Thursday, November 12, 2015

Brian McCann Wins Sixth Silver Slugger Award

Brian McCann has won his sixth Silver Slugger Award of his career tonight. McCann won five Silver Slugger Awards with the Atlanta Braves and has won his first with the New York Yankees and in the American League. McCann finished the 2015 season with 26 home runs, a career high, and 94 RBI, which tied a career high. McCann's triple slash leaves much to be desired, .232/.320/.437, but his OPS was third highest in the AL among catchers with a .756 OPS.

Congrats to McCann on his first Silver Slugger Award since 2011.

FYI: Seven Yankees Can Block Trades This Winter

With all the talks thus far this winter that the New York Yankees and Brian Cashman are being the most aggressive team in the league thus far the team could potentially have an entirely new identity in 2016. Brian Cashman is said to be listening on almost everyone, with the one exception being named by name being Luis Severino, including his closer Andrew Miller who does not have a no-trade clause written into his contract surprisingly. Seven members of the New York Yankees do have full or partial no-trade clauses and can veto any trade this winter that Mr. Cashman comes up with, those seven men are listed below for your reference. This is FYI.

Alex Rodriguez
Mark Teixeira
CC Sabathia
Carlos Beltran
Masahiro Tanaka
Jacoby Ellsbury
Brian McCann

Do the math Yankees family. That leaves Greg Bird, Aaron Hicks, Dustin Ackley, Robert Refsnyder, Didi Gregorius, Chase Headley, Brett Gardner, Michael Pineda, Luis Severino, Ivan Nova, Nathan Eovaldi, Adam Warren, Justin Wilson, Chasen Shreve, Dellin Betances, Andrew Miller, Bryan Mitchell and a slew of prospects and young guys that can be used at Cashman's will.

The Day I Met Yankees Great Bob Turley

On this day in 1958 Yankees reigning World Series MVP Bob Turley wins the American League Cy Young award. Warren Spahn would take second place by one vote with Milwaukee this season. Turley posted a 2.97 ERA with a 21-7 record with the Yankees while winning two games in the World Series.

In an interesting side note I actually met Turley one time in Blue Ridge, Georgia when I was working for a construction/residential cleaning crew. We went in and did a clean at his house after he remodeled his basement. I did not originally know who he was, all his memorabilia and such was not up since the basement was being remodeled, until I went to pick up a check from him after the fact. I only spent five minutes tops with him and honestly I did not know who he was when he told me, all I knew was that he played for the Yankees. I shook his hand and never got the chance to speak with him again before he died in March of 2013.

It pays to know your history and that is why this blog posts so much of it. Learn from the past ladies and gents.

Meet a Prospect: Aaron Hicks

The New York Yankees acquired switch hitting outfielder Aaron Hicks from the Minnesota Twins this week for their backup catcher John Ryan Murphy. Hicks is another young and exciting player being added to the Yankees roster while it opens the door for Gary Sanchez to fill the role of backup catcher. Hicks will likely be placed on the Yankees bench filling the role of Chris Young, barring a Brett Gardner trade to the Seattle Mariners or another team, so let’s take the time now to meet him. Meet a Prospect, Mr. Aaron Hicks.

Aaron M. Hicks was born on October 2, 1989 and spent his High School years at Wilson Classical High School in Long Beach, California. While playing on the West Coast he caught the eye of the Minnesota Twins for his play in the outfield and the team drafted him in the 2008 MLB First Year Players Draft in the first round. Hicks, a switch hitter and center fielder in High School, was named Baseball America’s 2008 Rookie All-Star and was immediately named the Twins top prospect in his first professional season.

Hicks followed up his first professional season with another strong sophomore season and an even stronger junior season as his RBI totals and home run numbers continued to grow. Hicks was named one of Baseball America’s Top 100 prospects lists four times before being named the team’s starting center fielder before the 2013 season. Hicks chose #32 to honor a former member of the Yankees, Dave Winfield, and stayed with the club until August 1 when he was sent back to the minor leagues for the remainder of the season. Hicks finished the 2013 season with a .192 average in 281 at bats with a .259 on-base percentage.

