Sunday, January 10, 2016

The Boring Winter Ahead: Watch the 1998 World Series Game Four HERE

Game Four of the 1998 World Series between the New York Yankees and the San Diego Padres

Fantasy Baseball: Who Are the Atlanta Braves?

As a fan of the New York Yankees that has since moved out of the state and to metro Atlanta, Georgia I am forced to keep up with the Atlanta Braves. For one it’s all you can see down here without a MLB TV package and it’s the only baseball talk I get down here unless I am at a Yankees vs. Braves game and also it’s kind of frowned upon to not at least pretend like you’re rooting for the home team down here. For that reason alone I wanted to take this opportunity to shine a light on the current status of the Braves team as far as fantasy baseball goes because even my biggest Braves fan friends don’t know 90% of the team anymore. Maybe they will read and learn something and I hope that you do as well as you prepare for your fantasy drafts and lobbies.

You almost have to start with Freddie Freeman seeing as he is the only recognizable face left on the squad. Freeman is coming off a season in which he hit .299 with 12 home runs and 41 RBI through his first 66 games only to have his season derailed by several wrist injuries and an oblique injury or two. Freeman has since been given a clean bill of health but the fact remains that he will have little to no protection in the lineup and will not see many meaningful pitches all season long. If you need walks or intentional walks then go ahead and grab Freeman, if not he may not be worth a pick until around the 10th round or so. That’s not a bash on him that’s just a sign of what’s to come with opposing team’s strategy against his team.

New arrivals in Turner Field this season will be Ender Inciarte and Erick Aybar most notably. Inciarte will replace Cameron Maybin in center field and came over from the Arizona Diamondbacks in the Shelby Miller trade after breaking out in his rookie campaign with a .303 average, six home runs and 73 runs scored. Inciarte is likely to lead off in Atlanta and will be used as a weapon at the plate with his contact swing and on-base percentage as well as his ability to hit the ball in the gaps and steal bases. Inciarte seems like a shoe-in for 20 stolen bases, 70+ RBI and a .300 average. Inciarte’s biggest flaw? The fact that he struggles against left-handed starting pitching so keep that in mind if you draft him late in your draft. Hitting after Inciarte will be Aybar. Without the hitting protection of Mike Trout and Albert Pujols Aybar will an average, at best, middle infielder and likely a player I would personally stay away from in fantasy. He won’t bring you much.

Julio Teheran is a pitcher on the Braves that would be interesting to look at if you need a bonafide ace in your rotation. Teheran did not live up to the hype in 2015 posting a 4.04 ERA and a 3.27 BB/9 rate in what had to be a frustrating season for the Braves ace. Teheran saw his home run numbers go up in a pitcher friendly park and saw his road ERA skyrocket to above 5.40 so why should you trust him in 2016? Well first and foremost he will be around in the later innings giving you a low risk and high reward type pick to fill out your rotation. Secondly he will be throwing to Tyler Flowers this season who has drawn rave reviews for his pitch framing instead of Christian Bethancourt and AJ Pierzynski and finally another year under his belt cannot hurt, especially with a young pitcher. Teheran is going to be 25-years old this season and is heading into 2016 after stellar 2013 and 2014 campaigns under his belt before the step back in 2015. Buy low and sell really high on Teheran in my opinion.

If you’re looking for help later in the draft you can always look towards relative unknowns in outfielder Hector Olivera and bullpen arm Arodys Vizcaino. Olivera is said to have great plate discipline and a fluid swing that could produce 20+ home runs in a full season. Atlanta is already looking to trade one or both of Nick Swisher and Michael Bourn to make room for Olivera in the outfield while you, the fantasy owner, will likely also be able to use him at third base or second base making him a true value on your team. Vizcaino on the other hand will likely set up for closer Jason Grilli and would be the obvious candidate to take over if Grilli were to re-injure his Achilles tendon or stutter coming out of the gate at 39-years old. Vizcaino is a big strikeout guy that with the saves statistic added to his repertoire that could be a great find late in the draft.

