Wednesday, February 3, 2016

Yankees Prospects Night Open Thread featuring Greg Bird

Greg Bird is technically not a prospect anymore after taking the league by storm in 2015 and getting more than 150 at bats but this is my Prospects Month and I do what I want. Bird was especially useful for the Yankees last season after Mark Teixeira went down due to injury because of his power so I decided to post up a home run reel from the 2015 season for Mr. Bird. 

Bird will miss the 2016 season with a torn labrum in his shoulder and we wish him well in his recovery. 

What To Expect From The Yankees' Rotation

It's been a very bizarre offseason in the Bronx. Amid rumors of both frugality and spending sprees, the team simply wound up taking two positions of relative strength and versatility and making them both stronger and more versatile.

The big headline, of course, was the addition of Aroldis Chapman to the already deadly closing duo of Dellin Betances and Andrew Miller. This move, despite a little bit of controversy regarding Chapman's potential legal troubles off the field, gave the team arguably the best back-end bullpen in league history. Meanwhile, the Yankees also upgraded second base by snagging All-Star Starlin Castro from the Cubs. Second base wasn't exactly a position of strength yet, but you can find a whole lot of Yankees fans who already considered a platoon of Rob Refsnyder and Dustin Ackley to be a gigantic upgrade over the indescribably useless Stephen Drew. Plenty were ready to see Refsnyder get his shot.

These moves have turned the Yankees into a more complete team - not a perfect one by any means, but one that looks as likely as any other to come out on top in the crowded AL East. The defense should be terrific, the lineup is strong, and the bullpen could be legendary. The lingering questions, frustratingly, lie with the starting rotation. So let's try to piece together a reasonable projection for the Yanks' starters....

Who's In The Rotation?

To begin with, it's most important to try to guess at which pitchers will actually make up the rotation. The only absolute, unquestioned sure starters appear to be Masahiro Tanaka and Luis Severino, who will likely duke it out for the number one spot (it's almost certainly Tanaka's to lose). Beyond those two, Michael Pineda is very likely to be in the rotation again despite severe regression in 2015, and provided good health coming out of spring training CC Sabathia will get a spot because he's CC Sabathia. That pretty much leaves one spot up for grabs between Nathan Eovaldi, Ivan Nova, and possibly Bryan Mitchell. For what it's worth, the Yankees' depth chart lists Eovaldi in the rotation with Nova and Mitchell occupying the sixth and seventh spots, and I'd guess that's how it shakes out. Nova looks like a spot starter and long man at this point, particularly following the departure of Adam Warren in the Castro trade. And Mitchell is unproven as a starter.

Who's Preventing Runs?

It's about the most basic question you could pose regarding a starting rotation, and yet where the 2016 Yankees are concerned it's something like an unsolvable riddle. The important thing to remember is that ERA is far from a defining stat regarding a team's defensive performance. In 2014, the Angels were one of the top teams in baseball and finished with a 3.58 team ERA, placing them 15th in the league. That's a good thing, because frankly 3.58 would seem pretty strong for this rotation. Taking the five names listed above for expected rotation spots, the combined ERA a season ago at the major league level was 3.94. Meanwhile, excluding Severino from the bunch (because he was a rookie), the other four gained 2.5 runs on their collective ERA between 2014 and 2015 - though most of that can be attributed to Michael Pineda. All things considered, Tanaka and Severino are the only two who look like safe(ish) bets for 3.50 ERAs or lower.

What Needs To Happen?

For everything to go right in 2016, a number of things have to happen. This is a rotation full of question marks, but let's not forget it's also one with elite potential. Most importantly, Tanaka needs to perform more like he did in 2014 (13-5 with a 2.77 ERA, 3.04 FIP, and 15 HR allowed) than in 2015 (12-7, 3.51 ERA, 3.98 FIP, 25 HR). Given that he underwent elbow surgery to fix a bone spur issue, perhaps he'll get back to his dominant ways. The Yankees can also hope for more of the same from Luis Severino, who was dominant as a rookie, and Nathan Eovaldi, who pitched to an unattractive 4.20 ERA but ate innings, racked up strikeouts, and won games consistently. The big uncertainties lie with Pineda and Sabathia. Sabathia showed signs of figuring out how to pitch without power late in 2015 and actually dropped his ERA by half a run from 2014, so the hope is that that tr ajectory continues. Pineda was simply an inexplicable disaster in 2015, and we can only hope he regains his number two starter form.


