Wednesday, April 27, 2016

Yanks Fall to Rangers, 3-2

     A night after the Yankees were blown out in Arlington, they sent C.C. Sabathia to the mound to try to take the rubber game of the three game series. The Rangers send lefty Martin Perez to the mound to oppose New York, bringing along with him his 11/13 strike out to walk ratio. Texas has lost all four starts made by the Venezuelan this season. If the Pinstripers were to win their second consecutive series, they would need to continue Perez's dubious streak of losses. and, would need a quality outing by their big left-hander.
    Both southpaws cruised through the first inning. In the top of the second, Starlin Castro finally got a hit with two outs and a runner in scoring position, something that has eluded the Yanks altogether too frequently the season. Castro lined a single into left, scoring Teixeira from third, 1-0. However, Texas would quickly answer in the bottom of the inning. After Sabathia allowed base hits to Ryan Rua and Rougned Odor, first baseman Hanser Alberto squibbed the ball back to the mound, where C.C. threw over to first while Rua broke for the plate and scored from third. Ultimately, the inning would be over when catcher Brian McCann threw out Odor attempting to take third. Then, in the bottom of the third,  Sabathia led off the inning walking Brian Holiday, who eventually scored on a two-out base hit by slugger Adrian Beltre, pushing the score to 2-1, Rangers.
     In the fourth, amidst a chorus of boos, Alex Rodriguez hit only the fourth homerun off a left-handed pitcher by a Yankee this season, sending the ball into the left field stands, tying the game at two. On the other side of the ball, the bugaboo for C.C. Sabathia all season has been his inability to get through the line up a third time. Tonight, in the sixth, going through the lineup for the third time, Sabathia walked the sixth hitter in the lineup, Odor, and then gave up yet another two-out RBI hit, this time a triple, off the bat of shortstop Elvis Andrus, giving the Rangers a 3-2 lead, where it would stay the rest of the night. All told, Sabathia did end up with a quality start, throwing six innings, allowing three earned runs and striking out five. However, the inability of the Yankees to put together a big inning, or even to score more than two runs, made Sabathia's outing all for not.
     One of a few positives that can be taken away from tonight's game is that Alex Rodriguez end of the night with three hits, including a homerun. Having began the series with an injury, hopefully tonight's performance is a preview of things to come for the 40-year-old. Another positive to be taken away from tonight is that the bullpen continues to pitch exceptionally well, allowing zero runs yet again.
     New York is off tomorrow night, but will begin a very important series in Fenway, against our rival Red Sox, beginning on Friday at 7:05 PM ET.

Game Thread: New York Yankees @ Texas Rangers 4/27

The New York Yankees have two tasks today and the good news for New York is that one tasks pretty much coincides with the other. The first task being achieving a victory against the Texas Rangers tonight inside Globe Life Park in Arlington and the second being not looking ahead to a large series with the Boston Red Sox that is looming this weekend. This has trap game written all over it, especially with the off day tomorrow, so hopefully the Yankees keep their foot on the gas and get another win to put in the win column. Donned with the task of getting the victory is the Yankees 5th starter CC Sabathia while the Rangers send Martin Perez to the mound to oppose him. The game will be played at 8:05 pm ET and can be seen on the YES Network, ESPN and MLB TV.

The Yankees have an off day tomorrow before heading to Boston to face off with the Red Sox inside of Fenway Park. The Yankees won’t see home for almost another week which gives you plenty of time to click the Yankees Tickets link at the top of the blog and to get your Yankees tickets in hands when the team returns home to Yankee Stadium. Until then though you can just live tweet the game with us on Twitter by giving @GreedyStripes, it’s almost like being there.

One more game in the heat in Texas and we head back to the north east where Mother Nature is not done playing her usual tricks. One day it’s warm, another day’s it’s freezing. Nothing cures this more than a win though so let’s get one. Go Yankees!

They Are Finally Updated!

I wanted to apologize for not having the Roster and Payroll pages updated. I would like to say that I have a good excuse for not having it done, but the truth is I'm just a neglectful idiot.

Anyway, those pages are finally up to date, and I'm going to try and keep them that way.


