Thursday, September 24, 2015

Recap: Yankees 3, White Sox 2

Carlos Beltran hit a line-drive three-run shot in the third and the Yankees snuck past the White Sox, 3-2, on Thursday night at Yankee Stadium.

Clutch: Beltran drilled one just over the left-field wall off Chicago's Chris Sale, giving the Yankees a quick 3-0 lead they would ultimately never lose. It was Beltran's third homer in the last six games, each of them having broken a tie.

Good Signs: Michael Pineda logged his second consecutive victory with a solid six innings, yielding just one earned run and eight hits while walking none and striking out six. Pineda's lone mistake was crushed for a solo blast by Trayce Thompson in the sixth, but otherwise, the Yankees' starter held the visitors to 1-for-8 with RISP.

Trouble: Relievers Justin Wilson and Dellin Betances had a tough time getting through the seventh, combining to walk three as the White Sox scored again. The run came across when Betances issued a free pass to Thompson with the bases loaded, though the righty did rebound afterwards to fan Adam LaRoche.

There's the Defense We've Been Waiting For: Chase Headley robbed Jose Abreu of a possible two-run double with a diving stop in the fifth, nearly falling down as he stood up to throw to first. The web gem was part of an all-around impressive evening for Headley, who also went a nice 2-for-4 at the plate.

Welcome Back: Second base prospect Rob Refsnyder laced a sound single to right in the second, the youngster's first big-league at-bat since July 18. Refsnyder is still unlikely to have many opportunities as the season winds to a close, but finally seeing him play was nonetheless exciting for some fans.

Next Up: The Yankees will look to make it two in a row when the series resumes on Friday, sending the surging CC Sabathia (5-9, 4.80 ERA) to the hill versus lefty Carlos Rodon (8-6, 3.78 ERA). First pitch is set for 7:05 p.m. ET, airing live on YES and WFAN.

Game Thread: New York Yankees vs. Chicago White Sox 9/24

The New York Yankees and the Chicago White Sox are ready to kick off their four-game series head-to-head here in the Bronx. The good thing about facing a team like the Chicago White Sox is that the Yankees are facing a team with a losing record at the time when they need the wins the most. The bad news about a four game series is that almost every team has an ace and you’re usually going to run into one in a four game set. The Yankees see that ace tonight as Michael Pineda heads to the mound to face off with the White Sox ace Chris Sale. The game will be played at 7:05 pm ET and can be seen on the YES Network, MLB Network and MLB TV.

You’re just about out of time to see the Yankees at home inside Yankee Stadium during the regular season and it’s getting late early as far as getting your postseason tickets nailed down. Don’t wait too long, click the Yankees Tickets link at the top of the blog and secure your seats now for October baseball. Also be sure to head over to twitter and give @GreedyStripes a follow to interact with us and root on the Yankees during each and every game that’s left this season.

#AcesGonnaAce. Go Yankees!

Remembering Yankees of the Past: Yogi Berra

Yogi Berra, quite possibly one of the best players to ever play Major League Baseball, passed away this week of natural causes in his sleep. Berra was living in an assisted living facility in West Caldwell, New Jersey and was 90 years old. Berra died on the same day he made his major League debut 69 years prior. With heavy hearts and teary eyes we remember Yankees of the past, we remember Mr. Yogi Berra.

“It ain’t over ‘til it’s over.”

Lawrence Peter “Yogi” Berra was born on May 12, 1925 in a primarily Italian neighborhood of St. Louis, Missouri called “The Hill.” Berra was born to a pair of Italian immigrants Pietro and Paolina Berra. Pietro came to Ellis Island, New York on October 18, 1909 at the age of 23 and nicknamed his son “Lawdie” which was derived from his mother’s inability to pronounce the names “Lawrence” or “Larry” correctly. Berra attended South Side Catholic School, now known as St. Mary’s High School, in south St. Louis but quit after the eighth grade to begin playing baseball in the local American Legion Leagues. There Berra learned the basics of catching, playing the outfield and the infield but more importantly earned the name “Yogi” from Bobby Hofman who thought Berra resembled a “Hindu yogi” when he crossed his arms and legs when he sat down waiting to bat or the way he looked depressed and sad after losing a game.

“Always go to other people’s funerals otherwise they won’t go to yours.”

