Friday, June 30, 2017

Game Thread: New York Yankees @ Houston Astros 6/30

The New York Yankees and the Houston Astros are set to kick off their three-game weekend set here in a minute inside Minute Maid Park. How ironic. In the opener of this huge series the Yankees will send Michael Pineda to the mound looking to be "Big Mike" once again, at least for a night, while the Astros will counter with Lance McCullers Jr. The game will be played at 8:10 pm ET inside Yankee Stadium and can be seen on the YES Network, MLB Network and MLB TV. You can also follow along on the radio and in your cars tonight by tuning into the WFAN broadcast featuring John Sterling and Suzyn Waldman.

Follow us on Twitter by giving @GreedyStripes a follow and enjoy the game. Go Yankees!

The Highly Unlikely Trade Acquisition of Johnny Cueto

edit: Written before the Dustin Fowler knee injury.

Yeah, I am way out in left field. Yeah, this is unlikely. Yeah, I may be a little off my rocker. So what? The New York Yankees need starting pitching help and will presumably be in the market for some at the July 31st trade deadline so why not ignore a big name and go after someone that actually makes sense? Why not make the phone call to the San Francisco Giants and why not make a trade offer for right-handed starter Johnny Cueto? 

Johnny Cueto has four years and $84 million left on his contract after the 2017 season but many people are forgetting that Cueto has an opt-out clause that can allow him to test the free agent market after the 2017 season. This is a huge risk but could be a huge reward for the Yankees if they acquire him because if Cueto does opt-out, and according to Jon Heyman at FanRag Sports he will, the Yankees cannot offer him a qualifying offer and could potentially lose him for “nothing.” On the other hand if he sticks around and decides not to opt-out the Yankees would have a $21 million pitcher on the books when the team is trying to get under the luxury tax threshold after the 2018 season.  

Of course you can play Devil’s advocate though and remember that Masahiro Tanaka also has a similar opt-out clause written into his contract so if Cueto did opt to remain with the Yankees at least the Yankees would have a reliable arm in the rotation. We could debate this and debate what could or is going to happen all day but you have to get the trade done first. Let’s not get ahead of ourselves, could the Yankees get the trade done? Absolutely. They have the prospects to get ANY trade done, but should they? 

Again, more questions than answers. Cueto has postseason and World Series experience after leading the Kansas City Royals to the World Series in 2015 and the San Francisco Giants to the postseason in 2016 but his 2017 campaign leaves much to be desired. Cueto currently sports a 4.20 ERA pitching his home games in a very pitcher-friendly ballpark and has allowed 13 home runs away from AT&T Park in 2017. Imagine that inside Yankee Stadium on a Saturday afternoon with the wind blowing out. Cueto is a workhorse though and has a career 3.25 ERA so maybe, and I know everyone says this about every potential trade rumor, a change of scenery and a change of pitching coaches could turn Cueto back into what he once was. 

The Yankees have a surplus of outfield prospects and the Giants are seemingly always needing an outfielder so maybe a trade around Dustin Fowler could get the job done. I’m not sure what else the Giants need but the Yankees have a ton to choose from so these two teams could make it work. Whatever you do just don’t include any of Chance Adams, Clint Frazier, Gleyber Torres and the other “blue-chip” Yankees prospects and this is a potential huge win for the pitching-hungry Yankees in 2017. 

Meet a Prospect: Jimmy Herron

In this crapshoot that is the Major League Baseball First year Players Draft you generally don’t know many of the players that get drafted outside of maybe the first three-to-four rounds. There are just too many schools and too many players to keep up with nationwide and it would literally be  full-time 80 hours per week job to try and keep up with it all so no one will hold it against you if you don’t know the name Jimmy Herron. The New York Yankees drafted Herron out of Duke University in this year’s 2017 MLB Draft as a sophomore in the 31st round, 932nd overall. Let’s meet him. This is Meet a Prospect: The Jimmy Herron Edition.

