Saturday, May 21, 2016

Tanaka, Yanks Win Four Straight, 5-1

      On a beautiful day in the not so beautiful Park, The Yankees looked for their fourth Street victory as they squared off against the Athletics in the third game of the four game series. Taking the ball for New York with a career 2-0 record against the A's was Masahiro Tanaka. Overall, Tanaka has pitched well this season for New York, with an ERA of 3.51, but an unlucky 1-0 record. For Oakland, rookie left-handed pitcher Shawn Manaea and his ballooned 6.85 ERA received the task of ending the Yankees winning streak this afternoon. According to YES Network's Ken Singleton, the ball travels much better during the day in Oakland, and although the starters did a good job of keeping the bat silent early, Kenny's ballpark assessment prove to be spot on.
      Both starters were perfect in the first inning, and in fact, Manaea was perfect through the first three frames. It wasn't until the top of the fourth that Manaea started to struggle. After walking Elsbury on four straight pitches, Manaea allowed his first hit of the afternoon, a Starlin Castro single that put two runners on with no outs. Teixeira followed with another walk that loaded the bases for last night's MVP Carlos Beltran. Hitting .321 in his last five games, the red-hot Beltran ripped a single off of the shortstop Marcus Simeon's glove that scored Elsbury, leaving the bases loaded and giving the Yankees a 1-0 lead. Aaron Hicks followed with a one-out sacrifice fly to left, 2-0 New York. Then, highly touted prospect Rob Refsnyder laced a clutch two-out double into centerfield that scored both Teixeira and Beltran, breaking the game open to 4-0 Yanks.
     Tanaka found himself in a bit of trouble in the bottom of the fifth inning. He led off the frame by walking catcher Matt McBride and followed that by serving up a single to Max Muncy. After getting Coco Crisp to ground into a force at second, Tanaka walked Billy Burns to load the bases. Danny Valencia followed with a sacrifice fly to center that scored McBride and put the A's on the board, 4-1. Tanaka would escape any further damage when he ended the inning by striking out the clean-up hitter Khris Davis.
     The Yanks would chase the starter Manaea from the game in the top of the seventh inning. Ronald Torreyes got it going when he reached base on a one-out single. Starlin Castro collected his third hit of the game when he smoked a two-out double to left that scored Torreyes and ended Manaea's afternoon. The rookie left with a final line of 6.2 IP, 6 H, 5 ER, 2 BB and 4 K's.
     Masahiro Tanaka was again stellar today as he lead the Yankees to their fourth consecutive victory. He had to love the run-support he received, leaving it up to the strong bullpen while sporting a sweet final line of 7 IP, 5 H, 1 ER, 2 BB and 4 K's. Nick Goody would get the final six outs of the game as the Yankees kept their string of quality starts and clutch hitting rolling. It's the first time since last September that New York has exceeded a win streak of more than three games. New York looks to finish off the four-game sweep of Oakland, with first pitch scheduled for 4:05 PM ET.

State of the Yankees System Before the 2016 Draft

The MLB Draft comes around just once a year and every team looks to improve their team not only in the near future but the far future as well. Depending on the makeup of your farm system some teams will draft polished college players that need little to no development while some teams would rather take the chance to draft a High School pitcher to develop them their own way. What will the Yankees do with this draft and what positions do the team specifically need to focus on during the 2016 MLB First Year Players Draft?

Every team needs pitching and every team takes an absolute ton of pitching in the draft. We can ignore that because of this fact but for the first time the Yankees actually need some depth at the catcher position. Luis Torrens is yet to play this season after shoulder surgery last season and John Ryan Murphy is gone leaving New York with Austin Romine in the Major Leagues and Gary Sanchez knocking on the door. Torrens is far from a bust of a prospect but it wouldn't be the worst idea to get some more high-end talent behind the plate coming through the system. Donny Sands was recently converted from third base to the catching position but is considered to be extremely raw at the position and a long, long way away. It wouldn't surprise me to see the Yankees take three or more catchers in this year's draft.

