Thursday, December 29, 2016

Barry Bonds and Roger Clemens… In the Hall?

I have sent my Internet Baseball Writers Association of America (IBWAA) ballot in and on my ballot I listed a few questionable and/or controversial names. Two of those names were Barry Bonds and Roger Clemens. With the Baseball Writers Association of America (BBWAA) ballots due on New Year’s Eve the early numbers suggest that I may not be alone in my thought process in adding these two to the ballots. Could we see a year where both Barry Bonds and Roger Clemens are in the Hall of Fame?

Ryan Thibodaux tracks the votes for the BBWAA and reportedly he has seen 122 of the 435 ballots come through as of the beginning of the week. According to Thibodaux the pair of historic suspected steroid users are garnering votes at a much higher rate than last year and at a much higher rate than expected. Last year Bonds had 44.3% of the vote while Clemens had 45.2% of the vote, as a reminder any player needs at least 75% of the vote to gain entrance into the Hall of Fame, but this year according to reports the pair each have tallied a whopping 71.3% of the vote to date.

Thibodaux also adds that Manny Ramirez, who has failed a pair of tests during the testing era and was suspended in both 2009 and 2011, has received 32% of the vote thus far. This is surprising and this actually makes me a little weary about what’s to come in the coming years but that’s another blog post for another day.

What a way to kick off 2017. Roger Clemens and Barry Bonds… both potentially Hall of Fame players finally. Stay tuned, it may happen. 

David Robertson Reunion Time? Not Likely

The New York Yankees starting rotation may once again start the season with more question marks rather than answers and for that reason the team may once again look to build a super bullpen that can take some of the innings and the pressure off the rotation while locking down some wins. The team already has Dellin Betances, Aroldis Chapman, Adam Warren and Tyler Clippard among others in the fold but rumors have begun to show up regarding the team having yet another reunion with a bullpen arm this winter. Those rumors involve the Chicago White Sox trading former Yankees closer David Robertson back to the Bronx in a deal that may or may not involve Jose Quintana. While Quintana to the Bronx may actually be a thing that comes to fruition this winter it is looking less and less likely that Robertson is closing games in the Bronx as a Yankee any time soon.

The acquisition of David Robertson would undoubtedly give the Yankees one of the better bullpens in the American League once again in 2017. Robertson has had his struggles with walks and making save opportunities interesting in general but despite his seven blown saves in 2016 the former Yankees right-hander did finish the season with 37 saves. At age 31 the White Sox are looking to move the right-hander in the midst of their own fire sale in hopes of bringing back not only prospects but some salary relief as well as Robertson is owed $25 million over the next two seasons. The White Sox may get those prospects and they may get that salary relief as well but I cannot see the Yankees being the team to bring that to Chicago this offseason.

Now New York could always take Robertson’s contract in a good faith gesture to keep the prospect package for Jose Quintana down to a comfortable level but I can’t see Hal Steinbrenner signing off on another almost $30 million in salary. The Yankees are in a Catch 22 here. Their GM, Brian Cashman, does not want to give up the prospects necessary to acquire a talented arm like Quintana but at the same time the team does not seem willing to take on the salary of a Robertson in order to potentially give up a lesser prospect package. The Yankees want their cake and they want to eat it too and that alone will likely keep the team from getting now only Robertson, but Quintana as well.

Just my opinion. What’s yours? Leave it below in the comments section.

Bring Back Peter O’Brien

The New York Yankees are in the midst of a youth movement so wouldn’t it make sense to bring back one of the young guys they traded away not too long ago? I mean, it makes sense to me as there is no such thing as a bad minor league deal so what are the Yankees waiting for? Bring back Peter O’Brien.

O’Brien was the Yankees second round pick back in the 2012 MLB First Year Players Draft and he toiled around in the Yankees farm system until the 2014 season when Yankees GM Brian Cashman traded him to the Arizona Diamondbacks in the Martin Prado deal. Prado was nice for the half-season he was in the Bronx but O’Brien was full of potential with his heavy bat and impressive batting average numbers in the minor leagues so losing a talent like his hurt a bit.