During the 2016 collegiate season Herron was named a freshman All-American leaving a lot to live up to for Herron in 2017. Herron started every game for the Blue Devils in 2017, one of three players to do so this season at Duke, compiling an impressive .326 batting average with 17 doubles, 53 runs, 74 hits, 39 RBI, five home runs and 17 stolen bases. Herron’s impressive season led to the Yankees drafting him in the 31st round of the draft making Herron the third Duke University player to be drafted in 2017 including Justin Bellinger by the Cincinnati Reds in the 22nd round and James Ziemba by the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim also in the 22nd round.

In two seasons at Duke, Herron owns a .325 batting average which is 12th best all-time in Duke history. Herron also has 41 stolen bases in two seasons which is 13th best in school history. Not bad for a sophomore outfielder that many casual fans never heard of. The biggest question regarding Herron, which explains why he was taken in the 31st round, is whether or not the pros will entice him enough to walk away from his final two seasons of collegiate eligibility.

Will Herron sign or will he look to improve his draft status while making another attempt at a strong season for Duke in 2018 as a junior? Only time will tell so stay tuned. All drafted players have until July 15th to decide whether they will sign with the teams that drafted them or return to school so we are just over two weeks away from the decision.

If Herron signs we here at The Greedy Pinstripes wish him well next season and have total respect for his decision. If Herron decides to sign then we want to be the first to welcome him to the organization and more importantly we want to be the first to welcome him to the Yankees family. Welcome Jimmy, just in case. 

Game Preview: New York Yankees @ Houston Astros 6/30

You know the world of Major League Baseball, much like your real life, has a funny way of figuring itself out sometimes. The last team the New York Yankees want to presumably see right now is the best team in the American League, the Houston Astros, but that is exactly who they will square off with this weekend inside Minute Maid Park. The Astros, like the Yankees, are injured right now across the board but Houston remains atop the power rankings among the league and atop the American League West Division so given the Yankees recent struggles this could be a tough weekend. Or the Yankees, on the flip side, could use this as motivation to bring their “A” games and sweep the Astros, because baseball. In the opener the Yankees will send Michael Pineda to the mound looking to do just that while the Astros will counter with Lance McCullers Jr.

Pineda has been rocky to say the least in his last three starts putting up a combined 0-1 record with an ERA touching 7.47. Not a typo, 7.47 ERA in his last three starts. In those three starts Pineda has a combined 15.2 innings pitched as well showing that the Yankees righty isn't missing any bats and isn't going deep into games either. He will have to do both tonight against the Houston Astros.

McCullers Jr.  was sharp in his last start against the Seattle Mariners allowing just one run in five innings of work. That start marked the first time McCullers had been on the mound since coming off the disabled list while tonight will mark the second time that McCullers has seen the Yankees in 2017. In his first start against New York on May 12 the Astros right tossed six shutout innings in a victory for the Astros.

The game will be played at 8:10 pm ET inside Minute Maid Park in Houston and can be seen on the YES Network, MLB Network and MLB TV. You can also follow along in your cars and on the radio by tuning into the WFAN broadcast with John Sterling and Suzyn Waldman. Enjoy the game and go Yankees!!!

A Long, Hard Day Falls Short...

Credit:  USATSI
Brian Cashman on Line 3...

The Yankees were very busy on Thursday and that was before game time.  Normally, I lead with the day's prior game but today I wanted to catch my breath from the flurry of activity that took place yesterday.

On Wednesday night, Miguel Andujar, penciled in at DH as a fill-in for the DL'd Matt Holliday, had one of the greatest Major League debuts in franchise history.  For all I know, it may have been the best, outperforming many of the legends that have called Yankee Stadium home.  He went 3-for-4 with 4 RBI's and a stolen base.  Thursday rolls around and he's flying from Chicago to Syracuse, New York to catch up with the Scranton/Wilkes-Barre RailRiders on the road.  

I get the logic.  The Yankees want Andujar to focus on third base with regular playing time.  There's no doubt he'll be back but it must have been tough celebrating Major League success for the first time, followed by a tap on the shoulder that the manager wanted to talk to you...and oh yeah, bring your bags.  

Coming the other way is first baseman Chris Carter.  I think @BronxPinstripes said it best on Twitter the other day when they said Carter would be back faster than you could say 'Strike 3'.  Sad but true.  With the placement of Tyler Austin on the disabled list (hamstring), the Yankees needed a true first baseman.  Austin Romine has done a good job and I'm sure he'll remain in the mix, but I guess we need to get prepared for more whiffs in big spots.  

