Wednesday, October 12, 2016

Yankees Postseason History Recap: Bucky F’in Dent

Before October 2nd, 1978 not many people probably knew what Bucky Dent’s middle name was. He was just a light-hitting infielder for the Yankees that was in there for his defense but by the end of the 163rd game of the 1978 season to decide whether the New York Yankees or the Boston Red Sox would go into the playoffs a whole country knew Dent’s middle name, even if it wasn’t his given name. On October 2nd, 1978 Bucky Dent became officially known as Bucky F’in Dent.

The American League East ended up as a tie in 1978 and a 163rd game was required to determine who would be heading to the postseason and who would be heading home for the winter. Entering the Top of the 7th inning in Fenway Park the Red Sox led 2-0 before Dent came up with two runners on. Dent stepped up and hit a go-ahead three-run home run over the Green Monster to give the Yankees the lead, the division and eventually another World Series title.

Dent hit 27 home runs as a Yankees player in six years but none were bigger than that one. I guarantee it. 

Vote for the Tampa Yankees in the 2016 MiLB Awards

It's time to vote for the 2016 MiLBYS postseason awards!
The Tampa Yankees are in three categories: 
Best Farm System: New York Yankees
Top Starting Pitcher: Chance Adams
Top Relief Pitcher: Jonathan Holder
Vote multiple times now through October 25th
Best Farm System
Top Starting Pitcher

Top Relief Pitcher

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RHP Jonathan Holder

MLB Trade Rumors Presents 2017 Arbitration Salary Predictions

The crew over at MLB Trade Rumors is at it again. Every year Matt Swartz and company predict the salary projections for every player eligible for arbitration and way more times than not they are right in the neighborhood when the actual numbers come down. I don’t know how they do it but by this time I’ve stopped asking why and merely appreciate the effort they put in every offseason. This season the Yankees have nine players who will be eligible for arbitration and while some could be non-tendered and others could agree to a deal before this becomes an issue here are the projected salaries as they stand today.

Michael Pineda - $7.8 million

Pineda made just $4.3 million in 2016 and after another up-and-down season MLB Trade Rumors is expecting a significant climb in salary before he hits free agency in 2018. This seems awfully high to me but again I’m not going to be the one to question it.

Nathan Eovaldi - $7.5 million

After a Tommy John surgery and another arm injury there is no way Eovaldi is wearing a Yankees uniform in 2017 at this salary. The Yankees could restructure his contract for two-years and hope he bounces back from the surgery or they could simply let him go, either way he isn’t making $7.5 million in 2017. No way.

Didi Gregorius - $5.1 million

This isn’t even a discussion. If Didi wants $5 million, give the man $5 million. Bottom line.

Dellin Betances - $3.4 million

See Didi Gregorius. He helped the team signing a league minimum contract last season and now it’s his time to get paid. Three straight All-Star games and off-the-wall strikeout numbers is a steal at $3.4 million.

Dustin Ackley - $3.2 million

This is exactly what Ackley made in 2016 and he didn’t have much time to earn the salary after a significant shoulder injury ended his season prematurely. I can see him being designated for assignment and then brought back on a minor league deal a la Slade Heathcott from a couple years ago.

Adam Warren - $2.3 million

Warren made just $1.7 million in 2016 and after a horrible start to his season while with Chicago his salary is not expected to jump too awful much. Warren is a steal even at $2.3 million so don’t hesitate to give this guy the money. He can start or relieve and he just has a knack of being able to pitch well for the Yankees. I can’t explain it.

Aaron Hicks - $1.4 million

Aaron Hicks sucks.

Tommy Layne - $1.2 million

The Yankees have paid much more for much less in terms of having a LOOGY in the bullpen so why not.

Austin Romine - $900K

Romine far exceeded any expectations I had for him in 2016 and at $900K, even if he’s a third catcher, is a bargain for New York. Sign him up. 

Bring Me Gerrit Cole!

There will be no indecisiveness here. I will not spend the next 2000 words telling you why the Yankees need a certain player only to tell you how it’s not going to happen at the end. This needs to happen and frankly I think it’s going to happen. The Pittsburgh Pirates are not going to extend ace starting pitcher Gerrit Cole and you know what that means generally with a small market team, it’s time to trade him now for something rather than getting nothing for him later. That’s where the Yankees and their new-found farm system come in. Bring me Gerrit Cole and bring me Gerrit Cole now.

