Wednesday, March 29, 2017

Quick Hit: What About Joe Nathan?

The New York Yankees are in search of bullpen help this season and there is no such thing as a bad minor league deal so it begs the question…. Should the New York Yankees offer one of these minor league deals to 42-year old Joe Nathan? I mean, maybe.

I have said it a million times and I’ll say it another million and one times if I have to, there is no such thing as a bad minor league deal. There’s no team crazy enough or desperate enough to hand Nathan a job right now attached to a guaranteed contract so if he is going to accept a minor league deal regardless why not make that deal come from the Yankees? If he doesn’t recover or never makes it back to the Major Leagues the Yankees are out pennies in the grand scheme of things and a month or two of a roster spot that could have went elsewhere but if he comes back and is even a shell of his former self the Yankees could have an absolutely deep back-end of their bullpen.

The Washington Nationals recently released the 42-year old Nathan after just 6.1 innings pitched last season with the Chicago Cubs and the San Francisco Giants. Nathan is recovering from a second Tommy John surgery in his right elbow and posted a 2-0 record with a 0.00 ERA in those innings last season.

Nathan ranks eighth all-time in career saves and is the leader among active players in the category with 377 career saves. Extend the offer and see if he bites. Worst thing he can say is no, right?

Goodnight Yankees family. 

Quick Hit: The 2017 WPIX Channel 11 TV Schedule

The New York Yankees will return to WPIX Channel 11 once again this season when they aren’t on the YES Network for another 21 games in 2017. Here is the 21 game schedule for the Yankees on WPIX as they return to the channel for the third season. It’s worth mentioning that PIX11 will also produce pre-game specials for each primetime Yankees game this season which should be fun.

The YES Network’s Michael Kay, David Cone, John Flaherty, Al Leiter, Meredith Marakovits, Paul O’Neill, Ken Singleton and Ryan Ruocco will cover the games for PIX11 this season. 

And the 2017 “Stephen Drew Sucks” Award Goes To….

Every single season there seems to be this one player that Yankees manager Joe Girardi loves no matter how terrible he does. To name a few from years past, in no particular order, we have suffered through Andruw Jones every day in center field, Sergio Mitre far too often in the rotation and in the bullpen, Stephen Drew stinking up the joint for multiple seasons at second base and most recently Chase Headley at third base in 2017. So who will win the now aptly named “Stephen Drew Sucks” Award from us here at The Greedy Pinstripes?

I have a feeling that we will be saying “Jacoby Ellsbury Sucks” a whole lot this season. Now I have to admit that this is all contingent on the health of Ellsbury, which is never a guarantee, and I also have to admit that I have been one of Ellsbury’s biggest fans since his signing but enough is enough. The guy is a speed demon that refuses to steal bases. The guy is a leadoff type hitter that seems more worried about getting a catcher’s interference call than roping a single over the infielder’s heads and getting on base. Ellsbury just seems to be on cruise control after signing that mega seven-year deal worth $153 million and it makes me sick to even think about it.

I know some don’t like these awards and they don’t like the constant “Stephen Drew Sucks” tweets after every out he made at the plate or every error he made in the field but that’s just me being a fan. Just because I’m a fan with a blog doesn’t mean I am not a fan first and cannot express my fandom in a way that I deem fit. Stephen Drew did suck and Jacoby Ellsbury does too so why should I be made to feel bad for saying so just because I am on a platform or held to a higher standard or whatever. I don’t put myself on that platform and I don’t hold myself to a higher standard. I’ll get down and talk baseball with anyone, anytime, anywhere. I’ve always been big on putting the social aspect back in social media and I try to acknowledge and respond to every tweet and comment we get in some way, shape or form unlike those other publications.

So yeah, before I get too far off topic here as I like to ramble from time to time, it’s going to be a long season for Jacoby here at TGP. Fair warning and there’s only one way (well two or three ways I guess as he could get injured or traded) to reverse the Stephen Drew Sucks curse…. By performing! Good luck Jacoby, I’m truly rooting for you. 