Hicks was once again the team’s starting center fielder before the 2014 season but his bat once again did not show improvement. Through the first 47 games of the 2014 season Hicks hit just .201 and was demoted back to Double-A on June 9th of 2014. Hicks began to come into his own during the 2015 season though as he slashed .256/.323/.398 while hitting 11 home runs and knocking in 33 RBI in 97 games. Hicks finally started to show off the speed, defense, versatility and offensive prowess that got him drafted in the first round by Minnesota during the 2015 season and will look to keep that going on for the 2016 season with the New York Yankees.

Welcome to the family Aaron. 

Meet a Prospect: Ronald Herrera

The New York Yankees acquired 20-year old right-handed starting pitcher Ronald Herrera this week in a trade with the San Diego Padres that sent utility man Jose Pirela back to the West Coast. While it hurts, as a self-professed prospect humper, to see such a useful piece and a guy that plays the game like Pirela leave the team it is also exciting to see potentially a top of the rotation type starter come back in return. Herrera reached Double-A this season with San Diego and is being showcased as a “solid big league starter” down the line despite his small frame, let’s meet him.

The Oakland Athletics signed Herrera out of Venezuela back in 2011 for a modest $20,000 and eventually sent him to San Diego in the Kyle Blanks trade from a couple years back. Herrera was praised when he was signed for being exceptionally polished, a trait he still showcases today, for his age and the fact that he featured three pitches already. Herrera could touch 94 MPH on his fastball when he signed with Oakland despite being just 5’10” and 168 lbs. and also throws a changeup and a curveball.

Herrera’s fastball is said to feature some late sinking action that induces a ton of ground balls, but not a lot of K’s unfortunately. Herrera is not the type of pitcher, at least not yet, that will blow opposing batters away 200 times a season. Herrera relies on his impeccable control, his late movement and his repertoire of pitches to keep the batters guessing and off balanced. Herrera can rear back when he needs to and find his mid-90’s fastball but his strikeout pitch looks to be his changeup at this point in his career.

More to come the more I can find on the latest Yankees prospect. Stay tuned. 

Remembering Yankees of the Past: Bob Turley

Robert Lee Turley, also known as Bullet Bob Turley, was born on September 19, 1930 in Troy, Illinois where he spent his High School days attending East St. Louis Senior High School in East St. Louis, Illinois. Turley was used as both a starting pitcher and a relief pitcher there where he caught the attention of Bill DeWitt, the general manager for the St. Louis Browns. Turley attended a workout camp for the New York Yankees before signing with the Browns for a $600 signing bonus in 1948.

Turley pitched for the Browns until the 1955 season when he was traded to the New York Yankees. Turley started off his Yankees tenure with a 17 win season while recording 210 strikeouts and a league-leading 177 walks. Turley led the Yankees staff to a World Series in 1955 against the Brooklyn Dodgers but ultimately fell in seven games. The disappointment didn’t stop there for Turley though unfortunately as he finished his second season in the Bronx with an 8-4 record but with a 5.05 ERA. Despite Turley’s struggles the Yankees were once again back in the World Series and Turley was back to facing off against the Brooklyn Dodgers, this time as a relief pitcher. Turley started Game Six but lost 1-0 against Clem Labine in a pitcher’s duel that forced a second consecutive seven game series between the two clubs. This time the Yankees would get the best of Brooklyn winning the series in seven games. Turley had his first World Series ring.

For the 1957 season Turley developed a curve ball to add to his arsenal and saw immediate dividends with his new pitching throwing the fourth best ERA in the American League, 2.71, and leading the Yankees to their third consecutive World Series berth. Turley won his Game Six start to force a Game 7 but the Yankees would fall to the Milwaukee Braves in seven games, Turley’s second disappointment with the club in the World Series. Turley reinvented himself once again in 1958 as he eliminated his wind up and had his best season of his Yankees tenure. Turley went 21-7 that season including 19 complete games and finished with a 2.97 ERA. Turley still struggled with his command, 128 walks surrendered in 1958, and once again struggled in the World Series against a familiar foe in the Milwaukee Braves. Turley saved the Yankees from elimination with a complete game shutout in Game 5 before coming back in Game Six to get a save I the 10th inning forcing a Game 7. Turley relieved Don Larsen in Game 7 and won his second game in three days with 6.2 innings of relief as he led the New York Yankees to another World Series championship.