The Yankees actually drafted Cole back in 2008 if you can remember and the right-hander refused to sign and instead went to UCLA for his college career. Three years later Cole fell into the Pirates lap and hasn’t looked back since as he has been a dominant force for the team since his call up in 2013. In 94 starts in the Major Leagues Cole already has 47 victories and a 3.23 ERA while placing fourth in the NL Cy Young Award voting in 2015. Cole won 19 games and struck out 202 batters in 2015 although 2016, like 2014, was limited by injury. Cole dealt with elbow inflammation in 2016 while also struggling with right shoulder fatigue and lat tightness in 2014 but nothing too serious like an elbow ligament tear or anything like that. Cole is a question mark with health but he’s young and sometimes it takes guys longer to put it all together and stay healthy, remember AJ Burnett?

For this reason, and I’m speculating here, along with the financial implications Pittsburgh has shown little interest in extending the UCLA product and the team may look to move him as he hits arbitration for the first time this winter. Cole is under team control through the arbitration process through the 2019 season so he would not come cheap but with the injuries, the fall out between the club and Cole over salary after that stellar 2015 season, and the Yankees new farm system I think a deal can be struck. And will be struck I may add.

Cole would give the Yankees arguably the best starting rotation in the American League and would make the team immediate favorites in the AL East race in 2017. Cole would add stability, youth and another arm capable of being an ace on any single night to a rotation that desperately needs a reliable arm. Cash just has to make the call and pull the trigger. Cole would come at a “discount” when you think of what it would take to acquire a Chris Sale or equivalent and this is one of those deals the Yankees almost HAVE to make if they are serious about contending in 2017. If not, let Cole go elsewhere and kick yourself for missing out on such an immense talent not once, but twice now. Your choice.

Good Riddance To 2016

I've been pretty silent for the majority of the season. Some of you may be okay with that, while others may be wondering what was going on.

Well, the fact is I only like to write when I'm inspired to. For example, there was plenty to talk about going into the trade deadline. I'm not very knowledgeable when it comes to prospects, but even the least informed baseball fan knew getting guys like Gleyber Torres and Clint Frazier was a big deal. Unfortunately, there just wasn't much else about the 2016 Yankees that was inspiring.

The Yankees finished the season 84-78, good for fourth place in the American League East, and four games short of a wildcard spot in the postseason. That win total is the worst the team has had since 1995, although they at least made it the playoffs that season. Yeah, they also only won 84 games in 2014, but they finished two places higher in the AL East.

But the team's record wasn't the only thing making 2016 so bad...

While the true meaning of this song goes over many people's heads, it definitely fits the 2016 season for the Yankees.

-It was great seeing so many top prospects get acquired, but in doing so the Yankees... for the first time in I don't know how long... gave up on the season before August even started (like I said in the past... simply trading Henderson is not what I'd call "selling"). Was it necessary in order to build a brighter future? Absolutely! But it was still hard to swallow.

-Total attendance at Yankee Stadium was at it's lowest since the new stadium opened in 2009, and has actually been declining each year since 2010.
*Old Yankee Stadium had a higher capacity, so to be fair I'm not including the fact that attendance was at it's lowest since 2000... the year the team won the freakin' World Series!

-Not a single batter for the Yankees had an OPS+ of at least 100 (aka "league average"). Actually, Carlos Beltran would have been their lone above average hitter, but they traded him away. Oh, and I'm not counting Gary Sanchez or Billy Butler, who spent the majority of the year in the minors or on another team. Nor did I include Chris Parmalee's 374 OPS+, which came after just eight at bats.

-Their second best starter this season, CC Sabathia, is 35 years old and has one more year left on his contract. But I have yet to hear a single Yankees fan say they should re-sign him... and for good reasons. Yes that was "reasonS"... plural.

-Their third most used reliever, Kirby Yates, had a 5.23 ERA and has already been put on waivers and claimed by the Angels.

To sum up, this was the worst Yankees' season I've had to endure in well over 20 years.

Unlike this cartoon, my last statement includes zero hyperbole.

But you know what? I'm okay. The World hasn't crashed around me. My girlfriend did not return the engagement ring. My mother did not stop talking to me. I still have a few friends. I'm still doing well at my job. The college football season has still been pretty sweet (Go Bucks!). And most importantly (I hope my fiance doesn't read that)... I'm still a huge fan of the New York Yankees.

It was not fun watching the Yankees' offense fail to come through with a big hit over and over and over again. It flat-out stunk to see the bullpen blow game after game late in the season, while they were barely hanging on to postseason hopes. Like most of you, I felt a sharp pain in my stomach whenever somebody not named "Masahiro Tanaka" was the starting pitcher.

But things are going to get better. That doesn't mean they'll get better right away, but there is reason to be optimistic. And let's be honest... do you expect anything less than optimism out of me?

Look at the facts...

1. Gary Sanchez and Brian McCann will share the majority of designated hitter at bats, which should be a nice improvement over this past season's primary DH... Alex Rodriguez and his OPS+ of 58 in 2016.

2. Greg Bird and/or Tyler Austin will probably see the most time at first base, meaning we don't have to worry about Mark Teixeira and his OPS+ of 74 from this past season.