Key Dates to Look Forward to in 2017

Opening Day 2017 happens on Sunday, April 2nd when the New York Yankees take on the Tampa Bay Rays inside Tropicana Field in Tampa St. Pete. The 2017 season has a lot of key dates and games this season so I wanted to go over a few and hit the high spots as we prepare for the 2017 regular season to begin. This post is worth keeping bookmarked just in case.

On the same day the Yankees and Rays kick off the 2017 season the Chicago Cubs begin their World Series title defense against the St. Louis Cardinals. Manning center field for those Cardinals? None other than the center fielder who was on the field when the Cubs won their World Series and reversed the curse of the billy goat, Dexter Fowler. That should be fun.

Sunday, May 14th is Derek Jeter Day in the Bronx as the New York Yankees play host to the Houston Astros inside Yankee Stadium. Before the game the Yankees will unveil a plaque in Monument Park for Jeter while also retiring his #2 jersey on Mother’s Day. That’s a game you definitely do not want to miss.

The All-Star Game is played on Tuesday, July 11 inside Marlins Park in Miami. This will be the first time that the Marlins host the All-Star Game in their 25 season existence so that should be fun as should the Home Run Derby that happens the night before. Giancarlo Stanton sighting anyone?

On Sunday, July 30 we will watch as Hall of Fame inductees Jeff Bagwell, Tim Raines and Ivan “Pudge” Rodriguez get inducted officially into the Hall along with former Commissioner Bud Selig and former Royals and Braves executive John Schuerholz.

The non-waiver trading deadline returns to July 31st this season after last year the deadline occurred on August 1st. The revocable trade waiver deadline is still August 31st, as always.

The final game of the season happens, barring any need for tiebreaker games and such, on October 1st.

Patience, Young Grasshopper…

Credit:  AP

I admit that I am the old guy on this site.  I grew up in the era when George Steinbrenner was King.  If you wanted the best baseball player, you went and bought him.  The impulsive side of me loved those days.  Who didn’t want an All-Star at every position?  But there was a price to be paid. 

I loved Billy Martin as Yankees manager.  I was excited with every hiring and devastated with every firing.  Managers, General Managers, and Pitching Coaches seemed to change more often than Lady Gaga’s outfits and hairstyles.  Maybe I’ve always been able to adapt well to change because that was my childhood.  There were no constants in New York other than The Boss ruled supreme. 

I became a Yankees fan on December 31, 1974.  It’s a day that I’ll never forget.  I had grown up rooting for the Oakland A’s and their collection of characters.  My favorite pitcher was Jim “Catfish” Hunter.  The earliest books I remember reading were about baseball.  I think the very first biography I read was about Ty Cobb, but it was a subsequent biography I encountered about the legendary Lou Gehrig that laid the foundation for a lifetime of Pinstripe Passion.  So, it seemed meant to be when Catfish Hunter became a free agent and signed with the Yankees on New Year’s Eve, 1974.  That day, I went with him to New York and I’ve never looked back.

When the Yankees took the field on April 8, 1975, they were my team.  Looking back at the Opening Day lineup, it seems so long ago:

2B-Sandy Alomar
LF-Lou Piniella
CF-Bobby Bonds
RF-Ron Blomberg
3B-Graig Nettles
DH-Ed Herrmann
1B-Chris Chambliss
C-Thurman Munson
SS-Jim Mason

SP-Doc Medich

The Yankees lost that day, 5-3 to the Cleveland Indians.  They finished third for the year with a record of 83-77, 12 games behind the Boston Red Sox.  By the end of the season, Billy Martin had taken over as the Yankees manager (for his first time).  It was a great time to be a Yankees fan and you could sense that something bigger was developing after a decade of apathy under CBS ownership.  By this time, Steinbrenner had owned the Yankees for a couple of years but his influence was starting to grow.  I’ve always loved the quote by then Yankees minority owner (and later Houston Astros owner) John McMullen when he said “There is nothing in life quite so limited as being a limited partner of George Steinbrenner”. 