Turley won the World Series MVP Award in 1958 while also taking home the Cy Young Award and the Hickok Belt Award which rewarded and recognized the top professional athlete of the year. Turley finished second in the American League’s MVP Award vote losing to Jackie Jensen of the Boston Red Sox to finish out his season. After all the accolades that followed his 1958 season Turley was due for a raise before 1959 and quickly became the highest paid player in Major League Baseball history at the time when he agreed to a deal worth $35,000. Turley started on Opening Day and gave the Yankees a 3-2 victory over the Red Sox but the overuse and abuse on his arm was evident for the remainder of that season. Turley finished the season just 8-11 and the Yankees did not make the World Series for the first time in his tenure, although Turley did bounce back in 1960 recording a 9-3 record with a 3.27 ERA. Turley was back in the New York groove and back in the World Series in 1960 against the Pittsburgh Pirates. Turley won Game Two of the series and started Game 7 before Bill Mazeroski hit the home run that walked off the final game of the series and gave the Pirates their World Series victory.

Turley’s ineffectiveness and heavy reliance on his curve ball was explained during the 1961 season when Turley battled through right elbow injuries for much of the season. Turley was reduced to just 15 starts and a 3-5 record and 5.75 ERA before being delegated to the bullpen by manager Ralph Houk. Turley was back in the World Series in 1961 and the Yankees were back to their winning ways defeating the Cincinnati Reds four games to one but Turley did not make an appearance. Turley had bone chips removed from his elbow before the 1962 season and saw a slight improvement in his performance. Turley negotiated with the Yankees to reduce his salary from $28,000 to $25,000 and only gave the Yankees 69 innings and a 4.57 ERA after his bone chip problem flared back up during the season.

The 1962 season would be Turley’s final season in pinstripes and it was one to be remembered for ole Bullet Bob. Turley was named the American League’s player representative for the union and Turley watched, watched being the key word as he did not pitch, as the New York Yankees defeated the San Francisco Giants for yet another World Series victory. Turley was sold to the Los Angeles Angels following the 1962 season with the condition that Los Angeles could return him if they were not satisfied with the deal. Turley lasted until July of 1963 before the Angels released him and allowed him to sign with the Boston Red Sox where he would finish his playing career.

Turley finished his career with a 101-85 record and a 3.64 ERA in his 12 seasons, most of which with the Yankees, including five World Series championships. After the 1963 season Turley agreed to remain with the Boston Red Sox as their pitching coach before ultimately ending his career in the International League with the Atlanta Braves. Turley moved to Alpharetta, Georgia for the final two years of his life before falling to liver cancer at age 82 in Lenbrook, a retirement community in Atlanta, Georgia. Turley was survived by his second wife, Janet, three children, seventeen grandchildren and a whole lot of Yankees fans. Rest in peace Bob as we remember you today. 

Weekly AFL Check In: Chaz Hebert

Chaz Hebert represented the New York Yankees this weekend in the Arizona Fall League Stars Game and did what he has done for the Surprise Saguaros for much of the fall, pitched a 1-2-3 inning of relief. Hebert has been piggybacking Ian Clarkin for much of the fall as it seems that Clarkin is only going to get around 4-5 innings per start and each time he has pitched Hebert is the first man out of the Saguaros bullpen. Hebert is not a name too many knew before the Arizona Fall League but between his good pitching performances and Gary Sanchez’s home run pop the New York Yankees farm system is being well represented in the desert.

Chaz Hebert: 

G: 4
GS: 0
IP: 9.0
W/L: 0-1
ERA: 1.00
K: 8
BB: 5
WHIP: 1.22

This Day in New York Yankees History 11/12: Andy Finishes Second

On this day in 1996 Mariano Rivera probably cost Andy Pettitte a Cy Young Award after the Blue Jays Pat Hentgen wins the award. Hentgen would get a total of 110 points while Pettitte garnered 104 points in the vote. Mariano Rivera finished in third place including one first place vote that, if it had gone to Pettitte, would have made the difference in the award coming home to the Bronx. We'll take the World Series ring and settle I guess.

Also on this day in 2014 the New York Yankees sent Francisco Cervelli to the Pittsburgh Pirates for left-handed relief pitcher Justin Wilson. This deal, one year in, is a win-win for both clubs.