To make room for Carter, the Yankees moved Greg Bird to the 60-Day Disabled List which is probably a light indication we may not see Bird again this year.  

The Yankees also recalled outfielder Dustin Fowler to replace Andujar.  I wondered what was up with Fowler.  Wednesday night, I was seeing tweets about how Fowler was a no-show for the RailRiders' double-header.  No reason was given and when Manager Al Pedrique was asked about it after the games, he said that there would be clarity on Thursday.  Early Thursday, the news was breaking that Fowler was on his way to Chicago to meet up with the Yankees.  Obviously, the Yankees must have called the RailRiders to tell them to pull Fowler from games.  It must be tough to be a Triple A manager.  Things are going great and out of nowhere, your best players get plucked off your roster so you're left to pillage Double A.  I don't dispute calling up Fowler.  There is a greater outfield need right now and there's no way I'd put all my chips on Jacoby Ellsbury.  It's unfortunate for Andujar but it would have been a good opportunity for Fowler.  More on Fowler later.

Since Fowler was not on the 40-man roster, someone had to be voted off the island.  Unfortunately, the loser was one-time top prospect Mason Williams.  As an older prospect that never took advantage of opportunities, he was deemed expendable in an organization filled with outstanding outfield prospects.  I know these moves are as much about preparing for the December Rule 5 Draft as they are for helping the team play the White Sox and the Astros.  It will be interesting to see if the Yankees can trade Williams or if they lose him for nothing.  I don't really see him accepting an outright assignment to Triple A but I could be wrong.  If it were me, I'd try to catch on with an organization running a little thin with outfielders.  Excuse me, Brian Sabean, can we talk?  Fowler represents the ninth Yankee making his MLB debut this year.  Gleyber Torres, why, oh why, did you make that slide?...

Busy, busy day.

White Sox 4, Yankees 3...

The exciting MLB debut for Dustin Fowler ended as horrifically as one could imagine.  On his first play in the first inning, Fowler ruptured the patella tendon in his right knee when he tried to make a running catch into foul territory to catch a fly ball and collided with the low right field foul wall.  I had been worried about Fowler going into this game.  Delayed by rain, the game didn't begin play until 10 pm Central (which would have been 11 pm for Fowler having just flown in from Syracuse, New York).  The late, wet conditions set a horrible stage for Fowler's debut.  I felt the game should have been called, particularly considering the Yankees had to fly to Houston, Texas to play another game today at 5:10 pm Central.  It was a very unfortunate situation for Fowler, who is out for the season.

Credit:  Patrick Gorski-AP
The Yankees are now faced with yet another roster move.  Rob Refsnyder, who replaced Fowler in right field, dropped a fly ball that should have been caught which allowed the White Sox to score a run in the bottom of the 2nd inning. No offense to Refsnyder but the Yankees need better help in the outfield.  It will be interesting to see if the Yankees make another adjustment with the 40-man roster to recall Clint Frazier.  

The Yankees scored first in the top of the first inning before the Fowler injury in the bottom half.  Following an infield single by Brett Gardner and a walk by Aaron Judge, Didi Gregorius grounded into a fielder's choice to first but Jose Abreu's throw to second glanced off Judge's left shoulder and went into left field.  Gardner scored on the play.  

In the bottom of the second, the White Sox scored two runs to take the lead.  The first run, courtesy of Refsnyder's error.  Adam Engel, who hit the two-out fly ball that Refsnyder dropped, scored the go-ahead run when the next batter, Omar Narvaez, singled to left.  

The Yankees tied the game in the fourth.  Ronald Torreyes lined a single to deep left with runners at first and second, scoring the lead runner (Jacoby Ellsbury).  But the White Sox quickly answered in the bottom half of the inning.  Yolmer Sanchez walked to start the inning for the White Sox.  Adam Engel was hit by a pitch with one out to put runners at first and second.  Omar Narvaez grounded out to first, but the runners advanced a base.  Willy Garcia brought both runners home with a double to deep left and the White Sox led, 4-2. 

