Friday, April 14, 2017

Tanaka, Castro Lead New York to Game 1 Win Over St. Louis, 4-3

On a brisk night in the Bronx, the Yankees welcomed the St. Louis Cardinals into town for a three-game weekend interleague set. Masahiro Tanaka pitched for New York and recorded his best outing of 2017, pitching into the seventh en route to his first win of the year. On the mound for St. Louis was Michael Wacha; who pitched well for the Cards tonight, but was bitten by the longball one too many times which ultimately led to his and his team's demise.

Tanaka struggled early, giving up the lead in the top of the first inning. 2016 All-Star shortstop Aledmys Diaz got it going with a one out infield single. The next batter Matt Carpenter unloaded on a "hanging" fastball by Tanaka to the tune of a 400+ft homerun to right field that gave the Cardinals an early two run lead.

But the Yankees were quick to respond as they came back to tie the game in the bottom of the first. Brett Gardner started off the inning with a four-pitch walk and scored when the next batter Starlin Castro crushed a two run homer to right center field that tied the game at two apiece. And the  longball bit Wacha again in the bottom of the second where Austin Romine ripped an opposite field solo shot that put the Yankees up by a 3-2 score.

New York kept the offensive pressure on as a key hit and a key error led to the Yankees tacking on an important insurance run in the bottom of the fourth. Tonight marked the first time in the career of Jacoby Ellsbury that he hit fourth in the lineup. And the managerial decision paid dividends as Ellsbury got things going with his second hit of the night: a one-out opposite field single. And not that a multi-hit night isn't impressive, but it was Ellsbury's speed that was crucial, as the next batter Chase Headley smoked a ball down the right-field line all the way to the wall. Ellsbury was held up at third by third base coach Joe Espada, but the relay throw from Kolton Wong got away from the catcher Yadier Molina; allowing Ellsbury to dart home and score to extend their lead out to two.

The Cardinals got one of those runs back in the top of the seventh as they knocked Tanaka out of the game. Matt Adams started off the frame with a single, but was thrown out at second on a fielder's choice by Yadier Molina. After a Jhonny Peralta walk advanced Molina to second, Randall Grichuk smoked a double to left that scored Molina to pull St. Louis to within one. Tanaka was then lifted for Tyler Clippard, who got out of the mess by getting Dexter Fowler to fly out to right field. Tanaka pitched much better tonight than in his previous two outings, departing with a final line of 6.1 innings pitched, allowing three runs on five hit with two walks and five strikeouts.

The trio of Clippard, Betances and Chapman(or as I like to call them - the CBC or Center for Baseball Control) pitched lights-out baseball tonight; combining to allow just two hits while striking out four en route to their game one win. And because Chapman and Betances were used last night as well, they will be unavailable for tomorrow's game.

Game two tomorrow will be much more of a challenge as the Yankees square off against the Cardinals ace Carlos Martinez. First pitch is scheduled for 1:05 PM/EST and can be seen on the YES Network and MLB.TV.

Game Thread: New York Yankees vs. St. Louis Cardinals 4/14

Game time ladies and gentleman between the New York Yankees and the St. Louis Cardinals as these two historic teams begin a three-game weekend set in the Bronx. The Yankees will send their ace Masahiro Tanaka to the mound tonight looking to turn around his dreadful season to date, it’s still early Yankees family, while the St. Louis Cardinals will counter with Michael Wacha. The game will be played at 7:05 pm ET inside Yankee Stadium and can be seen on the YES Network, MLB Network and MLB TV while you can also listen on the radio with WFAN.

Root for the Yankees alongside us all season long by giving our Twitter account @GreedyStripes a follow. Thanks and Go Yankees! As always.

James Kaprielian Elbow Injury Update

UPDATE: Tommy John surgery it is. Damn. Kaprielian will miss the entire 2017 season.

We reported earlier this week that the New York Yankees top pitching prospect James Kaprielian would be heading to see a doctor regarding elbow discomfort and pain for the second consecutive season and this week Yankees GM Brian Cashman gave us an update. Here is the update on Kaprielian the best I can bring it to you with baited breath.