However, the Yankees desire to field the best collection of players came at a heavy cost.  It was hard to watch a talented young pitcher named Doug Drabek get traded to the Pittsburgh in 1986 (for Rick Rhoden) and later win the NL Cy Young Award for the Pirates.  It was hard to watch young slugger Jay Buhner crush minor league pitching, only to get traded to the Seattle Mariners for a long and productive career (for the forgettable Ken Phelps).   It was hard to watch Fred “Crime Dog” McGriff get traded to the Toronto Blue Jays for a marginal reliever named Dale Murray.  I loved when Al Leiter first came up.  There were growing pains associated with a young starter, but you could tell that he was going to be a good one.  Yet, he ended up getting sent away to Toronto for Jesse Barfield.  Leiter would go on to win three World Series championships with other clubs.

This list goes on and on, but it is very difficult to get excited about young prospects, only to watch them flourish in other organizations. 

I’ve read the blog comments that the Yankees need to get creative.  I couldn’t agree more.  A few years ago, the Boston Red Sox looked like they were saddled with age and bad contracts.  Then, in one trade late in the 2012 season, they eliminated the contracts of Adrian Gonzalez, Josh Beckett, and Carl Crawford.  It doesn’t really matter what they got in return.  The trade freed valuable dollars and put the Red Sox on the path they are on today with one of the better teams in baseball.  When they needed a frontline ace (Chris Sale), they traded their best hitting prospect, Yoan Moncada, perhaps the best prospect in all of baseball, and their best pitching prospect, Michael Kopech, who looks to be a future ace.  Time will tell if this move backfires, but they are doing something. 

I want to win now.  But the realist in me recognizes that it is not yet our time.  The moves today must set up the team for success in 2018 and 2019.  There can be no short-sighted moves.  Many teams load up for the chance at single championships.  If the Yankees play their cards right, it could set the team up for another multiple run.  We may never see a run like the 90’s (or 50’s) again, but try telling the New England Patriots that parity has been achieved in the NFL. 

I am in favor of making the necessary (and creative) moves necessary to build sustained success.  But for the quick fix?  Those days are behind me.

The Tampa Bay Rays & Rob Refsnyder

The New York Yankees floated around the idea of trading infielder and utility player Robert Refsnyder this offseason but then Didi Gregorius got hurt leaving many to speculate that those trade talks would all but take a back seat for now. Well apparently that speculation and about $15 will get you a beer at Yankee Stadium because reportedly the organization is still looking to trade Refsnyder and they may have found an interested party in the Tampa Bay Rays.

According to the Tampa Bay Times reporter Marc Tompkin the Tampa Bay Rays are looking to add a cheap, young and controllable right-handed bat and the team has their eye on Refsnyder as that possible bat going forward. The Yankees still may want to move Refsnyder as he may or may not even have a spot on the team right now. With Gregorius out the Yankees could easily find at-bats and playing time for him but they could also give that playing time to one of Pete Kozma, Ronald Torreyes, Tyler Wade, Ji-Man Choi, Donovan Solano or others not named Gleyber Torres. To move Refsnyder still makes sense on paper and it would also create a 40 man roster spot for someone like Jordan Montgomery if he ends up winning the 4th or 5th starting rotation spots this spring.

In the report Tompkin states that the Rays are looking for not only a right-handed bat but specifically a shortstop or an outfielder. While Refsnyder has not played shortstop in his minor league or major league career he does have some experience in both right field and left field and he also brings that versatility that Tampa just absolutely loves on defense. Refsnyder’s line-drive hitting and professional approach at the plate would fit in well with any team but would especially fit in with a team like Tampa Bay who needs any and all protection around Evan Longoria if they want to compete whatsoever this season.

It is worth mentioning I think that both the Rays and the Yankees are said to be interested in the Arizona Diamondbacks shortstop Nick Ahmed so maybe a three-team trade could be worked out? Who knows… I guess you will just have to stay tuned to find out. 

Random Thoughts...

A few quick thoughts on Hump Day…

Joe Girardi wants Gary Sanchez to bat second in the lineup.