Hey, who knows, right? But given what we know and the trends of the past season, here are one writer's wild guesses at what we might hope to see in terms of win-loss records and ERAs from the Yankee starters:

  • Masahiro Tanaka: 14-7, 3.20

  • Luis Severino: 13-4, 3.15

  • Michael Pineda: 10-10, 4.00

  • Nathan Eovaldi: 15-6, 3.90

  • CC Sabathia: 7-9, 4.10

Those projections show marginal improvement pretty much across the board, but that may not be unfair. Tanaka is healthier, Eovaldi has steadily improved as a Yankee, Pineda's 2015 seemed too bad to be true, and Sabathia seemed to figure something out late in 2015.

It's not going to be a dominant rotation, but it may be good enough given the rest of the Yankees' improvements.


Rising MLB star, Corey Dickerson was recently traded from the Rockies to the Rays. Fantasy players had high hopes for Corey's 2015 season but chronic plantar fasciitis and rib fractures limited him to 224 AB. He still managed to bat .303 with 10 HR in limited duty.

Manager Walt Weiss has been quoted as saying, "this kid could hit underwater." His talent is not being questioned. We're going to look at the long term implications of his 2015 injuries and see if he is worth the gamble in 2016.

Dorante Returns for Third Season as RiverDogs Skipper as Yankees Unveil 2016 Staff

Dorante Returns for Third Season as RiverDogs Skipper as Yankees Unveil 2016 Coaching Staff
Colbrunn returns as hitting coach as Pope named pitching coach

CHARLESTON, SC – The New York Yankees have announced that Luis Dorante, who guided the Charleston RiverDogs the past two seasons, will return as the club’s manager in 2016.

Dorante becomes the first manager to return for a third consecutive season since Torre Tyson guided the RiverDogs from 2007-09.

“It’s wonderful, Dorante said of his return to Charleston. “I’m very happy to be back for the third year. Last year, I enjoyed it here big time.”

“My family enjoys Charleston and being around the stadium,” he added. “The facilities are nice, and the atmosphere, along with the people of Charleston, are phenomenal.

“Our fans are great as they’re always on top of things regarding who is doing well. They give us good feedback.”

Prior to joining the RiverDogs in 2014, Dorante served as the bullpen coach for the Pittsburgh Pirates from 2008-10 and managed 11 seasons in the minor leagues. His first RiverDogs team in 2014 notched a 71-69 record while last year Charleston finished 66-74.

Dorante was the first base coach for the Trenton Thunder, the Yankees’ Double-A affiliate, in 2012 and ‘13, and he also skippered the Aguilas de Zulia to a 34-29 mark in the Venezuelan Winter League during the 2013 offseason, good for second place. A native of Falcon, Venezuela, he spent six seasons as a player in the Boston Red Sox organization prior to beginning his coaching career.

Born on October 25, 1968, Dorante appeared in 221 games over six seasons in the Red Sox farm system. A right-handed batter, he primarily caught, but also made appearances at first base, third base and in the outfield. Dorante compiled a career batting average of .216 with 32 doubles.

After retiring following the 1993 season, Dorante joined the Montreal Expos organization in 1994 as an international scout. The next year he began his managerial career when he steered the Expos’ Gulf Coast League team to a 21-35 record. He has managed in five different leagues over his 11 seasons at the helm, including the South Atlantic League in 1998 when he guided the now-defunct Cape Fear Crocs to an 80-61 finish.