The Yankees Aren’t Great but the Braves Are Just Bad

The New York Yankees have not had the start to their 2016 season that many would have hoped, that may be the understatement of the 2016 season thus far. It was thought that the Yankees depth would take charge and the rotation and offense would be great if it could avoid the injury bug but while injuries have happened to upset the depth, and specifically the Scranton Shuttle, it hasn’t been the injuries that have hurt the offense or the rotation. It’s been flat out ineffectiveness and it’s been frustrating but at least we’re not the Atlanta Braves.

The Atlanta Braves went all in this offseason and last offseason but not in a way you would expect for a team to knowing they have a stadium on the horizon and ready to open up on Opening Day 2017. The Braves went all in and have basically traded off every recognizable part of the franchise that wasn’t tied down or hidden in Freddie Freeman’s latest wrist cast only leave their fans frustrated and their stadium empty for the most part. The Braves just aren’t bad though, they may be historically bad this season if they continue on the pace they are currently on.

In fact there are a few members of the New York Yankees that are at least close or leading the entire Braves team in certain categories. Sure it’s a small sample size but this is going to be a common theme around Atlanta no matter how big the sample size, this team is expected to struggle. 

  • The Atlanta Braves have three home runs this season. Carlos Beltran has four while Mark Teixeira, Brian McCann and Starlin Castro have three each. 

  • The Braves team OPS is .583. Every Yankee in the starting nine have a higher OPS with the exception of Chase Headley (.447) and Alex Rodriguez (.515).

  • The Atlanta Braves as a team are hitting .227. The usual suspects, A Rod and Headley, are the only Yankees regulars hitting below the magical number. 

  • The Braves as a team have four wins at the time of this writing. Yeah the Yankees don't have many more than that but it's more than four so go with it.

  • The Braves have three saves, Andrew Miller has five already and he isn't even supposed to be the closer right now. The Braves have five blown saves already, the Yankees have none. The bullpen is really good. 

USA Today’s Weekly MLB Power Rankings

The New York Yankees likely fall in the USA Today’s Weekly MLB Power Rankings will continue this week after the team struggled to put together a win for much of the week. New York did finish the week strong with a series win against the Tampa Bay Rays at home inside Yankee Stadium but overall it was another disappointing week in the land of the Yankees. The Chicago Cubs remained dominant while the Braves continued to struggle but there is sure to be a whole lot of change with the other 28 teams in between so let’s get caught back up.

The biggest rise of the week usually goes to the best team for the week and this week that distinction and those honors go to the Arizona Diamondbacks who rose nine spots to the #12 position. Theoretically for every rise there must be a fall, gravity says so and so does Newton’s law of motion if you use a rough translation, and the biggest fall of the week went to the San Francisco Giants. The Giants fell seven spots all the way to the #11 position. Ouch.

The New York Yankees fell four spots to the #21 position after a rough week and will look to turn that around this week against the Texas Rangers and the Boston Red Sox. Speaking of the Red Sox they finished the week #15 while the Toronto Blue Jays finished 10th. Baltimore continues to dominant the AL East Division right now despite offseason predictions that they would be in the cellar and they are doing well in the rankings as well coming in at #6 this week while the Tampa Bay Rays took a bit of a step back with a pair of losses to the Yankees finishing the week at #22.

The Top 5 teams in the league according to the rankings are the #1 Chicago Cubs, the Washington Nationals, the Kansas City Royals, the Los Angeles Dodgers and the Chicago White Sox. Meanwhile the five worst teams in the league according to the rankings are the #26 Cincinnati Reds, the Miami Marlins, the Milwaukee Brewers, the Minnesota Twins and the #30 Atlanta Braves.

Sample sizes ladies and gentleman. We can only use that excuse for so long. It’s almost May, then it will be June and then the league will be scrambling in July to improve or sell before the August 1st trade deadline. It goes in the blink of an eye some seasons but that’s usually only if you’re winning. We’re not right now, but we need to start. 

Game Preview: New York Yankees @ Texas Rangers 4/27

The New York Yankees have traditionally done well not only in the ballpark in Arlington but in the state of Texas as well. New York has one more game in the great state of Texas this week before an off day for travel tomorrow and a trip to Fenway Park and a date with the Boston Red Sox. The Yankees cannot afford to get ahead of themselves though as they face a tough task tonight inside Globe Life Park. The Rangers send one of their better pitchers to the mound in Martin Perez while the Yankees counter with their fifth starter CC Sabathia.