The Yankees scored their final run in the sixth when Jacoby Ellsbury led off with a triple.  He scored when Austin Romine hit into a ground out at short.  Unfortunately, the Yankees were unable to complete the rally.  They had the right opportunity in the ninth with Aaron Judge at the plate and Brett Gardner on first with two outs, but White Sox closer David Robertson struck out Judge to end the game.  

I am sure it was a very long flight from Chicago to Houston.

This was a sickening loss.  The long-term health of Dustin Fowler is the primary concern.  But these were very difficult circumstances for the Yankees to play and a game that I felt should not have been played.  The cost was far too great.  If the Yankees play sluggishly today, who can blame them.  With the loss, the Yankees (42-35) fell one game behind the Boston Red Sox.  The Red Sox beat the Minnesota Twins 6-3.  The Tampa Bay Rays lost 4-0 to the Pittsburgh Pirates so they are three games behind the Yankees.

Luis Cessa (0-3) was the hard luck loser.  He pitched 4 2/3 innings, with a whopping 89 pitches, allowing 5 hits, 4 runs (2 unearned thanks to the Refsnyder error), 3 walks, and struck out 1.  If there is a positive, the Yankees bullpen threw 3 1/3 innings of scoreless relief which included an inning by Tyler Clippard.  The pitcher, who has been very erratic of late, struck out the side in the bottom of the 7th.  

I hope Brian Cashman gets to the office early today.  He has much work to do.

Oh well, on to Houston and MLB's best team, the Astros.  It doesn't get any easier.

Next Up:  Houston Astros at Minute Maid Park in Houston, Texas...

Here are the scheduled pitching match-ups:

Yankees:  Michael Pineda (7-4, 4.12 ERA)
Astros:  Lance McCullers, Jr. (7-1, 2.53 ERA)

Yankees:  Jordan Montgomery (6-4, 3.53 ERA)
Astros:  Francis Martes (2-0, 5.51 ERA)

Yankees:  Luis Severino (5-3, 3.15 ERA)
Astros:  Mike Fiers (5-3, 3.98 ERA)

Odds & Ends...

Another former Yankee has found his way to the unemployment line.  The Atlanta Braves have designated 44-year-old Bartolo Colon for assignment.  I really hope the Yankees do not to take a flyer.  Let him go back to the Mets.

Have a great Friday!  Today has to be better than yesterday.  Let's Go Yankees!

Yankees in Talks w/ Marlins for Martin Prado and Justin Bour

Earlier this week The Greedy Pinstripes declared the Miami Marlins open for trades and even went as far as to predict a fire sale by the team in South Florida. Now I personally don’t have any inside information or sources that will back that up, although I have a sneaking suspicion that many of the “insiders” that claim to have those sources really don’t either to be honest, but instead of relying on click baits, false information and “sources” I personally prefer to rely on history as an indicator and common sense when laying out my plans and posts here on the blog. When the team traded shortstop Adeiny Hechavarria to the Tampa Bay Rays in a weak National League East Division I knew more was to come and that “more” may include a Martin Prado reunion back in the Bronx.

According to reports that are circulating online the New York Yankees and the Miami Marlins are at least discussing and kicking the tires on a potential trade that would bring the third baseman and utility player back to the Bronx after the Yankees traded him three seasons back along with David Phelps for Nathan Eovaldi, Garrett Jones and prospects. For what it’s worth that same report stated that the Boston Red Sox have also called Miami to talk about Prado which could create an expensive bidding war between the two teams. It is also worth mentioning that the Yankees asked about first baseman Justin Bour as well although Bour doesn’t exactly make me want to jump up and down and do a happy dance at the thought of his acquisition, I’m just saying.

Through Prado’s first 83 at-bats this season the 33-year old is hitting .277 although the sample size is down due to the righty missing time with a hamstring injury. Prado hit .305/.359/.417 over 153 games for the Marlins in 2016 though and brings with him about 14 defensive gloves, a slight exaggeration but probably not by much, and an absolute ton of defensive versatility. Prado has played every position during his 12-year MLB career with the exception of center field and catcher, I think the Yankees have those two positions handled pretty well thankfully.