The Yankees are pretty thin at the second base position aside from Thairo Estrada and Robert Refsnyder but I'm not concerned. Jorge Mateo is being moved to second base and the Yankees have so many shortstops they almost have to move a few of them to second base just to get them all enough playing time. A shortstop can convert to second base pretty easily since the throw to second base is shorter and the defensive mechanics and footwork is generally the same but the same cannot be said for the third base position. After New York traded Eric Jagielo, Rob Segedin and others this winter the team is extremely thin at third base which is only compounded by the fact that Chase Headley struggled for much of the season.

The final piece the Yankees will likely go after this June is the outfield, specifically the corner outfield position. They have Aaron Judge who looks destined to be the right fielder of the future but aside from him the organization seems littered with speedy and soft-hitting center fielder types like Ben Gamel and Slade Heathcott. Sure those guys are nice to have but the corner outfield position is a tradition source of power and the Yankees need that in the worst way.

Game Thread: New York Yankees @ Oakland Athletics 5/21

The New York Yankees and the Oakland Athletics will face off this afternoon in the third game of a four game set between the two clubs this weekend. Once again we're set to be entertained by another strong pitching matchup that includes the Yankees present and ace Masahiro Tanaka facing off with the Athletics recent draftee and future Sean Manaea. The game will be played at 4:05 pm ET inside the Oakland County Coliseum and can be seen on the YES Network and MLB TV.

The Yankees are just two games away including today's contest from coming back home to the Bronx and Yankee Stadium to play host to their AL East rival Toronto Blue Jays. To see any of those games live click the Yankees Tickets link at the top of the blog to visit our friends at Ticket Monster who wont tack on fees or shipping costs onto any of their ticket sales. Until then follow along on Twitter with the crew over here at TGP by giving @GreedyStripes a follow. I know we've been quiet as of late but these west coast games really get to the working man. You have my apologies.

Now let's get to it and let's win another game this series. Go Yankees!

Buster Olney Suggests Trade Involving Brian McCann

The best thing that ever happened to Major League Baseball viewing in my opinion was the inception of MLB Network. I may be overreacting a bit as I pull the "poor pitiful me" routine but for a long time it seemed like ESPN was pretty anti-Yankee and it was getting to me more and more blatant and more and more obvious. I stopped watching for the most part but I continued to read some of their analysts including Buster Olney who made a mock trade proposal on Baseball Tonight that I really, really like. Olney suggested that if the Yankees deem themselves out of it in 2016 that they should call the Texas Rangers, who need lots of help at the catching position, and offer their catcher Brian McCann for a Rangers top prospect.

Olney suggested the Yankees call Texas and offer McCann and his two-plus years of team control for Joey Gallo, the Rangers top prospect and third base prospect. While the Rangers would be unlikely, well no it isn't going to happen, to trade Gallo at all let alone for a catcher on the wrong side of 30-years old it is worth the call to see if that could be the beginning of a deal.

Now the Yankees fans in general would never accept a fire sale but if a fire sale brought back a top and recognizable name like Gallo then you have to make the deal. Gallo's left-handed swing and power already reminds many of Baltimore's Chris Davis and would be an enormous upgrade over Chase Headley who currently mans the hot corner. This also allows the team to bring Gary Sanchez up and allows them to give him the baptism of fire as the every day starter with Austin Romine as the backup.

Would the Rangers do a straight up deal? Lord no. Would the Yankees? Hell yes. But could these two teams add a little here and take a little there (the Yankees throw in someone else and agree to pay some of McCann's salary down for instance) to make a deal work? I think so, yes. Make it happen.

Game Preview: New York Yankees @ Oakland Athletics 5/21

This is more like it, an afternoon game while the New York Yankees are on the west coast. This time the Yankees will face off with the Oakland Athletics inside the Oakland County Coliseum with the sun on their backs and with their east coast fans rooting them on live. On the mound for the Yankees will be their ace and stopper Masahiro Tanaka while the Athletics will counter with their own future in Sean Manaea.

