Monday, September 19, 2016

The Final Off Day Open Thread of 2016

Here we go, the last off day of the regular season before that long stretch of time where it's colder than I'd like it to be, darker earlier than I'd like it to be and that long stretch of time where baseball takes a back-burner to sports like the NFL and the NBA. The offseason sucks without the Yankees being in the postseason but that just may be a reality in 2016 unfortunately. Many aren't surprised, or will say they aren't anyway, but truth be told I predicted the Yankees winning the 2nd Wild Card this season. Insert egg on face.

But we will worry about that when the math says the Yankees are eliminated from postseason play, tonight we rest. With that said I leave you with this open thread for the evening, the last Yankees off day open thread of the 2016 season. Have a great evening.

Most Popular Article of the Week: Lourdes Gourriel Held September Showcase for MLB Teams

The latest “next big thing” to come out of Cuba is Lourdes Gourriel and after being declared a free agent by Major League Baseball recently he is ready to take the next step towards his professional career in the United States. Gourriel held a showcase for Major League teams yesterday in Panama City and Lourdes, the younger brother of Houston Astros prospect Yulieski Gourriel, reportedly put on a show. Were the Yankees watching?

I can remember when it was announced that these two fled their native country for a career in the United States that many believed it was Lourdes and not Yulieski that was the ultimate prize. Yulieski was a little bit older but he has been seen absolutely tearing the cover off the ball for the Astros since Houston promoted him in August. If Yulieski is this good, Lourdes should be better. I think so anyway, do the Yankees?

The Yankees are working towards a youth movement and the 2017 season and beyond and Lourdes fits that mold much better than Yulieski would have. Lourdes is expected to wait until October to sign so he will not be subject to MLB’s international free agency signing rules and restrictions for amateur players which also fits into the mold of what the Yankees are currently doing. See the Yankees are still on a signing restriction from their international haul from a few years back and cannot sign an amateur free agent for more than $300K if they fall under the IFA criteria, once Lourdes has a birthday in October he will no longer be subject to those rules and will be treated as a true free agent.

Lourdes is 10-years younger than his brother Yulieski and all signs point to him being a cheaper sign than the $47.5 million the Astros gave to his older brother earlier this year. For these reasons and many more there is expected to be stiff competition for Lourdes and Jon Heyman of Today’s Knuckleball has even said as many as 20+ teams will be interested in his services once he decides to sign after his 23rd birthday.

Gourriel turns 23-years old on October 19, 2016 and then all hell breaks loose for his services. The Yankees have never been publicly linked to Gourriel but when the Yankees have an opportunity to add a young player with talent for just money they usually get their guy when they want him. Here’s to hoping they want Lourdes Gourriel. Don’t let this be another Yoan Moncada incident.

ICYMI: The Post That Damned the Yankees 2016 Season

This was written after a Yankees seven game winning streak. New York was riding high on the emotions of many victories and I had the team written into the postseason this year. Ever since then the team has struggled and I feel personally responsible. If so, I'm sorry.

Image result for the house that cashman rebuilt

The American League should be shaking in their boots right now because the New York Yankees are the train and the rest of the league are standing on the tracks right now. Now before I start this post I want to preface this with the fact that I do not believe the Yankees will win the World Series and sweep through everyone like they did in years like 1998 for example but what I will say is that New York may be the most dangerous team right now, the hottest team right now and the team who is best built for a one-game playoff game. Here’s why I think that.

The Yankees may have had a blessing in disguise when they decided to sell off pieces at the August 1st trade deadline because the youth has taken over in the Bronx. There are a few reasons why youth is important at this stage in the game for New York. First and foremost you would have to think that most veteran teams are starting to feel the wear and tear of a 162-game schedule and are starting to slow down or at the very least are starting to need a day off here or there. Do you think Gary Sanchez, Tyler Austin, Rob Refsnyder, Aaron Judge and crew need or necessarily want days off at this point? I don’t. You think Luis Severino is okay with pitching once a week? I don’t

Secondly I don’t believe the Yankees youth knows that they are supposed to be nervous and such right now. Many of the Yankees minor league affiliates have either played for or won a minor league championship in recent years and this playoff push is nothing new to this young core. They are used to winning, they were brought up to win and dammit when they need a win, they get a win. This team is too ignorant, and if you know the definition of the word you know I mean no malcontent when I say that, to be scared, nervous or worried about winning and losing. They are simply going out there and playing the game like it’s supposed to be played and they are doing damn good at it too.