O’Brien destroyed Triple-A pitching in 2015 which led to his MLB debut with the Diamondbacks and continued to crush minor league pitching in 2016 but for whatever reason that never translated into much success at the MLB level. Sure in eight games in 2015 he finished with a .400 batting average but in 2016 the former catcher and third baseman managed just a .141 batting average with a .571 OPS with five home runs in 64 at-bats leading to the team designating him for assignment this winter.

O’Brien’s numbers at the MLB level are ugly, no one can deny that, but he’s still just 26-years old and won’t be 27-years old until the heat of the summer in 2017 leaving some upside for the former Yankees prospect. With O’Brien having experience at the catcher position as well as first base, third base, right field and left field the Yankees may want to keep him around at the Triple-A level just in case an injury or three happens this coming season. The Yankees, and specifically manager Joe Girardi, love flexibility and versatility and O’Brien brings a ton of both with his heavy, power-hitting bat.

What’s the worst that could happen with a minor league deal with an invite to spring training? He flops? So what? Now what’s the best thing that could happen? Well he could beat out Tyler Austin for one of the final Yankees bench spots and he could take advantage of the small dimensions inside Yankee Stadium giving the Yankees a legitimate power hitting threat off the bench. All for a minor league deal and potentially $507,500. Sounds like a win-win to me. Get it done.

How Have the Yankees Done in "Star Wars Years"

Okay guys, I know I'm late to this party as usual but I finally, FINALLY, saw the new Star Wars movie recently and I loved it. Truth be told I was never a huge Star Wars movie guy. I watched the movies and I liked the movies but I was not one to dress up as a Storm Trooper and go to conventions and stuff, you know? Recently my son got into Star Wars though and we've been growing our fandom together. While playing Star Wars Commander on our iPads I got thinking about how I could link Star Wars to the New York Yankees. I know the Bronx Bombers have a lot of success in the years that a Democrat is a President of the United States so I got thinking about how well the team did in the year of a Star Wars movie release.

Well the first year that a Star Wars movie was released was 1977. I don't need to tell you how that worked out for the Yankees. Reggie Jackson had three home runs in three at bats in Game Six and had a home run in his final at bat of Game Five to win the World Series and bring the trophy back to the Bronx, despite the fact that the Bronx is Burning.
Episode II, which is now Episode V, came out in 1980 but despite this being a thing in the movie the empire did not strike back in the Bronx. Well that depends on if you follow the whole "World Series or Bust" mantra. The Yankees did finish with 103 victories but the team was swept in the American League Championship Series 3-0 by the Kansas City Royals. Tommy John won 22 games and Ron Guidry won 17 games this season and Reggie Jackson said goodbye to the Bronx just one year later.

Episode VI, the Return of the Jedi came out in 1983 but the Yankees did not make the cut in Jedi training. The Yankees did win 91 games that season but it was only good enough for a third place finish in the American League East. At least the team had plenty of time to watch what was thought to be the final movie of the trilogy.

The prequel trilogy began in 1999 when the Phantom Menace came out and it came out just in time for the dynasty years of the New York Yankees. The Yankees would win their third World Series title in four seasons in 1999.

Episode II Attack of the Clones came out in 2002 but the Yankees were not able to clone their success from 1999, 2000 and 2001. The Yankees won the World Series in 1999 and 2000 and were one out away from another in 2001 but the team did not make the cut in 2002. The team did win 103 games and win the AL East but an ALDS loss to the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim left a bitter taste in the Yankees mouth.

Episode III Revenge of the Sith came out in 2005 and the Yankees were looking for revenge. The year prior the team had lost a 3-0 lead to the Boston Red Sox in the ALCS and watched from home as they broke the Curse of the Bambino and the Yankees owner George Steinbrenner was not happy about it. Once again New York won 95 games and once again won the AL East but one again the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim did them in. Another season and another ALDS loss.

