Wednesday, August 17, 2016

Praying for Bob Watson Open Thread

The Yankees game is over and the team is off tomorrow so I leave you with this open thread for the night. As bad as I feel about leaving the night on a somber note I feel like it has to be said because Bob Watson, former Yankees GM and the man that some call the architect along with Gene Michael for the 1996 World Series and subsequent Yankees dynasty to follow, is battling for his life and he needs our thoughts and prayers. Watson, who was hired in October of 1995 to be the GM under George Steinbrenner, is battling kidney failure.

Watson wanted to be at Yankee Stadium while the organization celebrated the 1996 World Series but his health would not allow it. Watson is in Stage 4 of his kidney failure and doctors give him a couple years to live, tops.

Our thoughts and prayers go out to Watson and his family in this tough time. Keep fighting Bob!

USA Today’s Weekly MLB Power Rankings

The New York Yankees can trade away any amount of talent that they want before any trading deadline they want but as long as they are replacing this talent with players like Adam Warren, Aaron Judge and Tyler Austin they can keep the good times rolling. By good times rolling I mean winning and that has been all the Yankees have known to do here lately yet you couldn’t tell it by checking out the weekly power rankings provided by the USA Today.

The USA Today has remained stagnant with the Yankees only seemingly waiting on them to fail so they can drop them down, typical ESPN bias if you ask me but that’s only if you ask me, but this week the team forced the hands of the crew over there who actually had the Yankees climb a spot from the 18th position to the 17th position. That will do for now I guess. Meanwhile the rest of the American League East is doing well in these rankings with the Toronto Blue Jays coming in 5th, the Baltimore Orioles coming in seventh while being the biggest fall of the week dropping from the #4 position, the Red Sox were 9th overall and the Tampa Bay Rays brought up the rear at the 26th position overall.

The Top Five teams in the league according to the rankings are the Chicago Cubs, the Washington Nationals, the Cleveland Indians, the Texas Rangers and the Toronto Blue Jays while the five worst teams according to those same rankings are the #26 Tampa Bay Rays, the #27 Cincinnati Reds, the #28 Minnesota Twins, the #29 Arizona Diamondbacks and the #30 Atlanta Braves.

The biggest risers aren’t rising as much as they had been in previous rankings and the biggest falls haven’t fallen all that far from grace lately as we see a true sample size start to hit the league. Teams will have streaky weeks and months, both good and bad, but these rankings are pretty much what they say they are. The teams in the top half of the rankings are either destined for the postseason or just on the outside looking in while the teams in the bottom half are either fighting for their playoff lives or are thinking about next year and the year beyond already. If you want to see what chances your team has check out these rankings, they can tell you a lot about what’s about to happen here in the league. Enjoy. 

Yanks Fall to Jays, 7-4, Lose Crucial Series

Once again, the Yankees were unable to get the job done as they fell to the rival Blue Jays in the rubber game of the three-game set. Getting the call and suffering the loss for New York today was C.C. Sabathia. The big lefty drops to 7-10 on the season in a game that he really didn't lose, as he struck out a season-high 12 batters, but fell victim to some shotty defense and another couple of big innings for the high-powered Toronto offense. One of the best pitchers in all of baseball, J.A. Happ improved to 17-3 with his roller coaster of a performance on a beautiful afternoon in the Bronx.

Both starters had a perfect first, but it was the top of the second that saw the first runs of the game touch home plate. Troy Tulowitzki started the scoring rally with a single to beat the shift, followed by a Melvin Upton Jr. walk. Ezekiel Carrera then ripped a double over the head of Brett Gardner, scoring Tulowitzki to put the Blue Jays up 1-0. Then, the light-hitting backup utility infielder Darwin Barney collected a double of his own, this of the ground ball variety to left that scored both Upton Jr. and Carrera to extend the Toronto lead to three.

Like they have done throughout this recent homestand, the Yankees used the longball to get back into the game against Happ and the Jays. Gary Sanchez continued to stay hot as the newest four-hole hitter in the lineup launched his third homerun in the last 1.1 games. a solo shot to lead off the bottom of the second to make it a 3-1 ballgame. And then in the bottom of the fourth, Starlin Castro took a Happ fastball down the left-field line and just over the fence for his career high 15th blast of the season to inch the Yanks closer at 3-2.