Bour, although I did state earlier that acquiring him doesn’t give me the biggest warm and fuzzy feeling, is having the best season of his young MLB career in 2017 hitting .298 with a .365 on-base percentage, 18 home runs and 50 RBI. Those numbers are great but Bour is a left-handed hitter, which makes having both him and Greg Bird on the same team a bit redundant to me, and has three-plus seasons of team control left making him potentially expensive. If Bour had more than 258 games of experience to base the decision off of, and around 70 games of experience this season where he is hitting so well, the decision may be a bit easier for New York but as it stands now there seems to be more questions than answers at this point.

This trade, like all trades, will come down to the price tag for the Yankees. Acquiring Prado and his two-years and $28 million will likely keep the price tag down for New York but Bour won’t reach free agency until the 2021 season. Not only would Bour block Greg Bird or potentially take at-bats away from him but I also can’t see Miami simply giving him away with that much team control left. Having Bour’s left-handed swing inside Yankee Stadium, yes I know every left-handed swing is just “made” for Yankee Stadium, and in the middle of the Yankees lineup would be a huge upgrade over what the team has gotten from first base though, I admit that, but at what cost? What does the team do with both Bour and Bird when Bird returns healthy in 2016 and beyond? Again, I go back to the word “redundant.”

Whatever the Yankees and their GM Brian Cashman do remains to be seen but it seems like we once again have proof that those guys are reading what I write. I suggest going after Prado, they go after Prado a couple days later. I suggest starting to look at the July 31st trading deadline and potential acquisitions early and here we are a month almost to the day in advance talking about New York already having discussions with other teams. They read me dammit, they really do! That may or may not be sarcasm, only time will tell.

Stay tuned and Happy Friday!

So it Seems… Resiliency

Resiliency. What is the definition of resiliency? Resiliency is the capacity to recover quickly from difficulties. Resiliency is toughness. Resiliency is the ability to spring back into shape. Resiliency is elasticity. Resiliency is the ability to look the troubles that the world has given you or the troubles that you have created in the face and telling them to sit down and take a number. Resiliency is telling those monsters in your head to quiet down that you’re trying to watch Netflix and chill. Resiliency is to grow stronger and better when the going gets tough. Resiliency is how you grow an unstoppable force.

I see a lot of resiliency with this Yankees team this season. Masahiro Tanaka is struggling? No problem, plug in Luis Severino and Jordan Montgomery and keep the good times rolling. Starlin Castro, Matt Holliday and Aaron Hicks get added to the disabled list? No problem, Tyler Wade and Miguel Andujar it is your time to shine. Offense is struggling? Baseball, meet Aaron Judge. The outcome? The team just keeps on winning despite losing all these people or despite key players in key spots struggling so imagine what this team will look like when said players put it all together, come back healthy or finally begin to play to the back of their baseball cards? It is a scary thought for non-Yankees fans right now, I assure you of that.

You are resilient. You are amazing. You are strong. You are kind. You are special. You are truly one of a kind in the best possible way. You are loved. You are supported. You are adored. You are me and I am you. I love you.

Have a happy Friday everyone and a great weekend. Especially you. HEY YOU!

This Day in New York Yankees History 6/30: Yankees Pull a Kansas City in All-Star Game

On this day in 2002 the Yankees became the first team in the American League since the 1956 Chicago White Sox to have four infielders and a catcher on the All Star roster. Jason Giambi, Alfonso Soriano, and Jorge Posada were voted in by the fans and Derek Jeter and Robin Ventura were chosen by the AL manager Joe Torre.

Also on this day in 1961 Whitey Ford became the first American League pitcher to win eight games in one month. Ford would throw a complete game win over the Washington Senators as the Yankees would win 5-1. This would be the Yankees 22nd team victory in June, a great month.

Finally on this day Cy Young showed why Major League Baseball would soon name their prestigious pitchers award after him, well that and leading the majors in wins and losses in his career, on this day in 1908 as Young no-hit the Highlanders 8-0. The 41 year old Red Sox pitcher would pitch his third no hitter of his career against the team that would soon be the New York Yankees.