Joining the staff as the team’s hitting coach is former RiverDogs manager and hitting coach Greg Colbrunn. A veteran of 13 major league seasons as a player, Colbrunn, who resides in nearby Mt. Pleasant, interrupted his RiverDogs stint with a two-year stretch (20013-14) as the hitting coach for the Boston Red Sox, including their World Series championship year in 2013.

The 47-year-old Colbrunn spent seven of the last nine years with the RiverDogs, serving five seasons as the hitting coach from 2007-09 and 2011-12, and one campaign as the club’s manager in 2010.

Selected by Montreal in the sixth round of the 1987 draft out of Fontana (CA) High School as a catcher, Colbrunn hit .289 (801-for-2,769) with 155 doubles, 12 triples, 98 home runs, 422 RBI, 337 runs, 170 walks and 29 stolen bases over 992 career big league games with the Expos (1992-93), Marlins (1994-96), Twins (1997), Braves (1997-98), Rockies (1998), Diamondbacks (1999-2002, ’04) and Mariners (2003) while appearing primarily at first base.

The former infielder spent 13 seasons in the major leagues with stints in Montreal, Florida, Minnesota, Atlanta, Arizona, Colorado and Seattle. He won a World Series ring playing for the Diamondbacks in 2001 when the team upset the New York Yankees. He collected his second ring with the Red Sox in 2013.

Justin Pope joins Dorante’s staff after spending last season as the pitching coach for the Pulaski Yankees in the Appalachian League where he mentored the Baby Bombers to a league best 3.08 ERA. Pope also brings two years of experience as a manager under his belt, serving as the skipper for the Staten Island Yankees of the New York-Penn League from 2012-13 where his teams compiled a 64-86 record. Pope began his coaching career in Staten Island in 2010 and in Double-A Trenton in 2011.

As a player, the West Palm Beach, FL native compiled a 38-34 record with a 3.34 ERA over eight minor league seasons with the Cardinals, Yankees and Phillies organizations, reaching as high as Triple-A. A member of the University of Central Florida Athletic Hall of Fame, Pope was named an All-American in 2001before being taken 28th overall by the St. Louis Cardinals in the MLB Amateur Draft. Pope still stands as the Knights’ all-time leader in career wins (32) and strikeouts (335).

Travis Chapman returns for his second season with the RiverDogs and fourth as a coach in the Yankees system. The Jacksonville, FL native enters his second season in Charleston as the defensive coach after previously making his managerial debut with the GCL Yankees in 2014 and leading the club to a division best 38-22 record.

Chapman spent eight seasons in the minor leagues as a player, highlighted by one major league appearance for the Phillies in 2003. Over his career, he hit .286 with 41 home runs and 286 RBI in 506 career games for the Phillies, Royals, Reds and Pirates organizations, appearing primarily as a third baseman. Chapman attended Mississippi State University from 1997-2000, where set school records for career doubles (71), sacrifice flies (22) and hit-by-pitches (44), as well as the single-season hit-by-pitch record (19).

Michel Hernandez will guide the catchers on Dorante’s staff in 2016, marking his fourth year in the Yankees organization after he served as the defensive coach in Double-A Trenton last season. Hernandez spent his first two years as a coach with the GCL Yankees after a 15 year playing career that included 45 games in the major league during stints with the Yankees in 2003 and the Tampa Bay Rays from 2008-09.

A native of La Habana, Cuba, Hernandez signed as an undrafted free agent with the Yankees in 1998 before compiling a .257 average with 35 home runs and 40 RBI across 15 minor league seasons. He racked up a .237 batting average with one big league home run and 12 RBI in 127 plate appearances in the Show.

Additionally, Jimmy Downam returns for his third year as the RiverDogs’ trainer while Anthony Velazquez, who also was with Charleston the last two seasons, returns as the strength and conditioning coach.

Harris Seletsky has been named Charleston’s clubhouse manager after holding the same position in Pulaski last season. Cody Cockrum joins the RiverDogs staff as the video manager.

