Tuesday, September 29, 2015

Game Thread: New York Yankees vs. Boston Red Sox 9/29

The New York Yankees and the Boston Red Sox, rivalry renewed. The Red Sox tried to do the Yankees a favor the last two times that Boston faced off with the Toronto Blue Jays but the Yankees were unable to capitalize. Now The Blue Jays will hope that the Red Sox can do the same for them and knock the always tough Yankees down a few notches. The Yankees will send Michael Pineda to the mound to face off against the Red Sox starter Rick Porcello. The game will be played at 7:05 pm ET and can be seen on the YES Network and MLB TV.

You have just two more shots, two more, to see the Yankees live inside Yankee Stadium this season before the playoffs begin. Click the Yankees Tickets link to see the Yankees take on the Boston Red Sox as they finish their home schedule or to see New York play host to a playoff game in 2015 before they are all gone. Also be sure to get on Twitter and give @GreedyStripes a follow to root for the home team in their final three games in Baltimore and to interact with us during every game left this season.

TBA is ready to lead the Yankees to the promised land and the offense is ready to put this out of reach as early as possible. Here's to hoping it happens, Go Yankees!

Stephen Drew Likely Finished As A Yankee

Andrew Marchand of ESPN.com is reporting that Stephen Drew may never play another game for the Yankees.

Drew is still suffering from dizziness and equilibrium symptoms, and Girardi indicated that he doesn't expect Drew to return.

If Stephen Drew does not return this season, chances are he's finished as a Yankee due to his contract being up after this season (he was given a 1 year deal for $5 million this offseason). Drew has hit .201/.271/.381 this season, which is hardly enough to have earned another contract. Especially considering that Brendan Ryan is likely to exercise his player option for next season, Dustin Ackley is still arbitration eligible, and Rob Refsnyder would likely be just as good as Stephen for much less money.

For some reason I don't think any Yankees fan out there is sad about this bit of news.

Mat Latos the 2016 Version of Kyle Davies?

When the Miami Marlins decided to go "all-in" in the winter before the 2015 season the team made various deals including signing Giancarlo Stanton and Christian Yelich to extensions and acquiring the likes of Dee Gordon, Dan Haren, Mat Latos and others in various deals. While the Stanton and Yelich extensions look good on paper and the middle infield including Gordon looks to be set for a long time the team has not received the best returns from Haren or Latos. Haren has pitched much better than Latos, and essentially for free mind you as the Dodgers sent Haren's $10 million in salary along with the right-hander in the deal, which led Jeffrey Loria's club to trade Latos to the Los Angeles Dodgers before the trading deadline. Latos did not pitch much better in the pennant race and has recently been designated for assignment and ultimately released by Los Angeles, could he be a minor league option for teams, especially the New York Yankees who love these sorts of deals, for the 2016 season?

The New York Yankees sign a veteran to a minor league deal virtually every offseason with relief pitcher Jared Burton and starting pitcher Kyle Davies the most recent examples of this strategy. Burton was not long for the team but Davies led the Triple-A Scranton/Wilkes Barre RailRiders to the postseason as their "ace" after Luis Severino's promotion. Does Latos fit the mold and would the Yankees even want him?

The second question is much easier to answer than the first, of course the Yankees would want him if we're talking about a minor league deal. There is no such thing as a bad minor league deal, Hal Steinbrenner probably spends more on booze in a month than a MiLB free agent makes in a full season, and if Latos is willing to accept one then the Yankees, or any team, should pounce. At 27-years old I think Latos is far from done, even with a combined 4.95 ERA this season between the Marlins and the Dodgers. Latos is one season removed from an injury riddles 2014 season and two seasons from removed from his second consecutive 14-win season. 

It is not uncommon to see certain injuries carrying over the next season despite being fully healed, see Mark Teixeira's wrist injury from 2013, and it's not common for Latos to see his BABip above the .300 mark like it is in 2015. Latos strikes out enough batters to survives and contains the walks enough to be competitive while keeping the ball in the ballpark while keeping the ball on the ground enough to win ball games. If he wants to throw those strikes and ground ball outs in Scranton with an opt-out clause to come to the majors then sign me up, if not I think some team is going to get a ton of value on a relatively small MLB contract with Latos in 2016. Just a hunch. Plus I like his tattoos. 

