Wednesday, March 8, 2017

Quick Hit: Mason Williams Cleared for Baseball Activities

Good evening Yankees family. Here is a quick hit regarding one of the Yankees outfield prospects to end your night here on the blog. According to Lou DiPietro, a friend of the blog and a member of the YES Network and crew, Mason Williams has been cleared to resume baseball activities after sitting out the first two weeks of Yankees spring training camp with a lingering patella tendonitis issue in his left knee.

Mason will begin running on Monday and has been throwing at the Yankees minor league complex since camp began. The Yankees will need Mason to be healthy and ready to go as he is the only true and healthy outfielder on the 40 man roster behind Brett Gardner, Aaron Hicks, Aaron Judge and Jacoby Ellsbury. Matt Holliday, Rob Refsnyder and Ronald Torreyes could conceivably play outfield in a pinch and Tyler Austin should be back at the end of spring training camp if all goes well but Mason is more important than ever for New York right now. His health is key to having insurance and depth in the minor league system. 

2017 Team USA World Baseball Classic Roster

The World Baseball Classic has begun for some teams, including the surprising Team Israel team that I have a feeling we will all be talking about a ton before this is all said and done, but we still have to wait two more days to see Team USA in action. On March 10th Team USA will open up their WBC schedule against team Columbia and this is the roster, for your information, that Team USA will send out to the game. Keep it bookmarked just in case you need it.

Chris Archer, Rays
Tyler Clippard, Yankees
Danny Duffy, Royals
Sam Dyson, Rangers
Mychal Givens, Orioles
Luke Gregerson, Astros
Nate Jones, White Sox
Jake McGee, Rockies
Andrew Miller, Indians
Pat Neshek, Phillies
Tanner Roark, Nationals
David Robertson, White Sox
Marcus Stroman, Blue Jays

Buster Posey, Giants
Jonathan Lucroy, Rangers
A.J. Ellis, Marlins

1B Paul Goldschmidt, Diamondbacks
1B Eric Hosmer, Royals
2B Daniel Murphy, Nationals
2B Ian Kinsler, Tigers
3B Nolan Arenado, Rockies
3B/2B Matt Carpenter, Cardinals
3B/SS Alex Bregman, Astros
SS Brandon Crawford, Giants

Adam Jones, Orioles
Andrew McCutchen, Pirates
Giancarlo Stanton, Marlins
Christian Yelich, Marlins

Designated Pitcher Pool
Brett Cecil, Cardinals
Michael Fulmer, Tigers
Sonny Gray, Athletics
J.A. Happ, Blue Jays
Drew Smyly, Mariners
Alex Wilson, Tigers

If You Had the Chance to Eat Dinner w/ One Athlete, Dead or Alive, Who Would It Be?

So I just had an interesting conversation with a co-worker and someone I truly like to call my friend. Him and I like to bounce these hypotheticals back and forth and also ask our opinions on certain things, mainly sports though. He will ask me who I think the greatest basketball player is and any answer other than Michael Jordan is wrong and he doesn’t want to hear why you think so. I’ll ask him who he thinks the greatest baseball player is and any answer short of Mickey Mantle, although I will hear you out, usually falls on deaf ears for me. This morning though he asked me a question that really made me scratch my head and think so I wanted to share a little bit more of me, our new direction here on the site, and share my answer with you all.

I was asked the question if I could sit down and share one meal with any athlete from any sport, alive or dead, who would I sit down with? For some odd reason, and this is an example of a time you definitely do not want to go with your gut reaction, the first athlete that popped into my head was Connor McGregor from the UFC. Of all the athletes that ever graced this Earth I wanted to sit down with one of the biggest crap talkers in all of the UFC for whatever reason. Now this thought never left my head, until now, and as I sat there I couldn’t get another recent and great athlete out of my mind. I feared I would disappoint him with my answer but it was the only answer that I had so I just went out with it. Derek Jeter.

He didn’t say much, maybe out of respect for me or maybe because it was actually a good answer, except shake his head and give me one of those “I’m your friend so I am going to agree with you but I don’t really agree with you” type of dismissive gestures and he had to go back to work. Sitting here thinking on it though after the fact I don’t think I would change my answer in the slightest.

