Thursday, March 23, 2017

Bird Hunting On A Warm March Day…

From Tyler Austin’s foot to Didi Gregorius’ shoulder, I prefer when the talk is about things other than injuries…like Greg Bird’s cat, Mr Delicious.  I can’t say that I’d want a hairless cat but Mr Delicious, or “Lish”, has an interesting background.  He is the grandson of Mr Bigglesworth of Austin Powers fame.  Mr Bigglesworth, a Sphynx cat named Ted NudeGent, was in a deleted scene in which holding him was “like holding somebody’s ass” according to Dr Evil.  I guess I know what Bird likes to hold when he’s not catching and throwing baseballs.  But seriously, I wonder if Lish can play shortstop?  I found it funny when there were a number of stories written about Lish on Tuesday so I am doing my part to add to the fodder.

Speaking of shortstops, the Yankees have been linked to shortstop Nick Ahmed of the Arizona Diamondbacks as a possible trade candidate.  The 27-year-old Ahmed reminds me more of a Brendan Ryan-type.  Good defender, below-average bat.  Maybe he has better upside than Ryan did, but I’d prefer to stay with the in-house candidates, all things considered.  I realize that my favorite, Tyler Wade, is only 22 and was only in AA ball last year for the Trenton Thunder, but I like his potential as a long-term Ben Zobrist-type.  He has performed well during spring training and I feel he deserves first crack at replacing Didi in the line-up, with an assist from Ronald Torreyes. 

I saw a column on Bleacher Report yesterday that has Chad Green and Adam Warren winning the final two spots in the starting rotation.  Although they have not been my choices, I can’t argue with Green’s results this spring.  Through four appearances and ten innings, he carries a 1.50 ERA and has struck out eight batters.  He hasn’t pitched more than 3 1/3 innings in any appearance so I’d like to see him stretched out a little longer.  If he is in fact one of Girardi’s final candidates, there’s no doubt he’ll be featured in a couple of upcoming games.  For whatever reason, I just can’t get excited about Warren in the rotation.  I love the guy as the swingman in the bullpen, with the occasional spot starts.  But as a ‘take the ball every 5 days’ pitcher, I am less enamored.  I still prefer the potential of Bryan Mitchell at this point.  I had felt Luis Severino was on the right track, but after his recent performances, he’ll need to impress during the final days of camp.  Otherwise, he could find himself in Scranton/Wilkes Barre.

I haven’t written much about DH Matt Holliday but I have been quietly very impressed with him this spring.  He brings an attitude and confidence that a young team needs, and so far, he’s shown he has a clutch bat.  I watched Holliday from afar when he was with the Colorado Rockies and the St Louis Cardinals, but I think he’s better than I had given him credit for.  We know that he is no longer able to play the field on a regular basis.  His injury history in recent years with the Cardinals proved that.  But as the team’s primary DH, he’s a perfect fit.  Time will tell if this is Matt’s one and only season in pinstripes or if he’ll be here for a few.  Nevertheless, I feel 100% better about the DH position this year than I did last year at this time.

On Tuesday, in an intrasquad “camp day” game between the High-A Tampa Yankees and the Low-A Charleston RiverDogs, top pitching prospect James Kaprielian put on a show for the Yankees.  He pitched 3 official innings, throwing 30 strikes in 38 pitches, striking out 7 RiverDogs.  I hope this is a healthy year for Kaprielian as he begins his ascent to the Bronx.  I can’t wait for the day that the California Kid pulls on his pinstripes for his first appearance at Yankee Stadium.  

Farewell to former Yankees manager Dallas Green.  Green passed away yesterday at age 82.  He briefly managed the Yankees in 1989 (for 121 games) before being replaced by Bucky Dent.  Green was a great baseball guy and I remember him most as the manager of the Philadelphia Phillies when they won the World Series in 1980 (with images of Tug McGraw leaping in the air still fresh in my mind).  Green was Old School until the end.  May he rest in peace.

New strategy.  Before every game, give Greg Bird good news.  Prior to yesterday's game against the Philadelphia Phillies, manager Joe Girardi acknowledged that Greg Bird will be the starting first baseman for the Yankees on Opening Day (to the surprise of no one).  Gregory Paul Bird promptly proceeded to smash two homers, driving in five runs, in the Yankees' 7-3 win over the Phillies.  If Bird keeps playing like this, he's setting himself up to be a fan favorite!  

Masahiro Tanaka pitched another great game, shutting out the Phils for 5 1/3 innings.  But he did allow three hits...the nerve of him!  I got used to those perfect frames. I guess we'll just have to deal with a few hits now and then.  Seriously, I think Tanaka's primed for a tremendous year.  Tyler Wade started at short but went 0-for-3.  

The Yankees improved their record to 19-7.  

Jordan Montgomery gets the start on Thursday in Port Charlotte, FL against the Tampa Bay Rays.  A strong performance could very well place Montgomery in the thick of the competition for the final rotation spots.  

Congratulations to Team USA for their 8-0 victory over Team Puerto Rico in the WBC Final!  It was a great pitching performance by Marcus Stroman of the Toronto Blue Jays.  Not looking forward to facing that dude this year.

Credit:  Getty Images

Have a great Thursday!

This Day In New York Yankees History 3/23: Howard Spira Arrested

On this day in 1990 Howard Spira was arrested for extorting money from George Steinbrenner, the former Yankees owner. The Yankees owner paid Spira $40,000 in January to dig up dirt on outfielder Dave Winfield.