Tanaka had been easily the best Yankees pitcher for much of the 2016 season but his last couple of starts have been shaky as best. In his first six starts of the season Tanaka had allowed two earned runs or less in each of the starts before surrendering a combined 10 earned runs in his last two starts. No good Tanaka. 

Manaea received his first MLB win in his last start and will be looking for his second MLB win this afternoon in Oakland. In the start Manaea threw 6.2 innings allowing just one run after slightly altering his mechanics. Manaea was absolutely bombed in his MLB debut so nobody knows which Manaea will show up this afternoon against the Yankees.

The game will be played at 4:05 pm ET inside the Oakland County Coliseum and can be seen on the YES Network and MLB TV. Tanaka hasn't looked as sharp as he had earlier in the season and Manaea hasn't taken the league by storm like the A's would have hoped with his call up leaving the fans wondering what will happen this afternoon in Oakland. That's the great thing about baseball though is that you never know what's going to happen from day to day leaving you obligated to watch, and watch I will. Go Yankees!

MLB Wants To Make Two Rules Changes

During the owners' meetings, a competition committee agreed to a couple of adjustments to MLB rules.

The first change would be to the strike zone. The current strike zone calls for a strike to be called at the bottom of a hitter's kneecap, however the new rule would make it a strike at the top of a hitter's kneecap.

This change isn't exciting or life changing, but it certainly doesn't come without reason.

In 2015, on average, batters struck out 20.4% of the time. However, ten years ago, batters struck out 16.4% of the time. Furthermore, in 2015 20,647 were scored, while in 2005 a total of 22,326 runs were scored. So offense is definitely gone down in the league.

The second change would make it so pitchers would no longer have to throw four balls to intentionally walk a batter. The team could simply signal its intention to walk a batter.

I'm sure many will point out plays such as this...

But let's be honest... how often does something like that happen? More often than not, an intentional walk  is the most boring thing that happens in a baseball game. You're just sitting there waiting for those four uneventful pitches before finally getting on with the game.

So while I don't believe either rule change is earth shattering, they are improvements.

NOTE: That while the competition committee has approved these rule changes, they will not be implemented until the rules committee does the same. Also, while rules changes do not need to be approved by them to be implemented, the MLB Players' Association and umpires' union will also get to review the proposed changes before they go into affect.

So Tim Lincecum Wasn't Worth $2.5 Million

You know I haven't ranted and raved in a while and while I know you guys get tired of the doom and gloom, the ranting and the talk about management letting the fans down and such but when the team gives me something else to talk about I'll happily take the lead. This winter I vouched for signing Tim Lincecum for much of the offseason and pleaded, hell I almost begged, for the Yankees to watch the former San Francisco Giants right-hander pitch but once again my pleas fell on deaf ears while the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim swooped him up for the low, low price of just $2.5 million. Too rich for Hal's blood I guess.

I think the thing that irked me the most is that the team didn't even watch him throw. Let's ignore the fact that CC Sabathia has already been on the disabled list once this season and let's ignore the fact that Michael Pineda and Luis Severino couldn't get out a Little League World Series team right now consistently and instead focus on some common sense. There is no such thing as too much pitching. That's the best problem to have. Let's also ignore the fact that the Yankees used this philosophy not so long ago under their former owner George Steinbrenner. All it costs was a plane ticket to watch him throw, that's it.

So long story short the Angels swooped in and signed Lincecum to a Major League deal worth $2.5 million. At the time of this writing the deal was agreed upon in principal and Lincecum had just passed his physical after degenerative hip surgery last September so the specifics have not been released. You have to figure that there will be a ton of incentives written into this contract leaving me to wonder what the Yankees had to lose here?

A plane ticket? $2.5 million plus incentives? Or their 2016 season? That is yet to be determined.

Weekly Prospects Check In: Robert Refsnyder

The New York Yankees farm system is one big walking wounded group of players this season isn't it? It doesn't seem to be that much different than the Major League Yankees unfortunately and it has left us scrambling a bit in these check in posts. This Saturday morning post has been reserved for Yankees infielder Robert Refsnyder, and it will be today as well, but with a bit of an extended look in the majors for Refsnyder this week we may be finding ourselves looking for another option very soon. Nothing would make me happier.

