill please? This guy is completely out of control right now, not that I have an issue with it. Back last month the Yankees third base coach Joe Espada sent Teixeira home on what should have been a routine scoring chance for the Yankees. Long story short, Teixeira was thrown out after being told to take it easy and Mark took offense to it. Mark had a point, he could have gotten hurt, but the way he reacted was a bit outlandish in my opinion. He stood there staring down at Espada mouthing something that we will probably never hear and even threw a water cool Paul O’Neill style in the clubhouse. Then Sunday came…

On Sunday Teixeira was heading over into the stands to catch a foul ball against the Toronto Blue Jays. Again, long story short the ball fell into the stands and contact was made between Teixeira and the fans. If you watched the game or even the replays you can see that the fan gave Teixeira a chance to catch the ball, something the fan did not have to do since the ball was in HIS part of the stadium. The contact with Teixeira was minor and obviously and blatantly accidental, however Teixeira alluded to being “assaulted” in an interview after the game.

Mark, again with good reason, was worried about his health and his safety on the play but again, it was accidental. The ball was in the stands, that’s fair game for the fans, and the fan gave him a chance to catch the ball. The fan did not move until the ball had hit the ground and was called a foul ball basically being the anti-Steve Bartman. The fan did what he was supposed to and if you did what you were supposed to the out would have been made and the contact would have never been made, calm down Mark. 

Weekly Check In: Aaron Judge

So I was sitting on Twitter yesterday like I do about every morning when the discussion of calling up Aaron Judge, Jose Pirela and Gary Sanchez to the big leagues came up. The long and the short of it was without injuries these men seem destined to be stuck in Scranton with the RailRiders, especially Sanchez and Judge. Sanchez not only has Brian McCann in his way but JR Murphy as well while Judge has Carlos Beltran and Chris Young blocking his progression to the Major Leagues. With Alex Rodriguez on the team for two more years and Carlos Beltran under contract for the 2016 season it may be the 2017 season before we really get a true look at Judge, and that is going to be counterproductive in my opinion.

Barring an injury or shocking retirement Judge is stuck in the minor leagues for a while in my opinion. The Yankees cannot trade either A-Rod or Beltran and they can only DH one of them. Rodriguez’s days in the field are numbered making him extremely unlikely for a bench spot while Beltran’s inability to play center field or left field make him less than an ideal candidate to replace Chris Young off the bench in 2016. Judge has played center field, left field and right field in the minor leagues but PNC Field is no Yankee Stadium, he’s a right fielder only in the Bronx further complicating the issue.

I don’t mean to start off your Tuesday by depressing you but I just want to temper some of the expectations that Judge may be here to stay sometime this season or at the beginning of next season. We have to keep in mind that despite the fact that he’s hitting for power and despite the fact that he was dealing with a back injury for who knows how long he’s still only hovering around the .230 mark in Triple-A. Judge is a polished college bat that was projected to fly through the system but those projections usually slow down to a halt when a Yankees prospect reaches Scranton, and the same will happen to Judge as well. 


Mike Ford Named FSL Player of the Week

Tampa, Fla. - The Florida State League named Tampa Yankees Infielder Mike Ford Player of the Week today. This honor was for games played August 3 - 9, 2015.

Ford played in six (6) games and collected 7 hits in 28 plate appearances for a .389 batting average. He had two (2) homeruns, three (3) doubles, scored seven (7) times, with six (6) RBI's. His OBP was .560 and his slugging percentage was .889.

This is the third year of professional baseball for the 2013 non-drafted free agent from Belle Mead, New Jersey.

The Tampa Yankees are the Single-A Advanced Affiliate of the New York Yankees. For more information about the Tampa Yankees call (813) 673-3055 or visit www.tybaseball.com.

This Day In New York Yankees History 8/11: Reggie Jackson Hits #400

Reggie Jackson was only a member of the New York Yankees for a short time but he made the most of his time in pinstripes and even got his number retired. Mr. October made a bit of history on this day in 1980 as he connected for his 400th home run of his career. Reggie hit the milestone home run off the White Sox pitcher Britt Burns. Jackson would finish his career with 563 home runs which was good for sixth all time when he retired in 1987.

Also on this day in 1973 the Yankees held Old Timers Day at Yankee Stadium and the crowd was treated to a show. Mickey Mantle would hit a home run off his good friend Whitey Ford during the exhibition game a pitch after he hit one foul into the upper deck.