3. I'm betting Aaron Judge will be the primary right fielder next year, and it shouldn't be hard for him to hit better than the 2016 team's primary RFer, Aaron Hicks (OPS+ of 65).
*although, chances are he won't be a better hitter than the Yankees' former regular right fielder... Carlos Beltran.

What about the pitching? Well, in that case it's all about faith...

1. Other than a horrible outing against the Dodgers, which was followed by an "ok" start at best versus the Red Sox, Bryan Mitchell showed that he could possibly hold down a rotation spot next year.

2. While many Yankees fans, and rightfully so, believe luis Severino is a future reliever, there's still a chance Luis is able to be a viable starter.

3. I certainly don't expect to see the team build a three-headed monster like the one they had before the trade deadline, but bringing back Chapman, and not building the rest of the bullpen on the fly, could do wonders.

4. Brian Cashman could find something of value in the trade market for a starter or two.

"I did pretty well at the trade deadline, right? So have faith."

To be honest, though, I don't expect anything great for the 2017 Yankees. I see it more like another stepping stone towards building another great team, which could contend for the World Series year after year.

That means living with the headache that will be Aaron Judge's strikeout rate still being on the bad side. Living with the fact that Gary Sanchez will not hit like Babe Ruth all year long, and turn in a 50 homer season. Living with the fact that Greg Bird is unlikely to come roaring out of the gate after missing all of 2016. And living with a starting rotation that continues to have more questions than answers.

The main point I'm trying to make is that while it stinks that the Yankees' season is over with, and it left so many of us completely and totally underwhelmed, our lives and the lives of every person with ties to the organization go on. And I hope everybody remembers that next year when they continue to struggle here and there.

We are the New York Yankees, and we will never die.

Yankees Offseason Begins & Ends w/ the Brian McCann Decision

The New York Yankees made leaps and bounds this season in re-shaping their organization and while the team has made strides towards rebuilding and retooling the team and the organization still has a long way to go admittedly. The team still has plans of getting under the luxury tax threshold eventually and while the team doesn’t necessarily have plans to compete in 2017 the team shows signs of going all-in again as soon as 2018. With that said the offseason needs to begin now for the Yankees and the first decision that needs to be made is what to do with Brian McCann.

The Yankees offense will likely begin and end with McCann. The offseason will hinge on the Brian McCann decision in my opinion. If he’s moved what will the Yankees to do replace his roster spot? Will they sign a veteran DH and masher like Mark Trumbo or will they simply carry an extra outfielder or middle infielder since the roster crunch is a real thing. Will they hold onto him in hopes of having his veteran presence be huge for the Yankees pitching staff and starter Gary Sanchez while serving as insurance? So many questions and not enough answers until and unless McCann is traded this offseason. He is the first domino that needs to fall. Or not to fall.

The Yankees have a few options obviously and the easiest option is to just keep him. Sure he would become the most expensive backup catcher maybe in the history of Major League Baseball but depending on the return that may be better than trading him to, say, the Atlanta Braves for marginal prospects while we send cash over to pay his salary. McCann would still get work in as he has seemingly become CC Sabathia’s personal catcher while he could also double as a DH and occasional first baseman from time to time. Austin Romine could be dealt, who showed an ability to handle a staff and a bat at the MLB level in a short sampling this season, keeping McCann here for the remaining two years of his deal.

The other option for New York is moving McCann and keeping Romine as the team’s backup catcher. Ideally New York would want the team that acquires McCann to take on his full salary while sending back a nice prospect return but truth be told that may not be an option going forward. New York needs to prepare for that. Many teams need catchers and there may be more competition for him in the winter than there was in the summer where the Atlanta Braves were the only team linked to be interested in his services. Either way McCann has to stay or he has to go but they need to make the decision now because the entire offseason hinges on it. 

MLB Playoff Schedule for 10/12/16

This page has been left intentionally blank. NO BASEBALL TODAY ladies and gentleman. Whatever will we do with our evening? Maybe I’ll make a post about it, you never can tell with me. Enjoy the off day. 

This Day in New York Yankees History 10/12: Casey Stengel Day

Not much has happened on this day in New York Yankees history believe it or not. The team didn't capture any World Series championships, break any records, or win any big games. Casey Stengel made the Yankees news a couple times though when on this day in 1948 the Yankees named Stengel the manager. Stengel was replacing Bucky Harris after never finishing higher than fifth place with the Braves or the Dodgers in his managerial career.

Also on this day in Stengel history the Hall of Fame manager hit the deciding home run in a World Series against the Bronx Bombers. In front of the largest crowd in MLB history, a mere 62,430 fans, Stengel hit his second home run of the World Series for the Giants in a 1-0 victory over the Yankees.