All signs point to elbow surgery unfortunately which likely means another year of development for Kaprielian will be down the drain. No word yet on what kind of surgery, to the best of my knowledge he has not seen a Tommy John specialist as of the time of this writing but that information isn’t always readily available either, but it’s going to involve his pitching elbow and his elbow flexor so it’s not good news whatsoever regardless of where the surgery is going to occur.

Kaprielian pitched well in the Arizona Fall League last year and pitched well during spring training this season including a two-inning appearance against the Toronto Blue Jays where he struck out three without allowing a run but the elbow has once again started acting up. Kaprielian seemed healthy all winter and spring long so the Yankees organization is clearly puzzled by the reoccurrence so stay tuned to see what’s wrong and what surgery the righty is likely to take. We’ll have it here for you.

Also to the person who emailed me directly and called him “Ty Hensley 2.0” please stop. Just stop. Thanks.

Yankees “Hot or Not” After Three Series

There are many variations of this game all over the web I’m sure under catchy little names and such but I am a simple guy and I don’t have time for that. I like to keep it simple so here we go with “Hot or Not” the New York Yankees edition. Please remember that sample sizes will play a huge factor into this and this takes into account just the handful of games we have seen thus far and is not an indicator of future performances. Disclaimers and such. And such.  

Aaron Judge is hot right now, so hot. Judge has hit three home runs already this season at the time of this writing and has more RBI than he does strikeouts, which is an accomplishment for him. It’s a huge step forward not only in his development but in his confidence as well.  

For every huge Yankees prospect that is doing well we seem to have one that isn’t doing so great and no Yankees prospect is bigger than Gary Sanchez right now, figuratively speaking of course. Sanchez’s season did not start out as planned this season and a strained biceps muscle that will keep him out at least a month didn’t help but Sanchez, like our next “not” player, is one player I just don’t worry about after two weeks of games. Not yet anyway.  

Masahiro Tanaka unfortunately is not, he’s not. Tanaka is now having to field questions about his potential opt-out this offseason being a distraction or not just two starts into the season. The New York media is a freaking circus, always has been and always will be. 

Speaking of pitching CC Sabathia has been great thus far this season, he’s hot. In what could be his final season in pinstripes the big lefty has posted a 1-0 record in two starts with a 1.64 ERA allowing just two runs in 11 innings pitched. Sabathia is also hitting the mid-90’s with his fastball which shows me his knee feels just fine right now. 

Chase Headley, yes not a typo, is hot. Through the Yankees first seven games he was the Yankees most productive hitter and if Aaron Judge ever slows down he may be the Yankees most productive hitter in another seven games. Chase Headley, this is as much exaggeration as it is a typo, has as many hits and home runs thus far this season than he had in the first half of the 2016 season. 

Greg Bird had a monster spring where he just hit bomb after bomb after bomb but that has not translated as of yet to the 2017 season, he’s not. In his defense his ankle has been bothering him and when you have lower half injuries it can affect your hitting but he is making Stephen Drew look like a Hall of Fame hitter right now. This will change, I know that, but I just wish it would change now rather than later.

Game Preview: New York Yankees vs. St. Louis Cardinals 4/14

This is always a classic matchup, isn’t it? Tonight the team with the two most World Series Championships in the history of the sport begin a three-game weekend set in the Bronx with a trio of interesting pitching matchups. In the opener tonight inside Yankee Stadium the Yankees will send Masahiro Tanaka to the mound looking to rebound from a slow start to the 2017 season while the Cardinals will counter with Michael Wacha who was once thought of as one of the best young up-and-coming pitchers in the league.

Tanaka has been disappointing thus far this season for New York but as I said earlier in the week he is the absolute least of my worries on the mound for the Yankees. Tanaka lasted just 2.2 innings on Opening Day and lasted just five innings in his last start with the Baltimore Orioles walking four and hitting two in another Yankees loss. The Yankees need a much better Tanaka tonight if they are going to beat Wacha and the Cards.

Wacha has battled shoulder injuries over the past three seasons but seems to finally be back and healthy for the Cardinals in 2017. Wacha threw 83 pitches in his last start which lasted eight innings. Wacha gave up just one run in the contest and seemed to have a great control for his fastball and changeup which he lives and dies by on most nights.

The game will be played at 7:05 pm ET inside Yankee Stadium and can be seen on the YES Network, MLB Network and MLB TV. The game can also be followed along with on the radio with WFAN and John Sterling and Suzyn Waldman. Enjoy the game tonight and as always, Go Yankees!!