Sabathia has had the shortest leash of his career from manager Joe Girardi and when he exited his last start with less than 80 pitches you could tell he was visibly shocked and upset. Sabathia hasn’t gotten out of the fifth inning in either of his last two starts and will look to at least get a quality start tonight against the Rangers.

Perez has made four starts this season and has yet to come away with a victory decision to show for it, a trend that hopefully continues tonight. Perez has made one career start against the Yankees and it came last year when he allowed eight runs in one-plus inning of work in Arlington.

The game will be played at 8:05 pm ET inside Globe Life Park in Arlington and can be seen on the YES Network, ESPN and MLB TV. Every win is an important win for the Yankees at this point in the season and these wins are all the more enjoyable while you’re riding on a plane with an off day in your near future. The Yankees are off tomorrow so let the good times roll tonight.

Go Yankees!

The Problem With Luis Severino?

It wasn't long ago that I was a "win now" type of person. As long as the Yankees had a chance to win, I wanted them to do whatever it took. That type of mentality led to me being okay with trading away prospects. I remember getting into arguments with people like Daniel about that.

"You're stupid!"
"No, you're stupid!"

I would say things like "sure, (insert prospect name) may help us win in the future, but (insert trade candidate) can help us win now."

But that mentality changed not long ago. I think it was when Derek Jeter retired, and I finally realized that the Yankees had to evolve. There was no longer a core of players, like Derek, to build around. The team no longer had an identity, and it was time to build a new one.

Didi Gregorius, Aaron Judge, Jorge Mateo... those are just a few names of players that I see making up the new core for the team. Players that Brian Cashman, or his predecessor, will try and construct another dynasty around.

But what about pitching?

James Kaprielian is one of the pitchers I see anchoring the pitching staff for years to come. Along with Luis Severino.

Did I cause some of you to cringe just then? Did you think back to last night, when Luis gave up seven hits and six earned runs in just three innings? Or how about the fact that he only struck out one hitter during that outing? Just for good measure I'm going to remind you that the also threw a wild pitch.

While that was easily his worst start of the season, he hasn't been great in any of them. Against Seattle a couple of weeks ago he gave up eight hits and four earned runs in 5.2 innings, and only struck out two. And in his season debut a week before that he gave up ten hits in five innings (although he did strike out five without walking anyone).

The point is that one of the pitchers that I, and plenty of others, see the Yankees building around for the future may very well be a bust. And here's what I think of that thought...

After the first 12 stars of his career, Felix Hernandez had an ERA of 2.67. Fans in Seattle must have been ecstatic over their new king. Right up until the next season, when he finished with an ERA of 4.52. But the Mariners didn't quit on Hernandez, and I think it's safe to say they made the right decision to stick it out.

Zack Greinke's debut season with the Royals didn't go as well as Felix's, but he still threw to an ERA of 3.97. And how did he do in his 2nd season? A 5.80 ERA.

Jake Arrieta spent years on Major League Baseball before he figured it out, and when he was 22 years old he was pitching for the Frederick Keys of the Carolina League (A+ ball).

So if you're worried about Severino... don't be. This isn't a case of injury, either. His average fastball last season was 95.2 mph, and this season that number is 95.6. His cutter averaged 91.2 mph in 2015, and this season it's at 91. His slider and changeup are also right in line with what he did last season, too.

In fact, while looking at his Fangraphs page, something caught my eye. Batters are making contact with a ton more pitches outside the strike zone. Last season batters made contact with 59.6% of pitches outside the K zone, and this season that number is all the way up to 70.6%. And that's really the only number truly outside the norm.

Therefore, the only problem that Luis may be having this season is that his non-strikes are too good. If he's going to throw a ball off the plate, which pitchers have to do every now and then, then he has to make the pitch a little less hittable. 

This is great news, because if the problem was that batters were hitting more strikes, that could mean that even his "good" pitches have become more hittable. It looks as though he can keep on throwing his stuff, and not have to worry that batters have already caught up to him. 

Fixing the issue could be as simple as Brian McCann simply giving his target a little further off the plate. 