I was born in November of 1985 so right around the time I was really getting into baseball the Yankees were introducing this rookie shortstop to the club, Derek Jeter. After watching Jeter help lead the Yankees to the World Series in 1996 I became all consumed by him. I wanted to play shortstop in Little League and I wanted to wear #2. I emulated his stance, although I couldn’t hit for crap with it and quickly scrapped that idea after a couple 0-4 and 0-5 days, and I counted the years until I could take his position. I figured if I was 25 when I reached the Major Leagues that Jeter would be 36 and would be delegated to designated hitter duties or ready to retire by then. Boy was I wrong but keep in mind that I was about 10-or-11 years old at the time. I wanted to not only be Derek Jeter but I wanted to replace and eclipse Derek Jeter, because that’s my nature.

As I grew older I grew farther from Jeter and leaned more in the Alex Rodriguez direction. Sure, hindsight being what it is, that was probably the “wrong” decision but it was the decision I made with my fandom and I stick with it today. That doesn’t mean I still wouldn’t like to sit down with him and his wife, Hannah Jeter, and have a discussion. The things that Jeter must have seen and never talked about. Could you imagine the stories you could hear if you got him to open up just a little? Could you imagine his sarcastic and witty response to the gift basket rumors or this rumor or that rumor if he knew that what he said wouldn’t be repeated or recorded?

Could you imagine? I’d be a better leader and a better person just from having a conversation with the man, let alone if he decided he liked my witty, magnetic, creative and humble personality and decided to mentor me or whatever. Jeter is that kind of person, I assume anyway because no one reading this probably truly knows Jeter except for Jeter himself and his wife and family, that just makes you want to be the best version of you just to keep pace with him. That is the kind of person I want to be and that is the kind of person I want to spend all my extra and free time with for the rest of my life, someone who makes me want to be the best Daniel Burch that I can be.

So Jeter if you’re reading this, and you shouldn’t be because you have your own blog to maintain and a nursery to set up, I’d choose you. I’d choose you every time. If you’re ever in Ellijay, GA, which again you won’t be… just take my word for it haha, hit me up. I’m the only one down here with the Yankees hat on. 

Kyle Higashioka Learns Japanese Just to Talk to Masahiro Tanaka

Yesterday I discussed a few men that could be vying for open roster spots with the New York Yankees this spring training, especially as many key members of the team are off representing their respective countries in the World Baseball Classic, and one such player I specifically mentioned by name was catcher Kyle Higashioka. Well here we are in a new day but we are once again talking about Higashioka and for a whole new reason. Apparently Higashioka, born in California but obviously of the Japanese decent, learned the language of his grandfather and family before him this winter and into the spring with one main goal in mind…. Talking to Yankees ace Masahiro Tanaka.

Now while I may be embellishing just a little when I say he learned the language to talk to Tanaka, his father has reportedly pushed him for years to learn Japanese, having Tanaka this year and potentially players like Shohei Otani next season and beyond the Yankees catching prospect thought it could only help his chances in reaching the Major Leagues with the club.

Higashioka, a seventh round draft pick by the Yankees in the 2008 MLB First Year Players Draft, lost an important year of development in 2014 after undergoing Tommy John surgery but seemed healthy in 2016 when he finished his age-26 season with 21 home runs between Double-A and Triple-A. Higashioka is out to prove that the power spike is not a fluke in 2017 and is well on his way to doing that after hitting a home run in his first spring training at bat of the Grapefruit League this season. Higashioka altered his swing before last season and has definitely seen an uptick in power and his line drive hitting which should only improve this season as Higashioka continues to put himself on the Yankees map.

Also, since I am feeling educational this morning, if you ever wanted to know how to say a few key words in Japanese for a catcher like Kyle Higashioka you’re in luck. Daniel is here. Enjoy and you’re welcome.

sutoreeto (fastball)
suraidaa (slider)
supuritta (splitter)
kattaa (cutter)
takamei (high)
hikamei (low)
nikakoo (inside)

gikakoo (outside)

So it Seems Naps Are a No No

The world is a grind and so is the Major League Baseball season. There is no true offseason anymore much like in life there aren’t any true breaks anymore. Everyone is so busy and everything needs to happen now. We are a society that wants our four course meal cooked for us and we want it now no matter what you have to do to get it done, and God forbid if it’s cold or old or not up to your freshness or general standards. We want our cake and we want to eat it too and we often forget what it’s like to simply sit in a house with a tin roof or sit in a car with the one you love and listen to each other breath while the rain hits the roof.