Do You Have Prince Albert In A Can?...

Credit:  Zach Bland/Charleston RiverDogs

With the news that James Kaprielian has elected Tommy John surgery, it is already being speculated that Albert Abreu moves to the top of the chart for right-handed prospects in the Yankees organization.  At only 21 years of age, he is further away from the Major Leagues than Kaprielian is (was) and his status of the top righty would cause him to leap-frog over the more seasoned Chance Adams (and possibly Domingo Acevedo depending upon what prospect list you are looking at). 

While I have high hopes for Chance Adams, I’ve been very intrigued by Abreu since he was acquired, along with pitcher Jorge Guzman, from the Houston Astros last November in the Brian McCann trade.  At the time of the trade, I felt the Yankees did an outstanding job with their return for a player who longer fit.  At the time of the trade, the only teams that you consistently heard connected to McCann were the Astros and his former team, the Atlanta Braves.  It felt like a buyer’s market but GM Brian Cashman still came up with quality prospects. 

In Abreu’s first start this year for the Single A Charles RiverDogs, he absolutely dominated.  In 5 2/3 innings the other day, he held the Augusta GreenJackets to two hits and no runs, striking out eleven.  He did not walk anyone.  At one point, his pitches were hitting 100 mph on the radar gun.  For the season, Abreu has pitched 9 2/3 innings, allowing only five hits and one run for an 0.93 ERA.  He has struck out a total of 17 batters.  I am sure the AA Trenton Thunder and High-A Tampa Yankees are already salivating over who gets their hands on Abreu next. 

I am okay with the spotlight not being focused on Adams.  My hope is his continued positive, upward climb in the organization.  I have no problem with him slipping quietly into the rotation when it is time.  Take a chance on Adams!  If we do lose Masahiro Tanaka, Michael Pineda, and/or CC Sabathia at the end of the year, we’ll need every quality (healthy) arm that we can get. 

Credit:  Martin Griff

Regarding Kaprielian, given this is the same injury that cost him the 2016 season, I think the decision to undergo TJ surgery is the best possible option.  Unfortunately, there are no guarantees.  But as I’ve said before, he had to make the decision that was best for him and not necessarily what was best for the Yankees.  Surgery probably means  a reappearance in the minor leagues toward the end of the 2018 season since the standard recovery time is 12-18 months.  More than anything, I hope he is able to rebound from this setback and return with the best health possible.  It’s going to be a long journey for Kaprielian (basically, three lost seasons counting last year) but I hope that he is one day able to step foot on Yankee Stadium turf as a member of the New York Yankees.  I am glad that he chose Dr Neal ElAttrache for the surgery given that he is one of the leading experts in the field. 

Kaprielian’s surgery is scheduled for next Tuesday which coincides with Tax Day.  So, I guess that day is going to be painful for all of us!  Well, I suppose you could argue that Kaprielian is getting the pain from an orthopedic surgeon, whereas the rest of us are getting it from a proctologist.

The Cleveland Indians trade for Andrew Miller may have cost them more time without All-Star second baseman Jason Kipnis.  It seems odd that one would be connected to the other but Kipnis was hit by a pitch on his left hand the other day on a rehab assignment.  Word is that Kipnis will give it go today so hopefully he won’t miss time.  The irony is that the pitch was thrown by the Yankees’ Justus Sheffield, a former Indians prospect who arrived with Clint Frazier, among others, in the Miller trade.    

After the second run through the rotation, which included a rookie, it’s hard to believe that the worst starting performance was courtesy of Masahiro Tanaka (last Saturday’s 5-4 loss to the Baltimore Orioles, which is also the last time the team has lost).  After Micheal Pineda’s masterful performance on Opening Day, Luis Severino delivered a gem of his own.  In getting his first starting victory since September 27, 2015, Sevy went seven strong innings and struck out eleven Rays batters.  He only surrendered five hits, one walk and two runs.  He did give up a fifth inning home run to Peter Bourjos but all things considered, he limited the damage and set the Yankees up for the win despite minimal offense.  It’s the type of quality start that we consistently need from Severino and one that was so elusive last year when Sevy went 0-8 as a starter.