The offense is back, Masahiro Tanaka hasn’t pitched this well since coming over from Japan, the bullpen is once again being pieced together and the team just simply refuses to lose. Joe Girardi has finally woken up and decided he wants to play the youth and the maybe the most exciting part of all this is that more reinforcements could be on the way. Triple-A’s Governors Cup will be handed out soon, the Double-A playoffs will soon be over and more talent could be on the way to the Bronx. You never know.

This may be one of the most dangerous teams heading into the postseason in 2016 assuming they make it, I truly believe that in my heart of hearts. The American League better do everything they can to keep this team out of October baseball because if they don’t they may end up fearing this team before it’s all said and done. Excitement has returned to the Bronx and it’s a hell of a feeling.

Would Justin Morneau Be in Play for 2017?

The New York Yankees are set to lose their starting first baseman since the 2009 season, Mark Teixeira, after the season due to retirement but thankfully for New York they have a Plan B. New York has seen rookie Greg Bird progress as a professional player and has seen him progress from his shoulder surgery enough to where he is heading to the Arizona Fall League to test his shoulder out. Do the Yankees have a Plan C though and is that Plan C Tyler Austin or would the team rather have him in the outfield? Those are hard questions to answer right now but the team may be able to make those questions easier to answer in 2017 if they signed a veteran on a minor league deal that can compete for a job next season. That veteran could be Justin Morneau.

We're only talking on a minor league deal here. He's 35-years old and will be 36-years old next year, he's been injured this season including his elbow surgery that delayed the start of his season and what he is calling "old man neck" that is currently keeping him out of the Chicago lineup, his production is down across the board and the Yankees are seemingly already "set" at the position. These reasons and more are reasons on the Yankees side that they would only consider a minor league deal with the former Minnesota Twins player and 2006 AL MVP but that's only if Morneau himself decided to keep going.

Maybe he is just slow to recover from the elbow surgery and that is to blame for him slow start this season? Maybe, but he isn't drawing walks either and his defense at first base has been borderline atrocious. Would Morneau sign a minor league deal? That's anyone's guess. He has said he would be willing to play in 2017 but he would only play for a contender. Have the Yankees done enough to put themselves into the "contender" category?

A whole lot of questions and not a lot of answers. If Morneau is willing to prove himself in Triple-A with the knowledge that he would be the first one on the Scranton Shuttle if an injury happened then sign him up now. If not, pass. It's as simple as that.

The Yankees Final Off Day of 2016

The New York Yankees are off today. The next time we get to say that, barring a historic run of course, the 2016 regular season will be over and 10 teams (or possibly more I guess) will be awaiting their fates in the 2016 postseason. I had the Yankees making the postseason this year before this disastrous series with the Boston Red Sox but that's baseball sometimes. I'm not giving up, I'm just extremely discouraged and I can't see it logistically happening.

So with this final off day of the regular season we have the final off day music recommendation of the season. This is the last one, that's a lot of pressure. Who do I choose? My favorite player? The flavor of the week? How about just the song I like the most?

So with that in mind I went with an old song but a song that I truly love, the song that plays when Tyler Clippard enters a game inside Yankee Stadium. "Ready or Not" by the Fugees. Enjoy!

Weekly Prospects Check In: Justus Sheffield

The Double-A Trenton Thunder's season is over after losing to Akron in the postseason. The pitcher on the mound in the do-or-die game for the Yankees affiliate? Justus Sheffield. He pitched well but ultimate Trenton finished with a 2-1 loss and now have a long offseason ahead of them. Damn.

Here is Sheffield's final stat line for the season, and what a stat line it is. Sheffield has given the Yankees another legitimate pitching prospect to drool over and I thank him for his efforts and his hard work this season since coming over from the Cleveland Indians.

Enjoy the offseason Justus, you've earned the rest.


This Day In New York Yankees History 9/19: Mariano Rivera Is The All Time Saves Leader

The New York Yankees built a new billion dollar stadium for the 2009 season and on this day in 2011 the Yankees saw their smallest crowd in the three year history of the stadium. Coincidentally this was also the day that the great Mariano Rivera became Major League Baseball’s all-time saves leader. The Yankees would beat the Minnesota Twins 6-4 on this day as Rivera nailed down his 602nd career save, breaking Trevor Hoffman’s record, retiring Trevor Plouffe, Michael Cuddyer, and Chris Parmelee in order.