However, the Jays continue to pour it on, using the Yankees poor defense against themselves in the top of the fifth. Josh Donaldson reached base on a fielding error by Gregorius and advanced to third when Chase Headley was unable to complete an inning ending double-play, tossing the ball over first baseman Tyler Austin's head. The next batter Russell Martin then laced a single into right that scored Donaldson and put the Birds back up by two. Melvin Upton Jr. capped off the monster inning when he hit his first homerun as a Blue Jay, an opposite field blast to right that opened the game up to a 7-2 score.

Chase Headley got one of those runs back in the bottom of the sixth, belting another solo shot off the facing of the upper deck in left to make it a 7-3 game.

The Bombers did knock Happ out of the game in the bottom of the eighth as they attempted to come back on their division rivals. Chase Headley hit a one out single to short, which prompted manager Jon Gibbons to pull Happ for Joaquin Benoit. The veteran righty then allowed back to back singles to Gary Sanchez and Aaron Judge, with the latter scoring Headley and moving the Yankees back to within three.

Outside of the three solo shots, J.A. Happ held the Yankees to just seven total hits in 7.1 innings of work. The other four hits were all singles and Happ also struck out nine as he recorded his 17th victory of the season. And this is why that loss was so important last night, because the Yankees had that game won before the rain delay, which would have led to a crucial series win.  They cannot continue to drop games/series against teams that are above them in both playoff races if they expect to play baseball in October.

The Pinstripers head to the airport after the game, embarking on a west coast road trip that begins with a three-game series against the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim, with first pitch scheduled for Friday at 10:05 PM/EST.

Game Thread: New York Yankees vs. Toronto Blue Jays 8/17

Here we go ladies and gentleman, one last time in the Bronx this week between the New York Yankees and the Toronto Blue Jays. In the finale of this three game set we will all be treated to a getaway game with another potentially great pitching matchup that includes CC Sabathia taking the rubber for the Yankees while Toronto counters with JA Happ. Watch your left-handed batters Joe Girardi because Happ has a history of hitting and hurting left-handed Yankees in years past. Surely not on purpose but still, history is history. Anyway the game will be played at 1:05 pm ET inside Yankee Stadium and can be seen on the YES Network and MLB TV.

JA Happ vs. CC Sabathia in another day game I’m going to miss because of work. Why couldn’t I be rich instead of so damn good looking? I kid. Go Yankees! Follow along during the game and all season long by either liking us on Facebook or by giving our Twitter handle @GreedyStripes a follow. Thank you and enjoy the game!

If Miami Wants A-Rod Would They Want Teixeira Also?

One of only a few things could be going on right now when it comes to the whole Miami Marlins and Alex Rodriguez link that was reported on, and ultimately denied by the A-Rod camp since, earlier in the week. Either Miami is looking for a boost in their attendance, merchandise sales and television ratings and will sign anyone and everyone who brings that to them, they are that desperate for production after losing Justin Bour and Giancarlo Stanton or the entire thing is a fa├žade. Let’s pretend that the first option is true regardless and the last option is not true could the Miami Marlins really be that desperate for a first baseman? And if they are do you think they would take on the contract of Mark Teixeira in order to fill that spot?

That’s admittedly not an easy question to answer unfortunately because there are a lot of moving parts in this whole scenario. Mark Teixeira has 10-and-5 rights and a full no trade clause so no deal gets done without his approval and he has never seemingly acted like he wanted to leave New York in the past. Also there is the whole media storm of the Yankees trading away a player just weeks after he announced he would retire at the end of the season, unless of course you spin it and say that he asked for the trade to be closer to family, post-playing career assets, etc. Then there is the whole contract situation and whether Miami could afford to take on the salary unless New York offered to play a chunk or all of it to facilitate the trade.