Credit:  Frank Franklin II/AP Photo

The only offense was provided by Aaron Hicks and his two home runs.  Thanks to Sevy’s great start, that’s all we needed for the 3-2 win.  Dellin Betances did get into a bit of bind in the eighth inning when he had runners at the corners with no outs, but he worked out of trouble to escape the inning with no runs.  The strikeouts for the first two outs of Kevin Kiermaier and Evan Longoria on called third strikes were huge.  I was a little worried when Brad Miller came to the plate but he was tagged out by Betances on a soft roller hit toward first base for the final out.  

Aroldis Chapman pitched the ninth and picked up his second save of the season.  Man, I love having that guy back from the Chicago Cubs.  

After sitting at 1-4 following Saturday’s loss, the Yankees are 5-4 with the sweep of the Rays.  The Yankees now begin a three game set with the St Louis Cardinals at the Stadium.  The Cards have gotten off to a slow start this year and are currently in last place in the NL East with a 3-6 record (tied with the Pittsburgh Pirates).  They are capable of so much more but I hope they don’t wake up in this series.  It’s a reunion for Yankees DH Matt Holliday who spent eight years in St Louis.  Michael Wacha faces Masahiro Tanaka in what should be a great pitching matchup.  It’s time for a dominant Tanaka performance like we saw during Spring Training. 

Have a great Friday!  Let’s keep this winning streak alive!  Go for five!

The Feel Good Story of Radley Haddad

Who doesn’t want to start out their Friday morning with a little bit of “feel good news?” I know I like to so I thought I would bring you some this morning on this beautiful Friday and it involves the New York Yankees organization and one of their own, a former prospect named Radley Haddad. The New York Yankees signed Haddad as a non-drafted free agent out of Butler University back in 2013 as the catcher began his professional career with the ultimate dream every young baseball player has of reaching the Major Leagues. Well Haddad has done that, sort of.

Haddad, 26-years old, ended his four-year playing career this season with the organization to take a job that allows him to enter Yankee Stadium 81 times a season as the former catcher will now serve as the Yankees bullpen catcher. An hour before the Opening Day loss with the Tampa Bay Rays the Yankees General Manager Brian Cashman handed Haddad a contract to make the promotion official after Haddad has taken a few weeks to consult with friends and family on whether to accept the position or not.

Haddad played in just 92 professional games since being signed by the organization hitting just .203 with one home run in his minor league career. Needless to say Haddad and the Yankees both at least had a sneaking suspicion that the advanced levels of Minor League Baseball were going to be too much for Haddad so they both made a decision that should benefit both Haddad and the organization, which is an awesome story to read about.

Haddad spent the second half of the 2016 season with the Staten Island Yankees being groomed to be a coach thanks to Yankees Vice President of Development Gary Denbo. With this knowledge the Yankees called Haddad up many times this spring to catch bullpens and manager Joe Girardi even rewarded him by allowing him to get an at-bat in the exhibition game with the Atlanta Braves inside newly built SunTrust Park. Haddad grounded back to pitcher Josh Johnson after just two pitches but Haddad can retire knowing he took at least one at-bat inside of a Major League stadium and that is thanks to the kindness and thoughtfulness of not only manager Girardi but of the Yankees organization that was once donned with the moniker “The Evil Empire.”

So it Seems…. TGIF

What else really needs to be said? Thank God it's Friday. Make it a great day everyone!!

- Your Daniel Burch

This Day in New York Yankees History 4/14: Elston Howard Makes JFK Cry

On this day in 1967 21 year old left handed starting pitcher Billy Rohr is one out from pitching a no hitter in his Major League debut when Elston Howard singles on a 3-2 pitch to ruin the no hit bid. The Red Sox would win the game 3-0 but will be forever remembered as the game that John F. Kennedy Jr. was caught crying by the dugout and being consoled by his mother, Jackie Kennedy, because the shot at immortality was lost.

On this day in 1955 Elston Howard, who would later be named the American League MVP in 1963, became the first black player to play for the Yankees. Howard was a nine time All Star and played in 54 World Series games compiling a career batting average of .274.

On this day in 1911 a fire broke out and destroyed much of the Polo Grounds, the home of the New York Giants. The New York Highlanders, now known as the Yankees, offered the Giants a place to play for six weeks. Temporary stands were made at the Polo Grounds and the Giants soon returned.