Friday, January 20, 2017

What’s Coming to George M. Steinbrenner Field?

As we inch closer towards Spring Training 2017 the players, coaches and fans are all presumably excited to get down to Tampa and get things started. Not only is everyone excited for the beginning of a new season but many may be excited about the changes that are coming to the spring training home of the Yankees as well. The organization plans to renovate George M. Steinbrenner Field in the coming years and here is what is to come down in Tampa. Check it out.

Planned updates for the Yankees and George M. Steinbrenner Field include new outfield concourses, the addition of group and social gathering areas at the ballpark, new shaded areas, improved entrances that hope to get more people in and out of the ballpark more quickly, and improvements to the concourses, locker rooms, seating bathrooms, kitchen facilities, luxury suites, elevators and other parts of the building that were not specifically specified by name.

The Yankees committed to staying in the facility through the 2046 season and with the agreement came a $40 million renovation program that was approved by Hillsborough County Commissioners.

Remembering Yankees of the Past: Tim Raines

This morning we discussed one of the newest members of the Hall of Fame Pudge Rodriguez’s short and rather uneventful time in Yankees pinstripes but there was a second former Yankees player to be elected to the Hall this week as well. His name was Tim “Rock” Raines and while he will likely be heading into Cooperstown with a Montreal Expos hat on his head he, and now we, will never forget his time spent here in the Bronx.

Raines was a career National League player before coming over to the American League in 1992 with the Chicago White Sox but he never found true success in the AL until his time with the Bronx Bombers. On December 28, 1995 the New York Yankees acquired Raines in a trade. Raines would be an integral part of the 1996 and 1998 World Series teams in the Bronx although his playing time was ultimately curtailed due to injury.

Raines was always considered to be a great clubhouse and chemistry type guy and he finished his Yankees tenure with a .299/.395/.429 triple slash in three seasons with 18 home runs and 118 RBI. Raines was the perfect example of what made these Yankees teams in the mid-90’s great. Raines played a position or three, he played a role and he played it well.

Now he’s playing that role in the Hall of Fame. Congratulations to him and to his family and friends. This one was a long time coming. 

Promote Torres, Keep Castro, Dump Headley

You know the general Yankees fan base is bored when off-the-wall ideas and trade proposals start coming to the forefront but sometimes there’s an idea that just makes sense and sometimes there’s an idea or two that simply work, and subsequently stick. This I am hoping is one of those ideas as the general consensus seems to be that Gleyber Torres, the main piece the Yankees received back in the Aroldis Chapman to the Chicago Cubs deal from the 2016 season, will make his presence felt in 2017. Now with this hypothetical emergence to the show from Torres in 2017 many fans are left wondering what the Yankees will do with incumbent second baseman Starlin Castro but have no fear Yankees family, I have an idea.

Now I know that Torres is a shortstop by trade but the Yankees seem happy with Didi Gregorius at the position and I would be inclined to agree with them. He’s been great, Castro has been good but he hasn’t been great which makes the decision an easy one for me. The free agent market at basically every position right now is thin so why not take advantage of that and trade Castro away for a new slew of prospects to drool over? OR the team could simply dump third baseman Chase Headley, he does not have a no-trade clause written into his contract, while moving Castro to third base and sliding Torres in at the second base position.

Now don’t get me wrong, this is not going to happen outside of spring training. Sure, Torres tore up minor league pitching in 2016 and continued that against advanced talent down in the Arizona Fall League this season but Torres is likely to start at Double-A Trenton with the Thunder as 2017 opens up, not in the Bronx and not against the Tampa Bay Rays. This discussion and idea set is more geared towards maybe July 2017 and is contingent on if the Yankees are in contention or not and absolutely not geared towards Torres breaking camp with New York. I mean if he tears up the spring camp and manager Joe Girardi wants to bring him to the Major Leagues for Opening Day, more power to him. I’m just not that confident, yet.

There’s no need to rush the 20-year old Torres by any means but if he’s ready the Yankees shouldn’t let a veteran contract or two get in their way of calling him up. Headley can be moved and Castro is willing to play third base, he’s said that as recently as the 2016 season, so don’t hesitate. Do it. 