Gary Sanchez is here and so is Tyler Austin so Teixeira may be willing to waive his NTC if he thinks, or is told… hint hint, that his playing time will be little-to-none for the remainder of the season a la Alex Rodriguez. Also if the Marlins take on all the remaining salary in the deal they can send back a lesser prospect or two in the deal which helps since they have a barren farm system by all accounts and reports. The biggest hang up seems to be simply saving face on any deal. Do the Yankees want to look like the big bad bullies forcing out their “legends” and stars for this youth movement or do they want to continue to let the past and their contracts dictate the playing time and who is on the roster? I’m hoping for the former and not the latter but honestly I just don’t know which way it is going to go.

I’m not saying I want this to happen nor am I saying I think it’s going to happen but what I am saying is it doesn’t hurt to talk to Mark, ask him what he wants and strong arm him if the front office, not myself necessarily, thinks it’s necessary. 

Game Preview: New York Yankees vs. Toronto Blue Jays 8/17

Before this series started I looked at the pitching probables and I thought the Yankees would either get swept or they would lose embarrassingly in at least two of the games. New York and their youth movement has come out firing on all cylinders once again against a tough team and will look to take another series from a team in front of them tonight in the Bronx. With the off day tomorrow and a west coast trip that begins in Los Angeles on Friday looming in the distance it is imperative that the Yankees take care of business today on their home field in front of their home fans. Donned with the task of putting Toronto back behind teams like Boston and Baltimore in the standings is New York’s starter for the game CC Sabathia. The arm donned with the task of keeping Toronto atop the AL East Division is JA Happ who starts this afternoon for the Blue Jays.

Sabathia had many believing he had finally learned how to pitch and not simply try to blow hitters away earlier in the season but the veteran left-hander has regressed a bit while coming back down to Earth since. The key to Sabathia’s success has been limiting his pitches and limiting his home runs, something he will try to do this afternoon in the Bronx.

Happ comes into this start fresh off his 16th victory of the season last time out at the hands of the Tampa Bay Rays. Happ became the league’s first 16-game winner by throwing six shutout innings against Tampa Bay while stretching his consecutive victories in decisions streak to 10.

The game will be played at 1:05 pm ET inside Yankee Stadium and can be seen on the YES Network and MLB TV. Like I alluded to earlier the Yankees are off tomorrow before making the trip out west to begin a weekend series with Mike Trout and the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim. At last check those Angels had lost double digit games in a row so you know what that means for this Yankees series right? They will probably sweep us. I’m hoping not but that’s usually how it goes for this team this season isn’t? Oh well, regardless I’ll still be sitting here screaming “Go Yankees!”

Weekly Prospects Check In: Justus Sheffield

The Yankees are flush with positional prospects in their farm system and at the top of the many prospects lists that are floating around the internet but the team is seemingly thin as far as starting pitching prospects go. You have Domingo Acevedo and you have James Kaprielian, although both are injured currently as Kaprielian’s season is likely done after injuring his elbow and Acevedo battled a lower back injury, but it may be Justus Sheffield that leads the pack now. He had an amazing debut as a Yankee and has built off that strong start to seriously open the eyes of a lot of fans and members of the Yankees organization.

As Sheffield continues his Yankees career and tenure down in Tampa let’s take a look at what he has done this season with the Tampa Yankees and with the Cleveland Indians before the trade: 


Trading Brian McCann Without Hurting Gary Sanchez

There has been some backlash to the idea of trading Brian McCann, and at one point I joined them. The reason for doing so stemmed from my belief that catchers are perhaps the most intelligent and well-informed players on the field.

A catcher has to learn the tendencies of his pitching staff, so that he knows what pitches his pitcher likes to throw in certain situations. He also needs to learn about opposing hitters, and what pitches they're good at hitting and in what situations.

But it doesn't end there...

Catchers also need to be aware of what's going on throughout the game, as they sometimes have to call plays. Most notably when there are runners on first and third.

Having a good rapport with pitchers can help a ton, as there are times a pitcher needs to be talked to. Whether that be because a certain hitter is coming up, and they need to discuss strategy to get him out. Or perhaps the pitcher is struggling, and the catcher either needs to give that pitcher a break or communicate a possible reason for the struggling.