The RiverDogs, the Class A affiliate of the New York Yankees, begin their season on April 7 with a seven-game homestand that features the in-state rival Columbia Fireflies (April 7-10) and the Asheville Tourists (April 11-13). Ticket information may be secured by contact the box office at 843/577-DOGS (3647) or online at

TGP Prospects Month Top 29 Prospect List - #27 Ben Gamel

Ben Gamel broke out in a big way in 2015 and even won the Minor League Player of the Year Award as a member of the New York Yankees. Gamel's breakout season could not have come at a better time as he was faced with the uncertainty of whether the team would add him to their 40 man roster or if the team would leave him unprotected from the Rule 5 Draft this winter. After a great season it almost seemed like an easy decision for New York as they added Gamel to the 40 man roster thus starting his minor league clock.

We learned all about Gamel yesterday in our Meet a Prospect so I won't spend too much time on him here today, if you missed it check out yesterday's post. The problem for Gamel going forward is he fits the mold of the defensive first and speedy left-handed hitting outfielder that the Yankees seemingly have too many of already. This is why the team traded Ramon Flores last summer and this is why players like Brett Gardner, Mason Williams, Slade Heathcott and Jacoby Ellsbury are already on the roster. Will there be room for Gamel? You wouldn't think so but while there isn't room on the Yankees roster for Gamel right now there is definitely room for him on our Top 29 Prospects List as a part of Prospects Month.

Ben Gamel
5'11" - 185 lbs. - LH - Outfielder

2010 18 Rk 7 28 3 7 1 0 0 1 3 8 .280 .357 .320 .677
2011 19 A- 55 220 20 55 19 2 30 7 24 50 .289 .373 .432 .804
2012 20 A 110 476 56 136 23 2 61 19 23 71 .306 .342 .394 .737
2013 21 A+-AA 112 495 55 115 32 4 54 22 52 95 .267 .342 .387 .730
2013 21 A+ 96 423 50 99 28 3 49 21 48 77 .272 .352 .396 .748
2013 21 AA 16 72 5 16 4 1 5 1 4 18 .239 .282 .343 .625
2014 22 AA 131 586 58 142 31 2 51 13 36 88 .261 .308 .340 .648
2015 23 AAA 129 551 77 150 28 10 64 13 46 108 .300 .358 .472 .830
2015 23 FgW 25 101 8 22 4 3 15 3 11 18 .253 .327 .402 .729
27. Ben Gamel
28. Austin DeCarr
29. Thairo Estrada
30. James Pazos

Meet a Prospect: Jorge Mateo

The New York Yankees went out and signed a relatively unknown international free agent back in 2012 for a mere $250,000 and boy was that one of the greatest decisions the team and organization ever made. Mateo has grown from an international free agent that the Yankees signed out of the Dominican Republic to the top prospect in the entire organization according to many prospects lists released this winter.

Mateo makes he way on the basepaths as the Yankees top shortstop prospect stole 82 bases in 2015 in 99 attempts. While Mateo is described as having "nervous feet" at shortstop he has the ability, the arm strength and the range to play either short, third base or second base in the future. New York even had Mateo work out at second base in the Instructional League as the team decides where Mateo will play in the future. At the moment Didi Gregorius is the shortstop of the present and the future in the Bronx so Mateo will either have to force at bats with the organization, move positions or become trade bait.

Jorge Mateo
6'0" - 188 lbs. - shortstop and DH

2012 Yankees 2 14 69 15 14 2 1 1 8 4 12 11 .255 .382 .382 .764
2013 Yankees 1 64 299 50 74 9 6 7 26 49 34 52 .287 .378 .450 .828
2014 Yankees 1 15 65 14 16 5 1 0 1 11 7 17 .276 .354 .397 .750
2015 2 Teams 117 500 66 125 23 11 2 40 82 43 98 .278 .345 .392 .737
2015 Charleston 96 409 51 98 18 8 2 33 71 36 80 .268 .338 .378 .716
2015 Tampa 21 91 15 27 5 3 0 7 11 7 18 .321 .374 .452 .826
All Levels (4 Seasons) 210 933 145 229 39 19 10 75 146 96 178 .279 .359 .410 .769
FRk (2 seasons) 78 368 65 88 11 7 8 34 53 46 63 .281 .379 .438 .816
Mateo broke out in 2015 and will have all the eyes of the organization on him in 2016. For some that's a good thing, some players thrive off the pressure and attention, while for some they can be their own worst enemies. Mateo seems to have a strong head on his shoulders and an even higher on-base percentage and ability to steal bases so he should ultimately be fine as he continues to climb the Yankees organizational ladder.