Say what?  Maybe it’s just me but I think the Yankees are better served by placing Sanchez in the third or fourth spot in the lineup.  I could even buy into fifth, but second?  Girardi must have a lot of faith in the bottom of the order.  Otherwise, it sounds like Sanchez is going to have to count on his own feet for runs batted in.  Seems like a waste for a multi-base hitter like Sanchez.

And Jacoby Ellsbury might bat fifth?  What, was Siberia out of the question?...

Adam Warren, sit down.

Adam Warren has been told by the Yankees that he is slated for bullpen duty, thereby, knocking him out of the competition for the rotation.  So, that means we are down to Luis Severino, Bryan Mitchell, Chad Green and Jordan Montgomery.  No surprise, but glad to see Girardi is reducing the competition.  I've felt all along that Warren's greatest value is as the designated swingman.  

Jon “Arnold Schwarzenegger” Niese.

"I’ll be back…"

As expected, Niese has re-signed a minor league deal to remain in the Yankees organization.  This will allow Niese more time to regain fastball velocity and eventually snag a role in the crowded Yankees bullpen if he is successful.  Or he could represent rotation insurance.  If not, it was a low risk signing.

He’s just a Rookie.

Congratulations to former Yankee Rookie Davis.  Traded to the Cincinnati Reds in the Aroldis Chapman deal, the tall young right-hander has made the Reds starting rotation.  Davis spent most of last year in AA, with some time logged at the AAA level.  I wish him much success in the Show!  He has a chance to be the Rookie of the Year although I am sure his mom has been giving him that award every year since birth.

Dustin time...well, maybe not.

Former Yankee Dustin Ackley failed to make the Opening Day roster for the Los Angeles Angels and will head to AAA.  Baseball has been a tough sport for the one-time second overall draft pick.

Another Rule 5 Returnee.

While I am still waiting to see if C Luis Torrens (Padres) or Tyler Webb (Pirates) come back, the Chicago Cubs returned another left-hander to the Yankees.  Caleb Smith, 25, saw limited action this Spring (6 1/3 innings, 8 hits, 3 earned runs, 2 walks, and 7 strikeouts).  Presumably, he’ll head for AAA Scranton/Wilkes-Barre.  I guess you can never have too many lefties…

Future Yankees Captain?

As the new face of the Yankees, could Gary Sanchez be named as Captain at some point in the future?  Although he uses an interpreter with the media, he has learned English and is able to converse with his pitchers.  He the leader of the new Core and should continue to expand his influence on the team as he moves forward.  If no Captain is named over the next couple of years, I could see Gleyber Torres eventually in consideration.  But at this point, there’s no question this is Gary’s team.

All Good Things Must End…

Masahiro Tanaka’s Spring scoreless streak ended with yesterday’s 6-3 loss to the Detroit Tigers.  Tanaka allowed two runs (one earned) in the first inning before settling down to allow no more runs through five innings of work.  He gave up three hits and two walks, while striking out six.  He finishes the Spring with a 0.38 ERA.  I think he’s ready (in a statement of the obvious). 

Aaron Judge hit a long solo homer in the 7th inning.

Ernesto Frieri gave up two runs and now has a 9.00 ERA through four innings of Spring work.  I doubt he makes the Opening Day roster and will most likely take the Jon Niese route to the minor leagues for extended spring training.

Jordan Montgomery takes the mound for the Yankees (22-8-1) today in his final Spring performance and long-shot bid for the starting rotation.  The Yankees will be at Florida Auto Exchange Stadium in Dunedin, FL to face the Toronto Blue Jays.  Here’s hoping that Montgomery gives Joe Girardi an offer he can’t refuse.

Have a great day!

So it Seems a Jumpstart is Needed

So it seems a jump start is needed and in order. What is a jump start? Well while this may be a bit of Kode this is also Yankees related if you think about it. A jump start is something needed to induce change. Need a new car but you don't know if you want a new car or a new to you car? Well wrecking that car and putting it in a ditch tends to jump start your decision on your next car purchase, doesn't it? This happens in life and it happens with this team as well.

