Saturday, April 1, 2017

TGP 2017 MLB Predictions: The Playoffs

All predicted winners will be BOLDED

AL Wild Card Round
Toronto Blue Jays vs. New York Yankees

NL Wild Card Round 
New York Mets vs. St. Louis Cardinals

American League Division Series 
Cleveland Indians vs. New York Yankees
Boston Red Sox vs. Houston Astros

National League Division Series 
Chicago Cubs vs. St. Louis Cardinals
Los Angeles Dodgers vs. Washington Nationals

American League Championship Series
Cleveland Indians vs. Boston Red Sox

National League Championship Series
Chicago Cubs vs. Washington Nationals

Congratulations to the Washington Nationals and the Cleveland Indians on their successful 2017 seasons that both resulted in winning their pennants. Now onto the World Series!

And tomorrow after the game… our World Series predictions!!!! Stay tuned for those!

The Red Sox are the best AL East Team…or are they?...

The 2017 MLB Season is nearly upon us.  The Yankees will take a break today and will then play ball for Game 1 of the new season tomorrow in St Petersburg, Florida against the Tampa Bay Rays.  Given that the Yankees have been in the Tampa/St Petersburg area since mid-February and many players live in the area, I guess this is the home-away-from-home opener.  A quick trip down I-275 and it’s game on!

All the predictions I’ve seen have the Boston Red Sox winning the American League Eastern Division and many have them in the World Series.  It was just a couple of seasons ago that the Red Sox finished dead last in the division with a 78-84 record but times have changed.  The Red Sox have been energized by a youth movement that started a few seasons ago.  GM Dave Dombrowski is not exactly the ‘stick to the farm system’ type as he routinely trades top prospects, including his best hitting and pitching prospects during the winter for starting pitcher Chris Sale.  But for now, the Red Sox are the class of the AL East and until proven otherwise, they appear to be the eventual division winner.

I thought I’d do a quick comparison of starter-to-starter to see how the Yankees stack up.  I’ll use the players that are expected to be on the Opening Day rosters so that rules out guys like David Price and Didi Gregorius who will open the season on the Disabled List. 

Joe Girardi versus John Farrell (Advantage: Even)

Farrell does not impress me and I felt that Torey Lovullo (now the Arizona Diamondbacks manager) did a better job during Farrell’s absence a couple of years ago.  I am already on record as not being a Joe Girardi fan so I’ll just place this one as even although you could argue a slight edge to Girardi.

Greg Bird versus Mitch Moreland (Advantage: Yankees)

Moreland is the veteran but I really like Greg Bird going into this season.  Clearly, he has substantially more upside than Moreland and by the end of the year, this could be no comparison. 

Starlin Castro versus Dustin Pedroia (Advantage: Red Sox)

Pedroia might not overwhelm you with his offensive numbers but he’ll hit for average and has the heart of a Lion.  Some guys are just “winners” and Pedroia is that type of player.  He’ll grind, he’ll keep chugging until he beats you.  It’s hard to put a value on that type of effort. 

Ronald Torreyes versus Xander Bogaerts (Advantage: Red Sox)

With Didi Gregorius, this would have been much closer although I’d probably still give a slight edge to Bogaerts.  Obviously, Torreyes is at best a backup utility player so this is really no comparison.

Chase Headley versus Pablo Sandoval (Advantage: Yankees)

A slight edge goes to Headley but this is really a matchup of two very disappointing players.  But so far, Sandoval has stunk worse than Headley.  A slimmed down Sandoval has a chance of making amends this season but his recent history indicates otherwise. 

Aaron Judge versus Mookie Betts (Advantage: Red Sox)

No offense to Judge but he hasn’t proven himself at the major league level…yet.  Meanwhile, Betts is one of the best players in the American League.  He might be the best player on Boston’s team.  Judge has the potential to close the gap but for now, an overwhelming edge to Betts.

Jacoby Ellsbury versus Jackie Bradley Jr (Advantage: Red Sox)

I really wish that Ellsbury was still the Red Sox center fielder so that he could block JBJ.  Boston was very wise to let Ellsbury walk to open the door for JBJ at Fenway Park.  I’d gladly trade Ellsbury back to Boston for a bucket of bolts (although that trade might be a little one-sided in our favor).

Brett Gardner versus Andrew Benintendi (Advantage: Yankees)

I’ll go with Gardner for experience alone if for no other reason.  Benintendi is going to be a star, but like Aaron Judge, he has to prove it.  By the end of the year, this could be overwhelmingly in favor of Benintendi but for now, the edge goes to Gardner.

Matt Holliday versus Hanley Ramirez (Advantage: Red Sox)

This could be a toss-up although I think the edge is slightly tilted toward Ramirez (better health record and stronger potential for high offensive numbers).  But Ramirez is no Big Papi, that's for sure.

Gary Sanchez versus Sandy Leon (Advantage: Yankees)

Nothing against Leon and he did seem to hit very well against the Yankees last year, but he’s not in the same class as Gary Sanchez.  It’s not even close. 