These are just a few of the names that many of your fellow league mates may not know that you can become familiar with before your draft. It’s never a bad idea to have picks like Vizcaino and other Braves players ready to take with your last pick or two in the draft. Those are the picks you reach for the moon on and if it doesn’t work out you simply release and replace. Hopefully this helps your league and if I missed anyone let me know down in the comments section. 

Free Agent Market Quickly Becoming too Rich for My Blood

Remember a week or two back when we were all complaining about how slow the MLB free agency market was moving? Well yeah, I almost miss those days now. As a Yankees fan I guess it shouldn’t bother me either way, Brian Cashman has already said the team would stay out of the free agent pool and would rather stick to the trade market instead, but as a Yankees fan I also struggle to take the Yankees GM at his word sometimes. Part of me wants to see Cashman’s plan, or “plan” because who knows the truth besides him, all the way to fruition and another part of me wants to see a big free agent splash like Justin Upton or Wei-Yin Chen. After a slew of signings around the time the 2016 Hall of Fame class were announced though I may be singing an entirely different tune.

Irony aside, as the owner of a blog called the GREEDY Pinstripes, this free agent market is quickly becoming too rich for my blood. There are three signings in particular that kind of made me shake my head and wonder what in the wild, wild world of sports is going on here? First Alex Gordon returned to the defending World Series Champion Kansas City Royals for basically $18 million a season (yes I know some of the payments are deferred and the deal is a bit front-loaded but the AAV remains the same) before Neftali Feliz signed a deal with the Pittsburgh Pirates for $3.9 million. Finally Chris Davis, all 200+ strikeouts a season and 50 home run power of him, turned down $154 million on the free agency market. Seriously.

We’ll start with the big fish, Gordon. Gordon is not a huge power guy and is instead an average hitter with pop and great defense in left field. He has been one of the best, if not the best, left fielder in all of the game for many years now but is he really worth $18 million a season? According to the VALUE stat on he was worth $22.3 million in 2015 and $49.9 million in 2014 leading his team to the World Series. Obviously those numbers are skewed by his defensive metrics but still, I'm not buying it personally. He is a great fit for the team the Royals have built specifically but if I was the Yankees organization I couldn't bring myself to give Gordon $18 million annually no matter how good defensively he is. 

We’ll continue with Feliz who just a month or two back was thought to be waiting on a minor league deal with incentives for the 2016 season. Here we stand today in mid-January and he signs a deal with the Pirates for $3.9 million guaranteed. Say what? Isn’t this the same guy that posted a 6.38 ERA in 2015 and a 1.99 ERA in just 30 games 2014 while his Fangraphs VALUE was $3.0 million and -$1.6 million in those same years respectively.

Finally, Chris Davis and the mountain of money he turned down already from the Baltimore Orioles. The Orioles left a $154 million deal on the table that is either still on the table or has since been retracted depending on who you ask. Davis is a rare commodity these days that can give a team 50 home runs a season and a .250 batting average or less. Is that worth $154 million? Well that depends on the length of the deal, and I presume it would be 7-8 years in length, and the makeup of your team. In a world where Jason Heyward is getting over $200 million for defense and sabermetrics Davis is absolutely worth $154 million or more. You can’t win games when you don’t score making your defense a moot point. I just don’t feel like I would be comfortable with the Yankees giving him that kind of commitment for those sorts of stats. That’s my personal beliefs and they get more severe the closer to $200 million that potential deal gets.

And speaking of strikeouts don’t even get me started on what the Milwaukee Brewers just gave Chris Carter after the guy was designated for assignment and left out on the free agency market for two months. All strikeouts and power, no average and no defense is not worth $2.5 million. Sorry, it’s not.

So in closing it looks like once again Brian Cashman knew what he was doing all along in tackling the trade market early and often. He won’t get the credit for knowing what he is doing, goodness no, except for here on TGP but that’s ok. I don’t think he needs nor wants your approval anyway. 