It's safe to say that a catcher's value goes way beyond the numbers on the back of their baseball cards. Heck, I didn't even mention pitch-framing, which is something Brian McCann is known to be very good at.

"Are you questioning how much I make? Really?"

As good as Gary Sanchez has looked at the plate, to go along with much praise on how he's improved defensively behind the plate, he can learn a ton from Brian McCann over the last two years of McCann's contract (assuming the Yankees don't exercise their team option for Brian in 2019).

But how do you play both of them?

Do you simply let them alternate days as the team's designated hitter and catcher? Although, it's not as though the team couldn't use the DH spot to give at bats to others. For example, Greg Bird could DH every so often while Austin Romine played a game at first base. Or Aaron Judge could get a half day off and DH while Tyler Austin starts in right field. Not to mention that Brett Gardner or Jacoby Ellsbury are no longer young, so they could use a DH-day, too.

I suppose Brian McCann could start at first base every once in a while. He has appeared at 1B in 29 games since coming to New York a couple of years ago. Although McCann has made it clear he's not comfortable over there. Plus, the Yankees have Greg Bird and others that could get time at first base, like the aforementioned Tyler Austin or Rob Refsnyder.

Like with trading so many other players, it all comes down to what the Yankees can get in return. You don't want to give away Brian McCann for next to nothing. This is not a "money dump" situation. If somebody such as the Atlanta Braves offer a couple of good to great prospects, then go ahead and do it. But the return has to be something the Yankees can use, if not right away at least sometime down the road, at the MLB level.

That's not to say I expect the Yankees to get another prospect the level of Clint Frazier or Gleyber Torres. But I'm not talking about a player(s) to be named later, either.

One last thing to keep in mind...

While McCann has all those things I mentioned earlier to offer Gary Sanchez, Brian isn't the only person around the Yankee clubhouse that could do that. There is another person that had a long catching career, saw things from both the American League and National League side of things, and has mentored another catcher before he had a great career...

I know that Joe Girardi has a lot on his plate as the team's manager, so he may not have a lot of time to offer Gary Sanchez as a mentor. But Sanchez won't be on his own when it comes to learning how to catch in Major League Baseball.

And Girardi's not the only guy on the coaching staff with plenty of MLB catching experience...

Current Yankees' First Base coach, Tony Pena, spent 18 years as a catcher in MLB. Seven plus years of that was spent in the American League. And you can't say Pena wasn't any good as a catcher, as he was a five time All Star and four time recipient of the Gold Glove Award.

So I don't think trading McCann would necessarily hurt the development of Gary Sanchez. Not that Brian's presence wouldn't be a good thing for Gary, but there are others around that can help. The main thing for the Yankees, should they deal away McCann, is to get something good in return. Perhaps some pitching help, now that Nathan Eovaldi's days in pinstripes may be over.

This Day In New York Yankees History 8/17: Sori Goes 30/30

For the better part of a decade Alfonso Soriano was one of the premier hitters, stolen base threats, and home run hitters in all of Major League Baseball. Soriano entered the 30 home run and 30 stolen base club on this day in 2002 after hitting a home run in the seventh inning of the Seattle Mariners James Baldwin. Soriano was the first ever second baseman to join the 30/30 club joining Bobby Bonds as the only other Yankee to accomplish the feat. Bonds went 30/30 in 1975.

Also on this day in 1948 Tommy Henrich hits his fourth grand slam of the season tying one of Babe Ruth's major league records. This came just a day after the great Babe Ruth passed away. This came after an estimated 100,000 fans passed the body of the Bambino at Yankee Stadium while showing their respect for the great.

Finally on this day in 1933 Lou Gehrig quietly passed Everett Scott for the most consecutive games played by playing in his 1,309th consecutive game. Gehrig would end up playing in 2,130 consecutive games before benching himself and ending the iron man streak.

Also on this day in 2015 CC Sabathia had to be restrained from a Toronto street fight outside a club and Bryan Mitchell took a fastball to the face. Yeah I didn't want to remember those either. Sorry.