In closing the Yankees have had success in almost every single season that a Star Wars movie has been released. The team has won World Series or at worst won 90 games in every single season besides the most recent 2016 season giving New York some hope for 2017, well if the past is any indicator of the future anyway. Well, unless the 2015 movie is the reason for the successful 2015 season despite coming out after the MLB season. I guess we'll have to stay tuned for 2017 to find out. Stay tuned and Rogue One!

Report: Michael Pineda Drawing Trade Interest

The New York Yankees went into this offseason seemingly willing to trade away any veteran or high priced player that wasn’t tied down. We’ve seen it with the Brian McCann trade and we’ve heard rumbles of potential Chase Headley and Brett Gardner deals but what about another player from the team that is reportedly drawing trade interest this offseason. What about the potential idea of trading away Michael Pineda before he gets too expensive or before he reaches free agency after the 2017 season? Would it work for New York?

There’s no denying the potential and the talent that Pineda has. What you can deny is whether he will ever put it all together over the course of an entire season or whether he can get out of his own way, Pine Tar Gate anyone?, long enough to put it all together long enough to have a great career. For that reason alone there will at least be some teams that will be intrigued and interested in Michael Pineda if he were to come available this winter via trade. I believe that a lot of teams could see the right-hander as a one-year stop gap and/or a buy-low candidate this season due in large fact to his peripherals, his raw stuff, talent and his age.

Last season Pineda finished the season with a 4.82 ERA and a 1.35 WHIP, neither of which are very impressive by any means, but when you look at his FIP you can see that according to sabermetrics he was a much better pitcher. Pineda had a 3.80 FIP, a 3.30 xFIP, a 10.61 K/9 ratio, a 3.91 BB/9 ratio and a .339 BABIP (batting average on balls in play) which suggest that his defense, and maybe a bit of bad luck, didn’t do him any favors in 2016.

According to Andrew Marchand of ESPN New York the Yankees have fielded offers for Pineda but have denied all trade requests to date due in large part to their lack of quality arms in the rotation. Plus it’s worth noting that the Yankees have always been high on his upside and would presumably rather see him flourish or finally figure it all out in the Bronx rather than for another time like we’ve seen far too many times in recent years.

This is it for Pineda though as time is running out on his tenure in the Bronx. Pineda is set to hit free agency after the 2017 season so it’s time to put up, or shut up. Let’s hope for the former and not the latter although it could be either and he could still be traded this summer if the Yankees are out of contention. Stay tuned. 

Welcome Back Nick Rumbelow!

The New York Yankees are at it again, this time they brought back Nick Rumbelow. The team designated Rumbelow for assignment earlier this winter as the right-hander will miss most of, if not all of, the 2017 regular season as he rehabs from Tommy John surgery but the team has brought him back on a new minor league deal according to Robert Pimpsner and our friends over at Pinstriped Prospects.

Rumbelow, just 25-years old, was originally drafted by the New York Yankees in the seventh round of the 2013 MLB First Year Players Draft out of LSU. By the 2015 season Rumbelow had already reached the Major Leagues appearing in 17 games down the stretch before hurting his arm just one game into the 2016 season.

Rumbelow had Tommy John surgery this season after going on the disabled list on April 11th so a late August or September call up is not completely out of the realm of possibilities but it is very likely that he misses the entire regular season just to be sure he’s healthy and ready. Either way, welcome home.

This Day In New York Yankees History 12/29: Melissa Ludtke

On this day in 1977 Melissa Ludtke filed a lawsuit against major league baseball, the New York Yankees, and New York city officials after the Sports Illustrated sports writer was denied access to interview players in the locker room during the World Series. Wonder if Reggie didn't want her to see the straw that stirred the drink.
Also on this day in 1933 Babe Ruth lost an opportunity to manage the Cincinnati Reds after being denied a release from the Yankees by Jacob Ruppert. Ruth was 38 years old at the time and was coming off a .301 season with 34 HR's and 103 RBI's in the 1933 season.

Also, although this is relatively minor, the Yankees traded Shawn Kelley to the San Diego Padres on this day in 2014 for RHP prospect Johnny Barbato.