The jump start finally happened last year when Brian Cashman traded away relievers Andrew Miller and Aroldis Chapman as well as starter Ivan Nova and it continued with the Carlos Beltran trade last season and the Brian McCann trade from this winter. The jump start has happened and the youth movement is in full effect.

The jump start has started and it will happen. Just be patient.

This Day In New York Yankees History 3/29: The Yankees 9/11 Tribute

On this day in 2009 the Evil Empire struck again as they placed a permanent September 11 memorial at the entrance of George M. Steinbrenner Field, the Yankees Spring Training home in Tampa, Florida. The tribute showcased a foundation in the shape of the Pentagon that supported two towers made from steel from the World Trade Center that was placed on a grassy spot representing where United Flight 93 was hijacked and flown into the Earth in Pennsylvania. The Red Sox did nothing.

Also on this day in 1975 the Yankees released Mel Stottlemyre after he tore his rotator cuff. Mel finished with a 164-139 record and a 2.97 ERA with 40 shutouts before he became New York's pitching coach.

Finally on this day in 1948 the New York Yankees and the Boston Red Sox played an exceptionally long exhibition game that went 17 innings, unheard of nowadays. The game still ended in a 2-2 tie in a four hour and two minute game. The Yankees scored a run in each of the bottom of the ninth and tenth innings to keep the game tied and moving along. New York had the winning run at third base in the bottom of the 17th inning but Frank Crosetti attempted a bunt to squeeze the runner home and failed.

2017 AL Central Predictions

The American League Central is the division that has represented the American League in each of the previous three World Series. In all three instances, the formula was nearly identical: strong starting staff, a lights-out bullpen and a plethora of young talent. It seems as though Cleveland is the class of the division and doesn't seem to be going anywhere anytime soon. But, Kansas City has one last shot with their championship core before several important contracts expire. And, if they don't sell off, Detroit looks ready to compete for their own shot at the crown. Who will be the last team standing? It's 2017 Predictions, AL Central style.

5. Minnesota Twins
In the championship formula mentioned above, the first piece of that puzzle was a strong starting pitching staff. Such is not the case in the Twin Cities. Ervin Santana is the ace of the staff and is known more for his PED suspension then for his frisbee of a slider, and would hardly qualify as a staff ace on any other team in this division. Behind Santana in the rotation is: former Yankee Phil Hughes - who still has yet to figure it out, Tyler Duffy - one of the only young bright spots in this rotation, and little known youngsters Kyle Gibson and Jose Berrios. The Twins do have an excellent closer in the form of All-Star left-hander Glen Perkins, but outside of that, not much else to speak of. Offensively, they have the best power-hitting second baseman in the game, team captain Brian Dozier.  But, they lost Dozier's power-hitting pal Trevor Plouffe to the A's this winter. Between Plouffe's departure and last season's trade deadline sale of 3B/SS Eduardo Nunez to San Francisco, Minnesota will now look to rookie Jorge Polanco to man the hot corner at Target Field this season. The Twins outfield has some definite rising stars in the forms of Miguel Sano, Max Kepler and Byron Buxton. However, their overall team inexperience and lack of talent will be the major contributing factors as to their taking last in the Central division in 2017. 

4. Chicago White Sox 
I don't believe there is anyone that took the retooling model that Yankees GM Brian Cashman laid out during last year's trade deadline any more seriously than Chicago's Vice President of Baseball Operations Kenny Williams did. This winter, Williams used Cashman's blueprint to acquire the game's top positional prospect Yohan Moncado and four other players in a trade with the Red Sox for superstar lefty Chris Sale. Days later, Williams then pulled the "magic act" of the off-season by moving centerfielder Adam Eaton to Washington for the Nats two top pitching prospects, Lucas Giolito(No. 1 pitching prospect in MLB) and Ronaldo Lopez. The VP has several other players that he and the White Sox could receive massive returns for, including Todd Frazier, Jose Quintana, David Robertson and possibly even Jose Abreu. If no other moves are actually made, this roster still has plenty of talent to compete in the division. On the infield to go along with Frazier and Abreu, the White Sox have another one of these young budding star shortstops, Tim Anderson, from whom they expect big things and whom they just inked to a long contract extension. Along with Quintana, the Sox have the electric Carlos Rodon, and seasoned veterans James Shields and Derek Holland. Additionally, Nate Jones is a young, effective bridge to the closer Robertson. But alas, I do believe they will sell throughout the season and at the trade deadline, leading them to collect the fourth spot in the division. 