Dogs Release Valentine’s Day Ticket Plans for Lovers and Loners Alike

RiverDogs Announce Specialty Ticket Plans Delivered by Charlie T. RiverDog

CHARLESTON, SC – Surprise your sweetheart and make this Valentine’s Day one to remember with a date at The Joe and a special personal delivery from Charlie T. RiverDog.

Cupid’s bow is drawn and with the big day right around the corner, the Charleston RiverDogs unveil their special Valentine’s Day packages.

“Love is always in the air this time of year,” said President and General Manager Dave Echols. “These packages allow everyone, whether in love with someone else or themselves, to bring that love to the ballpark this season.”

During this time of love, the RiverDogs are providing their fans four distinct packages from which to choose for happy couples and lone wolves alike. For $125, the VIP Date at The Joe Package includes two box seat tickets for one Monday-Wednesday game at Riley Park, a three-course ballpark feast and a bottle of wine served at a romantic, white-linen table setting overlooking the first base side during the game.

Other bundles offered include “For Him” and “For Her” packages which come with four upper reserved vouchers, two gifts, and a rose for $50 and a special “Lonely Heart’s” package with one upper reserved voucher, one frozen dinner and one pint of ice cream for $20. Gifts included in the “For Him” and “For Her” packages include a baseball cap, a pair of RiverDogs earrings, a bottle of sparkling juice or a box of chocolates.

Loveable mascot Charlie T. RiverDog will once again deliver all of the Valentine’s Day packages ordered by the end of the day on Tuesday, Feb. 9 to their Valentines throughout the Lowcountry. Packages will be delivered on Thursday, Feb. 11 and Friday, Feb. 12, pending availability.

The RiverDogs, the Class A affiliate of the New York Yankees, begin their season - the 20th in their history at Joseph P. Riley Park - on April 6 with an exhibition game against the Myrtle Beach Pelicans and then follow that with Opening Night that begins a seven-game homestand that features in-state rival Columbia Fireflies (April 7-10) and the Asheville Tourists (April 11-13). Ticket information may be secured by contact the box office at 843/577-DOGS (3647) or online at

This Day in New York Yankees History 2/3: Andy Pettitte Says Goodbye

On this day in 2011 at Yankee Stadium Andy Pettitte became the first member of the Core Four to announce his retirement. Andy was 38 years old and had a 240-138 record at the time in his sixteen year career.

Also on this day in 2002 the Yankees resigned catcher Jorge Posada to a five year deal after putting up a .277 average with 22 home runs and 95 RBI's the season before. Posada was asking for $7.75 million in arbitration which would have made him the second best paid catcher in baseball history.

Also on this day in 1998 the Yankees replace their outgoing general manager Bob Watson with current GM Brian Cashman. Watson was not with the Yankees long but did win the 1996 World Series with the team, the first since 1978.

Also on this day in 1989 Bill White is chosen to be the president of the National League replacing Bart Giametti. Giametti is leaving to become the commissioner of baseball. The appointment makes the former Yankees broadcaster and first basemen the highest ranking black executive in professional sports at the time.

Finally on this day in 1961 Charlie O. Finley douses a school bus in gasoline and sets it on fire in the left field parking lot at Municipal Stadium in Kansas City. The school bus said "the Kansas City to New York shuttle" on the side of it and was meant to symbolize the end of the team sending all their talented young players to the New York Yankees for major league players past their prime. The Kansas City faithful truly resented that and the new owner of the A's vowed to end the practice.

Oh, and there was always this from this day in 2008....