Also on this day in 2001 Roger Clemens continued to dominate Major League Baseball and the Chicago White Sox in a 6-3 Yankees victory. Clemens would get the victory on the day to improve his record to 20-1 becoming the first pitcher to ever start a season 20-1. Clemens would win his last 16 decisions to reach the feat.

Yankees Swept Right Out of Fenway

The New York Yankees made every game from here on out a must win as they were swept by the Boston Red Sox tonight. Although C.C. Sabathia and Drew Pomeranz were the starters in this dual of lefties, once again, neither man would factor in to the game's final decision. Sabathia pitched pretty well, but made one major error that turn the game on its ear. As for Pomeranz, the lefty was knocked all around the ballpark and would not make it out of the fourth inning. But for a third straight game, the Yankees gave the lead back to their rivals, bailing another Red Sox starter out of a poor start.

New York jumped on Pomeranz early, scoring on the lefty in the top of the first. Brett Gardner started the night off with a line drive double down the right-field line. After a two-out Billy Butler walk, Didi Gregorius laced a single into right that scored Gardner and gave the Yankees a first inning one run lead.

Gary Sanchez put New York's second run of the game on the board when he launched his 16th homerun in 158 career at-bats, a third inning solo blast into the Monster seats to extend their lead to two.

The Yankees kept the offensive pressure on Pomeranz, knocking him out of the ball game in the top of the fourth. Recent call-up to be Castro's replacement at second base, Donovan Solano started off the frame with a single, advancing to third on a Mason Williams double. After a Rob Refsnyder walk loaded the bases with still no one out, Gardner grounded out to second to score Solano,3-0 Yankees. Ronald Torreyes followed suit with the same play, a ground out to third that scored Williams to make it a 4-0 ballgame. After the RBI ground out, Pomeranz was pulled from the game for right-handed reliever Heath Hembree.

Although Sabathia held The Red Sox scoreless through the first four frames, the big lefty made a critical error in the bottom of the fifth to let Boston back in the game. Back-up catcher Bryan Holaday started the inning with what was originally called a double, challenged as a homerun, reviewed and upheld as a fan-interference double. After a Xander Bogarts single advanced Holaday to third, Mookie Betts ripped a liner back to Sabathia for out number two. Sabathia then turned and soft-tossed a throw to first in attempts of doubling off Bogarts, but the feeble throw was too late and Butler dropped the catch. If he would've fired a strike to first, Bogarts would've been out and the inning would have been over. But, as it happened, this series' Yankee killer Hanley Ramirez blasted a three run homer into the seats atop the Green Monster to pull the Red Sox to within one.

Boston completed their comeback as they tied the game and knocked Sabathia out of the ball game in the bottom of the sixth. Travis Shaw started off the rally with an opposite field single to left, advancing to third on an Aaron Hill single. Jackie Bradley Jr. then knocked Sabathia out of the game with the Sox's third consecutive single, a line drive to right that scored Shaw and tied the game up at four apiece. Blake Parker  came on in relief of Sabathia and immediately struck out pinch-hitter David Ortiz, in what was thankfully the last time we will ever have to face Big Papi in Fenway Park. Parker went on to retire the next two batters to end the threat and the inning.

Hanley Ramirez absolutely killed the Yankees this week, dealing the final knockout punch in the bottom of the seventh. With one out, Tyler Clippard served up the second Homer of the night to Ramirez, a solo shot that put the Red Sox up for good by a 5-4 score. The longball capped off a monster of a series that saw the slugger go 9-16 over the four-game set.

And as was the case the last three games, once the Red Sox took The lead in the late stages of the game, the Yankee offense was shellshocked and were unable to score any more runs. The loss closes the book on a season-burying stretch for New York that saw them drop seven of their last eight games. Although they are not mathematically eliminated from postseason play, if and when they do get eliminated. they need only look back at this stretch to understand where their season went wrong; and they only have themselves to blame.

The Yankees have tomorrow off as they travel to Tampa to begin a three-game set with the Tampa Bay Rays, with first pitch scheduled for Tuesday at 7:05 PM/EST.