My Confidence, or Lack Thereof, In The Yankees

I'm hardly the only Yankees fan that doesn't feel confident about the team right now.

"What the heck is going on with this team!?!?"

When the team is doing well I get upset when they lose, while at the same time I feel that when they win it's expected and therefore I don't get excited. But right now I feel the opposite... if they win I'm happy, but if they lose I don't get upset as I'm not really surprised.

That's pretty sad, isn't it?

But I'm not giving on them this season. They are still postseason bound. And any team that gets into the postseason has a shot. Sure, on paper, some teams have a better shot than others, but the winners aren't decided on paper. So I have to stay the course.

On that note, I decided to write down reasons why I'm confident and not confident about how the rest of the Yankees' season plays out...

Why I'm not confident in the Yankees heading into the postseason

1. The Yankees were 58-44 heading into August. Since then the team's record is 28-26 (.519). Speaking of record, often times having the best record in MLB means little, as sometimes it's the hottest team going into the postseason that wins it all. On that note, the Yankees are 14-12 (.538) since the end of August. That's not what I'd call "hot".

2. Going further with the idea of a team being "hot" going into the postseason, let's see what the team has done in the past 30 days...

  • Team wOBA of .317, behind playoff or possible playoff teams Toronto, Houston, Texas, Kansas City, and Minnesota. 
  • Team ERA of 3.93, behind Houston, Toronto, Kansas City, and Los Angeles of Anaheim.

Note how Toronto, Houston, and Kansas City are on both of those lists.

3. Brian McCann, Chase Headley, and Brett Gardner are in serious funks the past couple of weeks (wOBAs of .256, .224, and .202, respectively). Along with Didi Gregorius and Alex Rodriguez being average hitters at best during that same time, the team has only managed to score 45 runs (25th in MLB).

Now that I have the negativity out of the way, I'm going to get back to trying to be positive.

"Cheer up, little man."

Why I am confident in the Yankees heading into the postseason

1. Michael Pineda and Luis Severino have looked really good over their last two or three starts. And in his previous four starts, Masahiro Tanaka has thrown really well too. Those three are the team's probably top three starters in the postseason, which bodes well for the Yanks. Just don't bring up the 4th starter.

2. Andrew Miller, Dellin Betances, and Justin Wilson have done well as in the 7th through the 9th innings. That means a starter doesn't have to worry about going deep into games, and thus holding back something early on. If you need somebody for the 5th and/or 6th innings, we may have Nathan Eovaldi to step in. Provided he can relieve... something he hasn't done in MLB since his 2011 rookie season.

3. While McCann, Headley, and Gardner have been bad the past couple of weeks, regulars Greg Bird, Jacoby Ellsbury, and Carlos Beltran have been hitting quite well. Hopefully those six all return to normal (meaning some hit better and some worse, but falling into the "average" range), while Alex Rodriguez and Didi Gregorius hit a little better as they have in before 2015. That's not a tall order.

I'll wrap this up by doing something I usually shy away from.... thinking about other teams. See, normally I'm all about the Yankees doing their thing, and not worrying about other teams, but if I'm to root for something to happen I'd like to see Texas hold onto the AL West, while Houston falters and loses the 2nd WC spot to LAA or MIN. Plus, let's all hope that Toronto and KC lose it at least a bit.

"A little help here would be nice."

USA Today's Weekly MLB Power Rankings

The USA Today released their penultimate set of power rankings for Major League Baseball this week as the 2015 regular season comes to a close. In the rankings the New York Yankees once again struggled against the Toronto Blue Jays losing two of the three games while picking up the pace against the Chicago White Sox in a four-game series in the Bronx. Was it enough to jump those pesky New York Mets who they beat in the final series in last week's rankings?

