Saturday, November 19, 2016

Without McCann Now the Yankees Need a DH

Yes ladies and gentleman this Saturday has turned into the “Everything Brian McCann traded to the Houston Astros” show, I hope you don’t mind too much. We’ve met the two pitchers that the Yankees got back in return for McCann and I had my say on the state of the franchise and the trade in general so now we go to the aftermath of the deal. The New York Yankees, assuming they don’t want to rotate young guys like Tyler Austin and Greg Bird, in and out of the designated hitter position will now need a DH for the 2017 season. Who is your man?

Carlos Beltran’s name immediately comes to mind for many reasons. Beltran is already acclimated to the New York atmosphere, he was a damn good hitter in 2016 for the Yankees and he will likely command a one-year deal as a DH in 2017. The only problem is that he gives very little in the way of roster or payroll flexibility, even on a one year deal he will likely want more than the $15 million he was paid in 2016, which is important when considering that Greg Bird will likely be a question mark all season long with that shoulder.

Edwin Encarnacion comes to mind as a possible replacement for McCann at the DH position and for some reasons he makes sense for the Yankees while for other reasons he does not. Encarnacion makes sense because he is one of the most prolific power hitters in the game right now at both the DH and first base positions but the contract he will command at his age will likely be out of the comfort level and range of the Yankees this offseason. And good for them, FYI. I know it would be nice to have some insurance and depth at first base just in case Greg Bird isn’t ready after shoulder surgery or just in case he struggles but Encarnacion is not the answer in my opinion.

Who is the answer is a man who has already donned pinstripes this season for that exact reason, Billy Butler. Butler can DH, he can play first base, he takes his walks and he does everything that a sabermatrician likes. Butler likely won’t command a huge contract both in terms of years or dollars but he does make sense. He, like Encarnacion, can serve as insurance for Greg Bird and his shoulder, he can hit towards the lower half of the order or maybe even higher if Brett Gardner is traded while taking his walks and putting the ball in play. 

He may not be the sexy name or big time star that many Yankees fans probably want but he may make the most sense for the team this offseason. Stay tuned to see how it all works out. 

Meet a Prospect: Jorge Guzman

Earlier today we introduced one of the newest prospects to join the Yankees farm system in Albert Abreu so it would only be fair to also get to know the other right-handed arm that joined the Yankees in the Brian McCann trade, Jorge Guzman. Welcome to the team, the organization and most importantly welcome to the family. This is Meet a Prospect: The Jorge Guzman Edition.

Guzman, unlike Abreu, has struggled a bit as a starter in the Houston Astros minor league system and may find himself in the bullpen for the New York Yankees before things are all said and done. Guzman has a great fastball at just 20-years old but his command has been questionable at best throughout his short minor league career.

Guzman strikes out an absolute ton of hitters which is evident by his 11.5 K/9 ratio but his 4.63 ERA leaves much to be desired overall. Guzman’s walk numbers were better in 2016 when compared to his 2015 numbers, which is encouraging, but he sure has a long way to go before he is considered at least a starting pitching prospect let alone a potential game changing prospect in my eyes.

Guzman has a long way to go, he also reached A-Ball in 2016, but if he can develop some command he could be a strong bullpen piece for the Yankees going forward. If he adds another pitch or two he could conceivably pull a Chance Adams or equivalent and get converted to a starter as well but again, he has a long way to go either way. One step at a time.

Welcome to the family, Jorge. Glad to have you.

My Thoughts Following the Brian McCann Trade

When I heard the news that the New York Yankees had traded away catcher Brian McCann to the Houston Astros for two right-handed starting pitchers on Thursday, one we have already met this morning in Albert Abreu and the other we will meet in a few hours in Jorge Guzman, I had a bit of bittersweet emotions hit me. I tried to put those into words on twitter when I talked about the trade but you guys know me by now, I cannot be contained to merely 140 characters. I like to talk so here are my thoughts on the Brian McCann to Houston trade from Thursday.

First, let me be frank. I love the direction that the team and the organization is going. I have preached for God knows how many years that the Yankees had to stop relying on veteran players leaving or well past their primes and instead need to focus on building and using their farm system. After ranting and raving about that on various forums, emails, Twitter and now blog posts it seems like they are finally listening so of course I am quite happy about that but as a fan you tend to get attached to players at the same time and hate to see them leave.