In 1942 Berra hoped to sign with his childhood favorite team the St. Louis Cardinals but then Cardinals president Branch Rickey instead signed his boyhood best friend Joe Garagiola. Berra reportedly took the news tough but Rickey had an ulterior motive. Rickey was set to leave the Cardinals to join the Brooklyn Dodgers and wanted to bring Berra with him but the New York Yankees came calling first offering his a $500 bonus, the same bonus that Garagiola received from St. Louis. Berra’s minor league career was cut short after he served in the U.S. Navy during World War II as a gunner’s mate on the USS Bayfield. Berra was on the ship when the Americans stormed the beaches of Normandy in an attempt to take back France on what is now known as D-Day in the history books.

“You can observe a lot just from watching.”

Berra made his Major League debut with the Yankees in 1946 playing in just seven games before getting into 83 contests in 1947. Berra finished his Yankees playing career playing in over 100 games fourteen different times while also appearing in fourteen World Series, winning 10 of them. Berra played in 75 World Series games, had 259 at bats, 71 hits, 10 doubles, 49 singles, played 63 games as a catcher and had 457 catcher putouts, all World Series records that still stand today. Berra also hit the first pinch-hit home run in World Series history when he stepped up to the plate in Game Three of the 1947 World Series against the Brooklyn Dodgers. Berra took Dodger’s pitcher Ralph Branca deep, that same Ralph Branca that gave up Bobby Thomson’s famous “Shot Heard ‘Round the World” just four years later. Berra was a 15 time All-Star and was selected to 18 All-Star Games overall (MLB held two All-Star Games from 1959-1962) and won the AL MVP Award three different times never finishing lower than fourth in the voting from 1950-1957.

“If I can hit it, it’s a good pitch.”

Berra never truly got the recognition that Mickey Mantle or Joe DiMaggio got but it was Berra that kept the Yankees offense going for the most part during his tenure. It was also Berra’s defense and game calling, which was on full display when Don Larsen threw the only perfect game in World Series history with Berra behind the plate in the 1956 World Series, and his playing style was something for the newer generations of baseball players to look up to. Berra could hit bad pitches and cover the entire strike zone with a consistency unseen at the time in Major League Baseball. Berra had more home runs than strikeouts in five different seasons in his career and the Yankees catcher quickly became the original “clutch hitter” in the game. Berra, with a finger outside of his catcher’s glove, was also a great defender that simply did not make errors or bad throws while behind the dish. Most catchers now emulate Berra with the finger outside the glove and could only hope to be half as good as Yogi was in the assists and fielding percentage areas of the game.

“It’s deja vu all over again.”

When Berra got too old to catch he became a good defensive outfielder for the Yankees and even manned the usually tough left field at the stadium. There was nothing that Yogi couldn’t do which is why when he retired after the 1963 World Series he became the Yankees manager replacing Ralph Houk. Berra led the Yankees to the World Series in 1964, this time as the manager, but was not able to get the team past the St. Louis Cardinals in seven games. After just one season and a World Series trip Yogi Berra was fired as the manager of the New York Yankees.

“When you come to a fork in the road, take it.”

The Mets quickly signed Berra to be a coach on their staff and even allowed him to make four appearances as a catcher early on in the season. Berra was reunited with long time manager Casey Stengel with the Mets and stayed with New York’s other team for eight seasons, including their 1969 World Series run. Berra officially became the manager of the Mets in 1972 and led the team to an NL East Division crown. Berra was back in the postseason with the Mets in 1973 and even led the team over the heavily favored Big Red Machine en route to a National League pennant.  The Mets fell to the Oakland Athletics in that World Series but it took them seven games before they fell.

“Nobody goes there anymore. It’s too crowded.”

Berra was fired as the Mets manager on August 5, 1975 after compiling 298 wins and 302 losses including postseason play. In 1976 Berra was back with the Yankees as a coach when the team won three consecutive American League pennants and the 1977 and 1978 World Series titles. Berra was back as the team’s manager before the 1984 season but turmoil was back in the Bronx before the 1985 season due to owner George Steinbrenner. Steinbrenner had to convince Berra to stay on in 1985 by assuring him that he would not be fired. A mere 16 games into the 1985 season Steinbrenner fired Berra leaving the former Yankees catcher and Yankees legend to boycott the Yankees, Mr. Steinbrenner and Yankee Stadium all together.