Masahiro Tanaka versus Rick Porcello (Advantage: Even)

If Chris Sale had been designated as Boston’s Opening Day pitcher, the slight edge would be his.  I like Tanaka better than Porcello but the latter is the reigning AL Cy Young Award winner (even if Justin Verlander should have won the award).  On the basis of Porcello’s excellent year last season, I’ll rate this one as even but my heart says Tanaka is the better pitcher.

Aroldis Chapman versus Craig Kimbrel (Advantage: Yankees)

There was a time when Kimbrel was the most dominant closer in baseball.  But today, he is not on the same level as the elite closers like Chapman or Kenley Jansen of the Los Angeles Dodgers.  He’s not even in the next tier anymore or if he is, it’s just barely.  I’ll have to give a strong edge to Chapman.  Chapman also has the better setup team in front of him.

CONCLUSION:  By category, under my rating system, it’s even (5-5-2) but overall you have to give the advantage to the Red Sox.  

Although the difference is not great, the Red Sox have the much deeper starting rotation.  My comparison doesn’t take into account what Chris Sale brings to the team or what David Price is capable of if he is able to return by May.  The back half of Boston’s rotation is superior to the Yankees.  Boston has some good bullpen arms with Tyler Thornburg and Carson Smith but both guys will begin the year on the DL.  So, bullpen to bullpen, in their respective entirety, is overwhelmingly in favor of the Yankees.  Boston has a good bench and Brock Holt (“Brockstar”) seems to bring his A game whenever he is on the field.  Former Yankee Chris Young is the Aaron Hicks for the Red Sox (or Aaron Hicks is the Chris Young for the Yankees) so it’s hard to get excited about either one.  Yanks have some thump with backup first baseman Chris Carter. 

I don’t think the Yankees are as far behind the Red Sox as the common perception (misperception?) is.  No doubt, the Yankees need serious upgrades in the starting rotation.  The upgrades could be internal if Michael Pineda plays to potential and the young pitchers like Luis Severino prove they are here to stay.  

This comparison shows me that if the young Yankees can perform, they can close the gap with Boston very quickly.  It’s a clear sign that we have much to be excited about in the next few years as the current top prospects start making their way to the Bronx and we unload some of the dead weight we have with Ellsbury, Gardner, and Headley.  Throw in Bryce Harper and/or Manny Machado after the 2019 season, and the Red Sox fans won’t be puffing their chests so much. 

While I believe the Red Sox could make it to the World Series, I think the more likely scenario is a return trip by the Cleveland Indians or a surprise team like Robinson Cano and the Seattle Mariners.  Until then, we’ll have to deal with the loud noise from the Red Sox Nation.  The joy is knowing that our day will come.

TGP 2017 MLB Predictions: Rookies of the Year

You guys and girls know me by now but if you don't then pay attention because I am about to give you a lesson. I love prospects. The prospect, no pun intended, of the future with these young guys just makes me want to be a fan not just for today and not just for tomorrow but for the foreseeable future as we all watch these guys grow. I can remember watching as the New York Yankees signed players like Gary Sanchez way back when and thinking something along the lines of "man I can't wait until he reaches the Major Leagues." Well fans of these two men are now in that situation where their favorite young guy is not only ready to reach the majors in 2017 but be the best rookie in all the land for a season. 

American League Rookie of the Year: Andrew Benintendi

I think if you poll 100 sports writers, bloggers or journalists I think at last 90 of them will choose Andrew Benintendi of the Boston Red Sox as their American League Rookie of the Year Award winner. Benintendi is the real deal and showed that in a short stint with the club last season. The future is now for the Red Sox and the future is no for Benintendi inside Fenway Park as much as the Yankee fan in me hates to admit this. 

National League Rookie of the Year: Tyler Glasnow

Glasnow is one of those names we have been hearing about for what feels like forever now but the time is finally now for the 23-year old right-hander. Glasnow is not a finished product by any means as he continues to struggle with command and his walks but despite those struggles he has still found a way to absolutely dominate the Pirates minor league system. Tall pitchers, and Glasnow is 6'8", tend to take a little longer to put it all together, see fellow 6'8" right-hander Dellin Betances for a recent and Yankees-related example of this, and Glasnow has had a strong spring leading many to believe that this year is the year that he will do so. 

TGP 2017 MLB Predictions: Managers of the Year

Some have argued that the actual impact and importance of a manager is as insignificant as it gets while others swear by the decision making of their favorite team's skipper. Those fans obviously have never had to deal with Joe Girardi and his magical all-knowing binder that has since turned into an iPad but regardless of whether the manger has a true impact or not the awards are given out every year so let's predict the winners. We can always have the debate of whether the manager actually has a bearing on the outcome of a game at another time, remind me. 

American League Manager of the Year: Terry Francona

I have real high hopes for the defending American League Champions this season because somehow I think the team is better than they were a year ago. Cleveland has a full season of Andrew Miller in their bullpen and they have added an absolute huge bat in Edwin Encarnacion to the middle of their lineup. All this should equate to more victories and more air time for the Indians and their manager. Plus, and not to say Francona is going to win it by default as he is an incredible manager, but no other managers really stand out to me aside from maybe AJ Hinch. Maybe. 