I shouldn't say this as if that's the only thing hurting him right now. Batters are squaring up the ball more than last season, as he's giving up more hard-hit balls (opponent's Line Drive percentage this season is 33.8%, compared to 20% in 2015). But I believe that is a case of Luis just not hitting his spots. Actually, it's not so much as missing his spots, but missing big. Which is something I'm not terribly concerned about, as we're talking about a 22 year old kid.

So Yankees fans have nothing to worry about. At least not yet.

The Kids Are Alright, But What If Alex Rodriguez Isn’t?

The New York Yankees have a history of downplaying injuries and when they have to they have been known to downright lie about them. That’s common knowledge these days with the fans and around the league so excuse me if I’m not jumping for joy because Aaron Hicks will miss “five or six games” and because Alex Rodriguez’s MRI on his oblique muscle came back “negative.” The New York Yankees are a team built on flexibility, durability and depth and the team is only getting two out of the three at this point in the season. The flexibility is still there with Dustin Ackley, Starlin Castro and others but does the team have the depth to survive such a catastrophe?

In a word, yes, but that’s only if the team has the guts to do it. The team has already announced, according to the New York Post anyway, that Aaron Judge would not be coming up whether Hicks and Rodriguez are seriously injured or not leaving a few less-than-desirable options. Nick Swisher likely leads the charge while Ben Gamel and Slade Heathcott top the list of candidates for the outfield position that are already on the 40 man roster. Mason Williams is still injured and players like Tyler Austin and Jake Cave seem like long shots in the organization right now.

New York could bring up a first baseman or an outfielder, or both really, if either of the injuries are deemed to be too serious. Mark Teixeira and Carlos Beltran are both DH candidates if Rodriguez cannot go for an extended period of time while the thought of Gary Sanchez taking at bats away from either from the right side intrigues me. That idea doesn’t likely intrigue the Yankees, especially after a sluggish start in spring training, but he’s on the 40 man roster and it’s an idea nonetheless.

The Yankees have plenty of bodies that can take the place of Hicks and Rodriguez and the good news for those bodies is that they don’t have much to live up to offensively at this moment. Sanchez, Heathcott or even Swisher could likely give the Yankees a jolt in the arm and in the lineup considering that if you add their batting averages together they are still looking like Stephen Drew but I don’t feel like either are sustainable replacements.

Aaron Judge is a sustainable replacement and the Yankees won’t call him up as the frustration amongst fans with the handling of the farm system continues. If they want to spend like the Tampa Bay Rays, and let’s remember before comparing payrolls that a ton of this money is still by the hands of George Steinbrenner and not Hal Steinbrenner, then act like the Rays. Think the Rays would hesitate to bring up a guy like Judge? Because I don’t. 

Weekly Check In: Gary Sanchez

The New York Yankees lost both Aaron Hicks and Alex Rodriguez for parts of this week due to injury but rather than make a roster move and fill in the bench the team decided to play with a two man bench and 23 man roster. Whether that was a good decision or not remains to be seen, although if your pitchers take no-hitters into the 7th inning like Nathan Eovaldi did on Monday then you could have no bench and still win a ton of games, but I know one man that was hoping for a roster move and a call up, his name is Gary Sanchez. We all know what Sanchez brings to the table, a right-handed bat with pop that could be what Alex Rodriguez was supposed to be through the first month of the season but has not been.

So why hasn’t he been called up? Are the Yankees trying to delay his free agency and arbitration clocks by a year to save a few bucks? Is Sanchez just not ready despite a strong month in Triple-A at the end of last season and an even stronger Arizona Fall League? Or are the Yankees simply that clueless? I don’t have any of those answers for you unfortunately but I do know his stats look much better now than they did in spring, and that’s encouraging.


This Day In New York Yankees History 4/27: Steinbrenner Sucks!

On this day in 1982 after Reggie Jackson left the New York Yankees via free agency for the California Angels he came back to Yankee Stadium and promptly hit a home run in a 3-1 Angels victory. The crowd was none to PLEASED and chants of "Steinbrenner Sucks" erupted while Jackson rounded the bases. FYI, George Steinbrenner the Yankees owner was in attendance in his press box on that day.
On this day in 1947 a crowd of 58,000 attended Babe Ruth Day at Yankee Stadium to honor the Yankees legend. The crowd was treated to an old fashioned pitchers duel when the Washington Senators Sid Hudson beat the Yankees Spud Chandler 1-0.