The entire year before Brian McCann came over via free agency I blogged about him and the need for him in pinstripes. As a former New Yorker who now calls Atlanta “home” I’ve seen plenty of McCann and knew what he would bring to the table in New York and I made it my life’s goal to blog about it until he donned pinstripes. I was ecstatic when he was signed and I immediately went out and bought a pair of #34 Yankees away jerseys (you know, because I live in Atlanta so I only buy away jerseys anymore). Now here I am stuck with two nameless jerseys because one of my favorite players is gone.

I’m happy for McCann, don’t get me wrong, because he wanted an opportunity to play every day and an opportunity to catch as much as possible and he can’t exactly have that in New York right now but it’s a bittersweet moment for me. I loved what McCann brought to the team, the staff and the clubhouse and while the more I read the more I get really, really excited for these two prospects I just can’t bring myself to committing to being 100% happy or upset with this trade either way. Again, I love the direction and the plan the team is following through with right now but at the same time I really liked McCann wearing pinstripes catching CC Sabathia, Masahiro Tanaka and others over the past couple of years.

Thank you for all the memories Mac!

Meet a Prospect: Albert Abreu

The New York Yankees sent Brian McCann to the Houston Astros for two pitching prospects late Thursday and today we will meet them both. The first of the two prospects is right-handed pitcher Albert Abreu who was thought to be the center piece of the deal from Houston. Let’s meet the newest member of the farm system and the newest member of the family. This is Meet a Prospect: The Albert Abreu Edition.

At the time of the trade Abreu was the Houston Astros 7th best prospect in what is considered to be a solid farm system despite flooding their MLB roster with talent from the minor leagues in recent years. Abreu is a project for the Yankees and their minor league instructors as Abreu reached just Single-A Ball in 2016 posting a 3-8 record with a 3.72 ERA. Pay no attention to the wins and loss record, especially that low in the minor league system, and instead focus on the flashes of dominance that Abreu displayed this season with Houston.

Abreu projects to be a starter at the Major League level with his 99 MPH fastball at just 21-years old. When the Astros signed Abreu out of the Dominican Republic back in 2013 the right-hander was throwing just 91 MPH with his fastball.

Like many pitchers from the Dominican Republic and like many 21-year old pitchers the career for Abreu will be made or lost on whether he can develop his secondary pitches. Abreu throws a slider and a changeup but both pitches are considered to be raw or underdeveloped at this time.

Abreu is a project but the sky is the limit for the kid. The Yankees could have ace or #2 pitcher type projections on their hands if they can develop him carefully. If not he’d make for a hell of a bullpen arm to team up with Dellin Betances or whatever other flamethrower the Yankees have in the bullpen at the time. The wait on players like Abreu is tough but I am excited to see this kid in the system.

Welcome, and enjoy. 

Weekly AFL Check In: James Kaprielian

Another successful week under the belt and on the right elbow for Yankees top pitching prospect James Kaprielian. The Yankees prospect missed basically the entire 2016 regular season with an elbow injury and was sent down to the Arizona Fall League to not only get some work in but to test out the elbow and so far all signs seem to be pointing to the right direction. Great news Yankees family, great news.

Here is the stat line, and I know I say this every time but I feel like I have to emphasize it to some Yankees fans, although the most important stat should be the number of games he has missed with a flare up in the elbow. That number is 0. Enjoy. 

This Day in New York Yankees History 11/19: A-Rod the Yankees MVP

On this day in 2007 Alex Rodriguez received 26 of the 28 first place votes from the Baseball Writers Association of America to win the Most Valuable Player award. A Rod belted 54 home runs and knocked in 156 RBI's while posting a .314 batting average to bring home the MVP award. This would be Alex's third MVP award overall and second with the Yankees, his first coming in 2005

Also on this day in 1968 the Yankees right handed pitcher Stan Bahnsen was named the American League Rookie of the Year. Bahnsen put up a 17-12 record with a 2.05 ERA and 162 strikeouts in his rookie campaign. Del Unser of the Washington Senators finished in second place, a distant second place.

Finally on this day in 1939 the Yankees All-Star outfielder Joe DiMaggio would marry his well-known actress girlfriend Dorothy Arnold at St. Peter and Paul Church in San Francisco. DiMaggio met Arnold on the set of the movie "Manhattan Merry Go-Round" in which Joe had a very minor role in.