National League Manager of the Year: Bud Black

I truly believe the Colorado Rockies are going to be a force to be reckoned with in the National League West this season. I honestly wouldn't be surprised to see this team finish as high as second in the division and at least in the discussion for one of the final Wild Card spots in the league. For that reason I can see their manager Bud Black winning the National League Manager of the Year Award while Nolan Arenado, his third baseman, tears up the National League at the plate and in the field. 

The End of a Successful Spring...

No baseball today.  At least not Yankees baseball.  The exhibition season is over, and the team awaits its first regular season game tomorrow.

The final Grapefruit League was fun and not so fun.  The new SunTrust Park in Atlanta is a gorgeous stadium and it certainly ranks at or near the top of the new stadiums.  It is very impressive.

I know that it was still a spring game so stats mean nothing but Greg Bird had the honor of delivering the first home run in the new park.  Someone else will have the courtesy of hitting the first regular season home run there but Bird has the distinction of the first home run period.

The game itself didn’t go so good.  The Atlanta Braves had the courtesy of picking up the first win ever at the new ballpark.  I have been excited about Jonathan Holder and the announcement that he had made the final roster but he was on the mound when the Braves scored the 6th inning runs to break a tie, giving them the cushion they needed for the win.  The runs were caused by an error so Holder wasn’t charged with any earned runs but it was still a disappointing way to end spring training.

After the game, Manager Joe Girardi said the Yankees can be really good if the veterans do their job.  That’s funny.  For a change, it’s not the kids who need to step up but rather the vets.  It’s disappointing knowing that Jacoby Ellsbury and others are holding us back.  I say that in jest (well, not the Ellsbury part) but it’s a great testament to the job that the young guys like Bird and Gary Sanchez have done this Spring.

Against Atlanta, the vets did not fare well.  Brett Gardner, Matt Holliday, Jacoby Ellsbury, Starlin Castro, and Chase Headley all went 0-for-2.  One bright spot was Chris Carter doing what he is supposed to do, delivering a pinch hit home run.  If he does that a few times at Yankee Stadium to win games, he’s going to be a popular guy even if he can’t otherwise hit or field.

Michael Pineda finishes the Spring schedule with a 4.32 ERA.  He went 5 innings against the Braves, allowing six hits and three runs.  He walked a batter and struck out six.  He allowed a home run to Freddie Freeman but it’s hard to blame Pineda.  Freeman is going to do that to a number of pitchers this year.

The Yankees lost the game, 8-5, and finished the Spring at 24-9-1.  They won the Grapefruit League by 1 ½ games over the St Louis Cardinals, and they had a better record than the Cactus League champion Los Angeles Angels.  It was Spring and the records mean nothing but here’s hoping that it is a springboard to a happy and successful 2017 season for the Pinstripers. 

Have a great Saturday!

TGP 2017 MLB Predictions: The Division Winners

Ladies and gentleman it’s the calm before the storm and the weekend before the 2017 MLB regular season kicks off. Sunday the New York Yankees will take their new right fielder Aaron Judge and their new first baseman Greg Bird and their new catcher Gary Sanchez and the rest of the baby bombers down to Tampa to begin a series with the Tampa Bay Rays inside Tropicana Field. Before the games actually count and mean something though I wanted to take a second to make my yearly predictions for the different awards, division winners and playoff contenders this year. We all know how well my predictions go so let’s just get the embarrassment over with, shall we?

American League:
AL East: Boston Red Sox
AL Central: Cleveland Indians
AL West: Houston Astros
Wild Card #1: Toronto Blue Jays
Wild Card #2: New York Yankees (homer alert)

National League:
NL East: Washington Nationals
NL Central: Chicago Cubs
NL West: Los Angeles Dodgers
Wild Card #1: New York Mets

Wild Card #2: St. Louis Cardinals

So it Seems 2017 Will Be My Last Here

Yes ladies and gentleman, it's true. I'm sure you guys kind of already saw it coming with my recent prolonged absences but I really just can't do this anymore. My life is so damn busy right now and the older my children get and the more my life changes, in the very best possible way mind you, the less and less time I am going to have for this blog. You all deserve better that and you don't deserve to come on here and not know whether I am going to have the time or the inclination to write that day. I'm done guys but instead of just leaving you high and dry I am going to go on my farewell tour much like many MLB players do these days.

Feel free to send your farewell tour gifts to me at or by shooting us a tweet on Twitter by following @GreedyStripes. Let's make this the best season yet and let's root this team all the way to the World Series one last time in the TGP era. Go Yankees and go TGP because we will never die, we're just going to be taking a prolonged rest after this season.

Oh and Happy April Fools Day everyone. Enjoy your Saturday and your new adventures in this thing we call life... together.

This Day in New York Yankees History 4/1: No News is Good News So They Say

You know what they say, no news is good news. I don’t see how that is grammatically possible because how can nothing be something, you know? Anyway I digress, apparently nothing of note happened on this day in Yankees history so you get the day off from your "learnings."