Why do I bring this up? Life is busy and there isn’t always time for naps. Major League Baseball, and especially spring training during those intense spring training competitions, are unrelenting and don’t allow time for naps either like the nap that Bryan Mitchell took on Monday afternoon. Mitchell, making his third start of the spring, is a definite option for one of the two open starting rotation spots in the Yankees pitching staff and his bad start could not have come at a worse time.

It’s mid-March now and while this is still just the beginning this doesn’t mean it’s time to take a nap. You have to still take the bull by the horns and you have to ride that mother like there is no tomorrow… because tomorrow isn’t promised for anyone this time of the year. Words to live by. Good morning all. 

A Shout-Out to TGP Leadership…

Daniel Burch was a man,
Yes, a big man!
With an eye like an eagle
And as tall as a mountain was he!

Daniel Burch was a man,
Yes, a big man!
He was brave, he was fearless
And as tough as a mighty oak tree!

From the Yankees cap on the top of ol’ Dan
To the heel of his pinstriped shoe;
The rippin’est, roarin’est, fightin’est man
The Yankees Universe ever knew!

OK, I may have plagiarized those words from a well known theme song about a noted frontiersman but I thought I’d give a shout out to Daniel Burch and Bryan Van Dusen (and others) for the tremendous work and accomplishments that they’ve achieved with The Greedy Pinstripes blog during the past five years.  I know that Daniel keeps saying that this a blog and not a news site, but from the short time I’ve been here (about long enough for someone to grow a pimple on their ass), I have not seen many people that put in the effort that Daniel does, day in and day out.  

He and Bryan should be congratulated for their hard work and their continued drive to make this site everything it can be, should be, and will be.  From what I’ve seen, they are selfless and all about the team.  I guess in a way they were Andrew Miller before Andrew Miller was Andrew Miller, if that makes sense.  

So, cheers to Daniel and Bryan!  May success and great joy (and maybe some sleep) continue to flourish in your presence! All of us are excited to see what’s next and look forward to your leadership and insight on a daily basis.  As a fan, I appreciate this blog.  We may not always agree and that’s okay.  At the end of the day, we believe in the New York Yankees and are excited about the team’s future.  It will be a fun day when The Greedy Pinstripes blog is filled with posts about World Championship #28.  In the interim, please keep up the stellar work!  Both of you are very much appreciated.

When Alex Rodriguez officially announced his retirement, I was surprised.  I would have bet that A-Rod would appear this year with another team in an attempt to reach the 700 home run milestone.  I was wrong.  With Tuesday’s announcement that A-Rod has signed with FOX Sports as a full-time analyst, there’s no way he is going to come back.  Not sure how much time his new deal will afford him to consult for the Yankees, but he’s well underway with his second career.  I may be glad that he is no longer playing, but I do wish him the best in his new endeavor.  

Hmmm, the Los Angeles Dodgers are most likely going to start the season with four left-handers in their starting rotation?  I really think that they should trade Clayton Kershaw to the Yankees to relieve some of that pressure!  Ha!  One can dream, right?  

On Tuesday in the exhibition play, the Yankees beat the Tampa Bay Rays, 7-6, in 10 innings.  A close game, yes, but it was nice to return to winning after Monday’s disaster against the Pirates.  Kyle Higashioka has impressed me so far.  I didn’t really think that he had a chance to unseat Yankees backup catcher Austin Romine but he’s starting to change my mind.  He hit a two-run home run in the 7th inning of yesterday’s win.  Higashioka has shown great initiative and has even learned how to call pitches in Japanese in an effort to better communicate with ace Masahiro Tanaka.  Maybe Austin Romine should be checking out housing in Pittsburgh after all.

With the win over the Rays, the Yankees improved their record to 10-3.  Now if I can just figure out how the team can replicate this start in April…

This Day In New York Yankees History 3/8: Yankees vs. Cuba

On this day in 1947 the New York Yankees beat the Dodgers 1-0 in Havana's new stadium delCerro. The Yankees Snuffy Stirnweiss had a tenth inning single which proved to be the game winning hit, the only Yankees hit of the game.

Also on this day in 1930 Babe Ruth signed a two year deal for $160,000 with the Yankees keeping him as the highest paid player of all time for his era. Ed Barrow, the Yankees General Manager at the time, said that "no one will ever be paid more." Alex Rodriguez and Clayton Kershaw say hello.