Joe Nathan and No Such Thing as a Bad Minor League Deal

The New York Yankees bullpen has undergone a cosmetic change this offseason as the bullpen went from a strength, to awfully thin and back to seemingly a strength again. The team still needs to replace Adam Warren, a reliable right-handed pitcher that can both start and relieve if needed, but the team upgraded from Justin Wilson to Aroldis Chapman. The bullpen is looking awfully left-handed with Chapman, Andrew Miller and presumably a combination of Chasen Shreve, Jacob Lindgren and James Pazos competing for spots so the Yankees should look to add another right-handed arm if possible, what about Joe Nathan?

Nathan is a six time MLB All-Star and has 377 career saves to his name. The Yankees wouldn’t need him to close, they would merely need him to fill some valuable innings from the right side of the pitching rubber. Nathan is coming off Tommy John surgery and is 41-years old but has plans on pitching in 2016. Would Nathan accept a minor league deal? I’m not sure, probably not but you don’t know until you ask. If not a modest one year deal wouldn’t be the worst low risk high reward type signing for New York, would it? Especially for a former New York native, Nathan attended Pine Bush High School in upstate New York and Stony Brook University on Long Island.

Nathan has a career 2.89 ERA and 1.18 WHIP in over 917 innings during his 15-year career and is looking for one final opportunity before presumably riding off into the sunset. New York can offer him that opportunity with a minimal investment in terms of both years and dollars while the team can promise him the 6th inning and plenty of opportunities. It makes sense but it will likely come down to whether Nathan wants to close or not. If not, come aboard and welcome to the family… in advance.

Starlin Castro Joins Derek Jeter’s “The Players Tribune”

From a former New York Yankee to a current New York Yankee two players have joined up to deliver a message through the popular website The Players Tribune. Derek Jeter, former Yankees legend and All-Star, began the Players Tribune after his retirement in 2014 and gave sports athletes a format to express their feelings, write letters to their younger selves and gave the athletes a place to talk without their words being misconstrued or taken out of context. Jeter basically turned every willing and able athlete into a blogger like myself including one of the newest members of the New York Yankees, Starlin Castro. Castro took to the Tribune to tell the fans of the Chicago Cubs and the city of Chicago “Thank You” and we bring you that article here, originally SEEN HERE. Enjoy!


MLB to Begin Streaming in China

First Major League Baseball announces that you can buy just Yankees games and not the entire 30 MLB team package on their MLB.TV service and now they announcer streaming will begin in China? What a week! No really though I am excited about this because it potentially grows the brand and grows the sport, just like Rob Manfred said he was going to do when he took over as Commissioner of Major League Baseball.

Manfred and company announced a three-year strategic partnership between MLB and Le Sports in China to stream Major League games to fans that live in the Chinese mainland, Hong Kong and Macau. This would mark the first mass market MLB media agreement in China in the league’s history. Le Sports would hold exclusive rights in China to broadcast 125 MLB games per season along with Mandarin-language MLB programming such as the MLB Network.

The Chinese will now receive four live games per week in high definition during the regular season (96 games total), 20 postseason games, the All-Star Game, the Home Run Derby and all the World Series games. In addition to these games Le Sports will also continue to co-produce the reality show MLB Perfect Pitch and will also broadcast MLB Beijing University Baseball League and MLB Shanghai University Baseball League opening and final games this season.

This Day in New York Yankees History 1/10: Boomer David Wells

On this day in 2002 the Yankees signed David Wells to a two year deal worth $7 million to re-join the team. Wells was coming off missing the second half of the season after having back surgery. Wells posted a 34-14 record including his perfect game in his last two year stint with the Yankees from 1997-1998 before being traded to the Toronto Blue Jays for Roger Clemens.

Also on this day in 1983 a preliminary injunction was issued by the New York Supreme Court barring the Yankees from playing their opening games against the Detroit Tigers in Denver, Colorado. The Yankees asked for the games to be moved due to fears that their renovations to the new Yankee Stadium would not be completed on time.