So for this Saturday morning you get a two-for-one special. You get a preview of what the Yankees could be seeing in the Major Leagues if they would actually use him as well as his minor league stats to date before the call up.


Gray is 50 Shades of Wrong In Yanks 8-3 Thrashing ofOakland

     Hoping to pitch well in his hometown, the Mission Viejo native C.C. Sabathia lead the New York Yankees to their second straight victory tonight over the struggling Sonny Gray and the Oakland Athletics. Sabathia hoped to build off of his last outing, where he pitched his best game of the year, a win against the rival Orioles.  Despite winning 14 games last season, Sonny Gray has really struggled this season, to the tune of a 3-4 record, with an ERA of 5.84, and an even more alarming ERA over 10 in his last four starts. Gray's sub-par 2016 would continue tonight as he and a variety of Oakland miscues led to the Yankees 10th victory in their last 15 games.
     Oakland actually hit the scoreboard first tonight in the bottom of the second inning when Matt McBride lined a two out single that drove in Billy Butler, who had walked earlier in the frame. But, The Bombers would counter quickly as their bats really came to life against Gray, Who had thrown 70 pitches by the end of the third. In the top of the fourth, Gray allowed a one-out walk to Aaron Hicks that was followed by a single off the bat of Didi Gregorius. Utility man Ronald Torreyes tripled both runners in when he lined a ball to center field that was misread by Coco Crisp, in what was the first of several miscues by the Oakland Athletics. After Elsbury reached first on a catchers interference call, Gray threw A wild pitch to Brett Gardner that got by the catcher Stephen Vogt, scoring Torreyes from third, 3-1, and moved Jacoby up to second base. Then, after walking Gardner, Grey threw another pitch in the dirt that advanced Elsbury to third. Beltran would send Gray to the showers when he ripped Gray's 100th pitch of the game that was again misread and over the head of Crisp, scoring both Ellsbury and Gardner, 5-1 New York.
    Sabathia was phenomenal in his return off the DL and in front of a multitude of friends and family tonight. He would go on to allow only the one run in six innings of work, giving up just three hits while striking out a season-high eight batters. Needing a night to rest the back end of the bullpen, The Yankee offense gave their former ace plenty of runs to work with, allowing the three headed monster to get some much needed rest. In fact, the big left-hander is134-6 in his career when receiving six or more runs from his offense.
     The Yankee on slot would continue against the worst bullpen in the majors. In the top of the sixth, Ryan Dull allowed a leadoff single to Brett Gardner, who scored the Yankees sixth run of the game when Carlos Beltran struck for his second RBI-double of the night. Oakland, too, would score off of the Yankees bullpen as they tried to embark on a come back that was not to be. In the bottom of the seventh, Kirby Yates served up a two-out double to Coco crisp that scored Tyler Ladendirf from first base, 6-2, New York. The Yankees would get that run back in the top of the ninth when Jacoby Ellsbury hit his third triple of the season, scoring Torreyes and Gregorius, making it an 8-2 game. The A's would add one more in the bottom of the ninth, leading to a final score of 8-3.
     The Yankees had big nights on both sides of the ball, getting their third consecutive quality outing from there starting pitcher and recording 13 hits tonight, making them 12-1 this season when they record 10 or more base hits. Let's hope we see more of the same from both the offense and from Masahiro Tanaka tomorrow as they go for their fourth consecutive victory, with first pitch scheduled for 4:05 PM ET.

This Day in New York Yankees History 5/21: A Rod Returns to Arlington for First Time

On this day in 2004 the Texas Rangers fans let former All Star Alex Rodriguez know what they felt about him during his first return to Arlington Park. The fans booed heavily before, and especially after, when A Rod hit a home run in his first inning at bat.

Also on this day in 1947 Joe DiMaggio and five other Yankees players are slapped with fines from the club for not fulfilling contract requirements. The $100 fine would come due to the lack of promotional duties for the team by the players. Alex Rodriguez used a $100 bill to light his pilot light last night in his furnace.