IBWAA Elect Guerrero, Rodriguez to Hall of Fame

Los Angeles – In its eighth annual Hall of Fame election, the IBWAA selected Vladimir Guerrero and Ivan Rodriguez, both with 84.54% of the vote (175 votes). A 75% threshold is required for election.
Mike Mussina came up one vote short, finishing in third place with 74.88%, followed by Trevor Hoffman (73.91%), Barry Bonds (73.43%) and Roger Clemens (71.50%). There are 470 members in the IBWAA; 208 voted in this election.
Jeff Bagwell (2015), Edgar Martinez (2016) and Tim Raines (2015) did not appear on the 2017 IBWAA Hall of Fame ballot because they have already been honored in previous IBWAA elections.
With those exceptions, the IBWAA ballot was identical to the one used by the BBWAA. All voting is done electronically.
Per a group decision in January, 2014, the IBWAA allows members to vote for up to 15 players, instead of the previous 10, beginning with the 2015 election. In the 2017 election, 92 members voted for 10 or more candidates. Seventeen members voted for 15 candidates. The average vote per member was 8.94.
Complete voting results are as follows:
Player Name
Iván Rodríguez
Vladimir Guerrero
Mike Mussina
Trevor Hoffman
Barry Bonds
Roger Clemens
Curt Schilling
Larry Walker
Manny Ramírez
Gary Sheffield
Fred McGriff
Billy Wagner
Jeff Kent
Sammy Sosa
Lee Smith
Jorge Posada
Tim Wakefield
Jason Varitek
Matt Stairs
Magglio Ordóñez
Edgar Rentería
Arthur Rhodes
Derrek Lee
J.D. Drew
Pat Burrell
Casey Blake
Melvin Mora
Mike Cameron
Carlos Guillén
Freddy Sánchez
Orlando Cabrera
Ballot tabulations by Brian Wittig & Associates.
The IBWAA was established July 4, 2009 to organize and promote the growing online baseball media, and to serve as a digital alternative to the Baseball Writers’ Association of America (BBWAA). Voting for full season awards takes place in September of each year, with selections being announced in November. The IBWAA also holds a Hall of Fame election in December of each year, with results being announced the following January.
In 2010, the IBWAA began voting in its own relief pitcher category, establishing the Rollie Fingers American League Relief Pitcher of the Year and the Hoyt Wilhelm National League Relief Pitcher of the Year Awards.
Among others, IBWAA members include Jim Bowden and David Schoenfield of; Tim Brown, Yahoo! Sports; Craig Calcaterra, NBC Sports Hardball Talk; Bill Chuck,; Derrick Goold, St. Louis Post-Dispatch; Jon Heyman and Jesse Spector, Today’s Knuckleball; Danny Knobler, Bleacher Report; Kevin Kennedy; Kostya Kennedy, Sports Illustrated; Will Leitch, Sports on Earth; Bruce Markusen, Hardball Times; Ross Newhan; Dayn Perry and Matt Snyder,; Tom Hoffarth and J.P. Hoornstra Los Angeles Daily News; Pedro Moura, Los Angeles Times; Tracy Ringolsby,; Ken Rosenthal,; Eno Sarris, FanGraphs; and Bill Arnold.
Association membership is open to any and all Internet baseball writers, with a $75 lifetime fee. Discounts for groups and scholarships are available. Members must be 18 years of age to apply.

For more information please visit

Howard Cole
Founding Director, IBWAA

Remembering Yankees of the Past: Ivan “Pudge” Rodriguez

The Baseball Writers Association of America, better known to you boys and girls as the BBWAA, elected three new members into the Hall of Fame this week including first baseman Jeff Bagwell, outfielder Tim Raines and catcher Pudge “Ivan” Rodriguez. Rodriguez, like Raines, is a former Yankees player albeit for a short period of time so let’s remember the Hall of Fame catcher’s not-so-memorable time in Yankees pinstripes before he makes his walk into the halls of Cooperstown, New York.

Pudge’s 2008 season started out magnificently leading all of Major League Baseball in home runs during spring training but his season went down from there, and in a big way. Pudge did have a couple high spots in 2008 as his career began to wind down including his 2,500th hit of his career on April 10th against the Boston Red Sox but it was on July 30, 2008 that Pudge endured something that no player wants to at that point in their career. Pudge was traded.

The New York Yankees acquired Pudge to be their backup catcher that season after sending relief pitcher Kyle Farnsworth to the Detroit Tigers in the trade. Pudge, splitting time with Jose Molina, started in just 26 of the Yankees 55 games that second half which did not sit well with the now Hall of Fame catcher.

Rodriguez hit just .278 as a Yankee, easily his worst part of the season, before fading off into the sunset as New York failed to make the postseason for the first time since the 1993 season. 

This Day in New York Yankees History 1/20: Joe Sewell

On this day in 1931 33 year old Joe Sewell signs with the New York Yankees after being released by the Indians. Sewell will hit .282 during his three seasons in New York before heading to the Hall of Fame after his 1934 retirement.