I won't make this post suspenseful, the Yankees offense is doing enough of that lately, so we'll start with New York's ranking. After a very Yankees-like week the New York Yankees finished the week ranked 8th overall according to the USA Today. To round out the rest of the American League East the Toronto Blue Jays finished the week with the #3 position while the Baltimore Orioles finished the week ranked #16. The Boston Red Sox took the spot they lost to the Tampa Bay Rays last week back finishing with the #17 position while the Tampa Bay Rays were last seen in a familiar place, the last place spot in the division and the 18 ranking.

The Top Five teams according to the rankings are the #1 St. Louis Cardinals, the Pittsburgh Pirates, the Toronto Blue Jays, the Kansas City Royals and the Chicago Cubs. The five worst teams according to the rankings are the #26 Colorado Rockies, the #27 Oakland Athletics, the #28 Cincinnati Reds, the #29 Atlanta Braves and the #30 Philadelphia Phillies. The biggest rise of the week goes to the Miami Marlins who rose three spots to the #24 position while the biggest fall goes to the Cincinnati Reds who fell four spots to the #28 position.

One more set of rankings in a full week before the postseason, although I'm sure the USA Today will post an end of season set of rankings, and one more set of rankings before the rankings mean nothing. The postseason is a new season, a second season, and you can throw these rankings out the window. Cherish them until then, Go Yankees!

Game Preview: New York Yankees vs. Boston Red Sox 9/29

The New York Yankees and the Boston Red Sox are set to kick off the second game of a four-game series this week as each team winds down their 2015 regular season. The Yankees, a much better home team than away team, have three more games this week against the Red Sox and three more at home so the pressure is on New York, not Boston, tonight. The Yankees will send Michael Pineda to the mound looking to keep the winning ways going in the Bronx while the Boston Red Sox counter with their ace Rick Porcello. The game will be played at 7:05 pm ET and can be seen on the YES Network and MLB TV.

  • Pineda heads into possibly his final start of the season tonight fresh off another good start his last time out. The Yankees were concerned with Pineda since coming off the disabled list but the right-hander has delivered stellar starts against the New York Mets and the Chicago White Sox to regain his Big Mike XXL status. 

  • Porcello has finally been the ace that Boston thought they were getting when they traded for him from the Detroit Tigers and signed him to an extension before the season started. Porcello beat the Tampa Bay Rays in his last start and will look to keep his strong second half going tonight inside Yankee Stadium.

The Yankees and the Red Sox rivalry has been pretty one-sided in recent years with the exception of the 2013 season with the Red Sox missing the postseason for the second straight season and the third time in the last four seasons. Meanwhile the Yankees have just about clinched their first postseason since the 2012 season after missing out on October baseball for the last two seasons. What better team to clinch a playoff spot against than your most hated, bitter and storied rivals right? So get it done, Go Yankees!

The Plan To Sign Jason Heyward & Trade Brett Gardner

The New York Yankees have almost all of their positions and roster spots set in stone for the 2016 season as we sit here on September, 29. The second base position will be open with Stephen Drew hitting free agency, the 4th outfielder position will be left open with Chris Young hitting free agency and a few bullpen slots will be open with Chris Capuano hitting free agency, that's it. The Yankees have one of two choices here really, they can head into 2016 with basically what led them to the postseason in 2015 or they can get creative trading away Major League talent, signing Major League talent and continuing their youth movement. You guys know me, I started a blog called The Greedy Pinstripes, so you know what I want to do and you know that I come with a plan.

One player that the Yankees had discussions about in the winter of 2015 before he was ultimately traded to the St. Louis Cardinals was Jason Heyward. Heyward is set to hit free agency after the 2015 season at age 26, something you are seeing less and less of in the days of the luxury tax and profit sharing in Major League Baseball, after probably surpassing the 6.0 WAR plateau in what many consider to be a down season for the Cardinals.