“90% of the game is half mental.”

Berra continues his coaching career in 1985 when the Houston Astros signed him to be the bench coach. Berra faced off against his former team, the New York Mets, in the NLCS in six games and remained on with Houston for three more seasons before officially calling it quits after the 1989 season. Berra remained away from the Yankees and outside of Yankee Stadium until in 1999 when George Steinbrenner went to his house to personally apologize in person for his firing and the way it was handled. Berra and Steinbrenner were able to end a 14-year estrangement with the Yankees organization and invited Berra to spring training camp that season to work with the Yankees young catcher Jorge Posada. Berra was back in the Bronx.

“Thank you for making this day necessary.”

When his playing career was said and done Berra was an All-Star a whopping 15 times and won the American League’s MVP Award three different times. Berra appeared in the World Series 21 times as a player, coach and manager and won 13 of them, 10 of them coming as a player for the New York Yankees. Berra was voted into the MLB All-Century Team by the fans in 1999 and even managed both an American League and National League team to the World Series. Berra’s career in Major League Baseball was one to envy but the young Italian was far from living when he finally called it quits. Berra had his #8 jointly retired with Bill Dickey in 1972 and watched last night from heaven as the Yankees wore his #8 on their jersey sleeves in Toronto.

“I really didn’t say everything that I said.”

Yes you did Yogi and we love you for it. May you rest in peace and keep ‘em rolling until I get there to join you! Love you Yogi!

Starlin Castro, the Next Great Yankees Second Baseman

The New York Yankees let Robinson Cano walk to Seattle along with Jay-Z a few seasons back now and the team has had what the experts like to call a “black hole” at second base ever since. New York has plugged in the likes of Yangervis Solarte, Brian Roberts, Kelly Johnson, Stephen Drew, Brendan Ryan and now Dustin Ackley at the position with varying degrees of success while leaving much to be desired out of the position. The team does not seem sold on the emergence and development of Robert Refsnyder at the position so does this mean the team would be willing to work out an offseason acquisition with the Chicago Cubs for Starlin Castro making his the next great second baseman for the franchise?

Castro was one of the few bright spots for the Chicago Cubs during the rebuilding years and now that the team is flush with talent from their minor league system the franchise has seemingly shunned their former shortstop. Castro was moved from shortstop to second base to make room for Addison Russel and has been the talk of trade rumors for much of his age 25 season in 2015. Castro has had his fair share of ups and downs in his career but has turned it on lately hitting .345 with five home runs in his last months’ worth of games building his trade value to maybe its highest it has ever been.

Castro would fit right into the mold that the New York Yankees are trying to build their team around, middle infielders who can defend, carry their own with the bat and infielders that can play multiple positions. Defense, offense and versatility in that order and Castro owns all three. Castro will be just 26-years old at the beginning of the 2016 season thus fitting in with the Yankees semi-youth movement and is signed through the 2019 season at a reasonable rate with a club option for 2020. Castro never makes more than $11 million in salary in one season, and keep in mind that the Yankees paid $5 million each for Stephen Drew and Chris Capuano this season, and comes attached to a $16 million club option. For a shortstop or second baseman that can hit that’s relatively cheap, ask Robinson Cano and the Seattle Mariners about it.

What would it cost to acquire Castro? While he may come cheap in terms of a contract he won’t come cheap in terms of the prospect package. For a young, cheap and controllable piece though there aren’t many names that I wouldn’t include. Robert Refsnyder? Take him. Gary Sanchez? Sure. The problem is the team is flush full of infield and catching help, they need pitching. They would ask for Aaron Judge and I’d have to decline, same for Severino, but if it was a Bryan Mitchell led package with Ivan Nova, Branden Pinder, Jacob Lindgren, Caleb Cotham, etc. then I would at least have to listen. 

Game Preview: New York Yankees vs. Chicago White Sox 9/24

The New York Yankees are back at home in the Bronx ready to play host to the Chicago White Sox for the final four times this season. The Yankees will see the inside of Yankee Stadium at least nine more times this season, eight times during this home stand and one more potential playoff game, and the team will look to make the best of it starting tonight against the White Sox. New York is a much better home team than they are an away team, although I feel supremely confident in the team’s ability to go out on the road and win a game as well, so these eight games will definitely make or break the team’s AL East Division hopes. Tonight the Yankees will send Michael Pineda to the mound to face off with the White Sox ace Chris Sale. The game will be played at 7:05 pm ET and can be seen on the YES Network, MLB Network and MLB TV.