3. Detroit Tigers
This team may have been the most difficult to predict in all of the American League due to the off-season rumblings that they were going to be "sellers" rather than looking to improve their roster, which was evident by their lack of any major additions this winter. They're starting rotation is one of the stronger in the league, with such players as 2016 Cy Young Award candidate Justin Verlander, Jordan Zimmerman and the '16 Rookie of the Year winner Michael Fulmer. Their batting order is sparked at the top by the seemingly perennial All-Star Ian Kinsler. Not to mention, Detroit has one of the most daunting middle of the lineups in the game, with future Hall of Famer Miguel Cabrera, the ageless wonder Victor Martinez and the heavy hitting J.D. Martinez and Justin Upton. And with Francisco Rodriguez at the backend of the bullpen, teams will have to certainly put some distance between themselves and the Tigers in order to pull out a victory on a nightly basis. But, The start they get off to will be vital to determine whether or not they will be selling off at the trade deadline. And I believe that they, in fact, will be sellers at the deadline. Just leaving them a little short come playoff time.

2. Kansas City Royals
The 2015 World Series champs are not quite the playoff powerhouse they once were. At season's end, four of the Royals major contributors to their '15 title team will become free agents, including superstar first baseman Eric Hosmer, shortstop Alcedes Escobar, third baseman Mike Moustakas and centerfielder Lorenzo Cain. When you have that many players in the contract year, you typically can assume that all of them will be playing their respective butts off for that next big contract.  Which could beg the question why would they be finishing second? Well, tragically the Royals lost their ace Yordanno Ventura in a horrific car accident this winter, and don't really have anyone to replace him at the top of the rotation. Team USA pitcher Danny Duffy will do his absolute best to try to fill the void, but such a task is by no means easy. Kansas City shipped off back up centerfielder and speed threat Jarrod Dyson to Seattle for starting pitcher Nathan Karnes. They also have former Yankee Ian Kennedy, Chris Young, Dillon Gee and free agent signee Jason Hammol to round out their staff. Another big move the Royals made this winter was moving all star closer Wade Davis to the Chicago Cubs for the powerful bat of Jorge Soler. In order to fill the void left by the departure of Davis and former closer Greg Holland, the Royals signed their old ninth inning man, Joakim Soria. Whether it be playing for a new contract or playing for a fallen teammate, it should be another really good year of quality baseball in Kansas City this season.

1. Cleveland Indians
Now I know that I picked them to finish fourth in the division a season ago, but I am absolutely drinking the Kool-Aid served up in Rock City this season. For starters, Cleveland added maybe the biggest bat to their already loaded lineup when they signed free agent slugger Edwin Encarnacion. The Tribe also get Michael Brantley back from a 2016 season-long injury, which is like signing the second best bat available and not having to pay any extra money for it. These two jump in the middle of a batting order that includes All-Stars Jason Kipnis and Fransisco Lindor, much improved Jose Ramirez and a guy that could vry well win a batting title some day in Carlos Santana. On the other side of the field, the Indians possess one of the strongest rotations in all of baseball, including Cy Young runner up Corey Kluber, rising stars Danny Salazar and Carlos Carrasco, Josh Tomlin, and a guy who had one of the gutsiest playoff performances in recent memory, Trevor Bauer. Terry Francona may have started a movement in the bullpen game with his use of Andrew Miller in the 2016 postseason; a relief "ace" that can be deployed at any time during the course of a game to bail you out of a jam whenever you need it. And when you mix in quality arms like Boone Logan, Brian Shaw and Zach McAllister to get to their outstanding closer Cody Allen, you have a team headed for a deep run in October.

Bring on the belly-aching.