The problem with acquiring Heyward is the team has no place to play him. Brett Gardner, Jacoby Ellsbury and Carlos Beltran are all under contract for the 2016 season and are all set to make significant salaries with the team. The good news, for lack of a better term, is that only two of them have full no-trade clauses meaning one could be traded to fill a spot for a starting pitcher or second baseman, Gardner.

The experiment, in my opinion, of having Ellsbury and Gardner hitting at the top of the same lineup has failed. It has failed because neither men are stealing bases or helping the team create runs. With a team that is reliant on the home run and less on manufacturing runs and big innings the team needs to make a change. Station to station baseball with some of the speediest guys in MLB is not working for whatever reason and Heyward, a left-handed batter, would help alleviate the problem. Slotting Heyward into the second hole in the starting lineup gives the team more on-base percentage, more pop in the lineup and more chances to score and score big when the likes of Brian McCann, Mark Teixeira and Alex Rodriguez come up behind them.

I love Gardner, I truly do, and I love everything that he brings to the table. His grittiness, his hard-nosed approach to the game and all the other intangibles that cannot be defined by simply heading over to Baseball Reference but his greatest asset, his speed, is being under-utilized with this team. Sending Gardner in an offseason trade with, for an example's sake, Ivan Nova and prospects could fetch the Yankees a good second baseman and the final piece to the puzzle while getting younger, and in my opinion better, in 2016.

Quick Hit: Comparing Dellin to Mariano in Season Two

When Dellin Betances broke into the league and broke into the back end of the New York Yankees bullpen in 2014 many compared him immediately to the Yankees legendary closer Mariano Rivera. When looking at the stats from Mariano's first full season in 1996 and Dellin's 2014 campaign you can see that Dellin met or exceeded many of Rivera's totals including passing his franchise record for strikeouts in a single season. Has Dellin met, exceeded or fallen short of Rivera's second season in the majors in only his second full season in 2015?

Dellin Betances 2015 stats (to date):

2015 ★ 6 3 1.36 70 8 79.2 41 15 12 5 39 124 295 2.43 1.004 4.6 0.6 4.4 14.0
Mariano Rivera's 1997 stats: 

1997 ★ 6 4 1.88 66 43 71.2 65 17 15 5 20 68 239 2.96 1.186 8.2 0.6 2.5 8.5
You have to keep in mind that Rivera was the closer for the New York Yankees in 1997 which led to a decrease in innings pitched and subsequently most of his stats in his second season. Rivera was throwing multiple innings in 1996 where he was limited to one, and no more than two, innings in 1997. The stats don't lie either way though and they tell a very interesting story, a story that states that Betances

Scoreboard Watching: September 29, 2015

The New York Yankees and the Boston Red Sox continue their final renewal of the rivalry in 2015 this week and the Toronto Blue Jays continue to battle the Kansas City Royals for the #1 seed in the American League. The Twins, Indians, Astros, Rangers and Angels continue to search for the final playoff spot in the American League. This is likely going to go down to the final game of the season, the way Major League Baseball had it planned out all along.

Tuesday, September 29

New York Yankees vs. Boston Red Sox

Toronto Blue Jays v@ Baltimore Orioles

Houston Astros vs@ Seattle Mariners

Texas Rangers vs. Detroit Tigers

Minnesota Twins @ Cleveland Indians

Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim vs. Oakland Athletics

Cleveland Indians vs. Minnesota Twins

This Day In New York Yankees History 9/29: Don Mattingly Has Six Grand Slams

Don Mattingly had a career with the bases loaded in 1987 as he hit more home runs with the bases loaded this season then some people hit in their entire careers. Mattingly set a major league record on this day by hitting his sixth grand slam of the season passing Ernie Banks (1955 Chicago Cubs) and Jim Gentile (1961 Baltimore Orioles). What makes this more amazing is Mattingly played 14 seasons in his career and never hit another grand slam outside of the 1987 season.

Also on this day in 1934 Babe Ruth hit his 659th and final home run in a New York Yankees uniform. Ruth had 49 home runs with the Boston Red Sox before being sold to New York and would add six more with the Boston Braves before retiring in the 1935 season.