  • Pineda will look to once again harness some of those Big Mike XXL powers tonight against the Chicago White Sox. Pineda pitched quite well in his last start against the New York Mets and will look to keep that momentum going all the way into the postseason. Pineda will not have to worry about being pinch hit for tonight so expect more than 80 or so pitches this time around. 

  • Sale heads into this start needing just 11 strikeouts to break the Chicago White Sox franchise record for most strikeouts in a single season. Ed Walsh struck out 269 batters in 1908 for the White Sox. Sale is also just four K’s away from 1,000 in his career. Sale has struck out batters with great effenciency this season but his 4.66 ERA over his last 12 starts and 21 home runs allowed this season at least gives the Yankees a chance tonight in the Bronx.

The Yankees finish the regular season with four games at home with the Chicago White Sox, four games at home with the Boston Red Sox and three games out on the road against the Baltimore Orioles. No more Toronto, no more Houston and no more Texas. These eight games will 100% decide whether the team wins the division, makes the playoffs as a Wild Card team and whether the team will host a playoff series or have to win one out on the road. Despite the way it looks the division race is far from over and despite the way it looks this team is far from dead. Go Yankees!

Familiar Faces in Different Places… The Recap

The theme of the 2015 offseason for the New York Yankees was new faces in different places as the team saw plenty of turnover from the 2014 season. Francisco Cervelli was gone and John Ryan Murphy was in along with Justin Wilson. David Phelps and Martin Prado were gone while Garrett Jones, Nathan Eovaldi and Stephen Drew were in. Shane Greene was gone and Didi Gregorius was in. Brian Cashman the man credited with making these moves, was raked over the coals when he made these moves but have they surprising worked out for the New York Yankees GM?

Francisco Cervelli:
2015 120 469 51 124 15 6 39 1 44 83 .300 .378 .404 .782 115
John Ryan Murphy:
2015 61 153 19 39 8 3 14 0 9 37 .281 .322 .417 .740 103
Justin Wilson:
2015 5 0 3.04 69 56.1 46 19 19 2 19 62 132 2.52 1.154 7.3 0.3 3.0 9.9
David Phelps:
2015 4 8 4.50 23 112.0 119 59 56 11 33 77 86 4.03 1.357 9.6 0.9 2.7 6.2
Martin Prado:
2015 120 514 49 134 22 9 56 1 33 65 .287 .335 .396 .731 102
Garrett Jones:
2015 57 152 12 31 4 5 17 0 8 37 .215 .257 .361 .618 69
Nathan Eovaldi:
2015 14 3 4.20 27 154.1 175 72 72 10 49 121 95 3.43 1.451 10.2 0.6 2.9 7.1
Stephen Drew:
2015 131 428 43 77 16 17 44 0 37 71 .201 .271 .381 .652 79
Shane Greene:
2015 4 8 6.88 18 83.2 103 67 64 13 27 50 57 5.15 1.554 11.1 1.4 2.9 5.4
Didi Gregorius:
2015 143 537 56 131 22 9 52 4 27 78 .266 .315 .370 .685 89
As you can see it clearly looks like the Yankees won the trade involving Wilson for Cervelli. Wilson has been an integral part of the Yankees bullpen and Murphy has been no slouch both behind the plate and at the dish as he backs up Brian McCann.

Say what you will about the body of work that Eovaldi has put forward this season but 14 victories in the Major Leagues is 14 victories in the Major Leagues regardless of his run support. David Phelps didn’t exactly force the Yankees fans to miss him and while Martin Prado would have been a perfect fit for the 2015 Yankees and beyond, he’s under team control at least through 2016, the Yankees needed pitching at the point of the trade more so than the infield help. This one could go either way depending on how pessimistic you want to look at things but I think most people would agree this was another win for the Cashman.

Shane Greene has flopped in Detroit and Gregorius has been in the middle of everything good that is the New York Yankees this season. He hasn’t replaced Jeter but he’s made a lot of us forget about him and I don’t think anyone expected to be reading this in September of 2015, a mere season removed from the Captain’s retirement.