Tuesday, July 4, 2017

All-Star Game Snubs: The Pitching Edition

Earlier today we went over the snubs that did not make the All-Star Game on the offensive side of the game so it seems only fitting that we also cover the snubs on the pitching side of things. With the reduction in roster spots on the respective All-Star teams the amount of snubs are at an all-time high including these three glaring examples. If I missed any of if you disagree then leave your thoughts and suggestions in the comments section below and let’s start a conversation.

Carlos Carrasco of the Cleveland Indians has already surpassed the 100 strikeout mark this season and we are barely into July baseball. At the time of the team announcements Carrasco was sporting a 1.05 WHIP with a 3.50 ERA in 97.2 innings pitched. Sure the ERA was a bit high but in an era of sabermetrics and advanced statistics does anyone really pay attention to primitive stats like ERA anymore? Well maybe, I mean I did quote it just two or three lines above, but does it hold the same weight as it used to? I didn’t think so, but maybe.

Another pitcher that got snubbed is a pitcher that I suggested the Yankees buy-low on this winter in the Washington Nationals LHP Gio Gonzalez. Gonzalez has done nothing but bounce back in 2017 to post the third lowest ERA at the time of the roster announcement with a 2.77 ERA while also posting 104 strikeouts. Gonzalez was left off because it was either he, Stephen Strasburg or Max Scherzer that was going to be snubbed but I am sure that doesn’t make the southpaw feel any better about this. Gonzalez deserves to be there.

The final pitcher, also a lefty, is Felipe Rivero of the Pittsburgh Pirates. Rivero was sporting a 0.82 ERA when the rosters were announced over the weekend to go along with his 49 strikeouts and 14 holds for a mediocre Pittsburgh Pirates team. I know the All-Star Game is full of starters and closers but sometimes the setup man is just as important as the closer, if not more important. That is definitely the case with Rivero.

Quick Hit: All-Star Game Means Something Again

This morning we covered the All-Star Game representatives for the American League and National League but this game, unlike in years past, will not determine who receives home-field advantage in the World Series. The game is back to being a showcase and an exhibition game for the players and for the fans but that doesn’t mean there isn’t a bit of incentive for the players this year. The game still means something to these players, money.

The winners of the 2017 All-Star Game will each receive $20,000 while the losing team of the game will receiving nothing. Is that incentive enough? Honestly, it should be. Good luck to all parties involved, especially those five (potentially six) members of the New York Yankees. 

All-Star Game Snubs: The Offense Edition

Widespread change has come to Major League Baseball’s All-Star Game in 2017 including a reduction of roster size from 34 players to 32 players and the elimination of the game determining home-field advantage in the 2017 World Series. With the changes and the reduced number of players attending the game and representing their team and their league the amount of snubs that undoubtedly happen every season are up. Here are a few of the snubs I feel should have made the game, if I missed any or if you disagree please leave them below in the comments section. Thank you.

Kris Bryant was thought to be a shoe-in at the beginning of the season for an All-Star selection one would think, even if he was deserving it or not. The Chicago Cubs fans came out in droves last season electing seven of their own including the entire infield at the 2016 All-Star Game but this season despite strong numbers Bryant was not voted or selected to the All-Star Game. At the time the vote was announced Bryant had an OPS of .901 with 16 home runs and 53 walks. Third base is a stacked position for the NL right now but wow, leaving Kris Bryant off is a tough pill to swallow for me.

Another National League third baseman that, as of the time of the roster announcements anyway, won’t be making the trip to Miami for the 2017 All-Star Game is the Washington Nationals third baseman Anthony Rendon. Rendon has a higher OPS than Bryant at .951 and has posted a 3.7 WAR already this season which leads qualified third baseman in the National League. Rendon is also Top 5 in major statistics like RBI, home runs, hits and runs.

A final National League third baseman that won’t be making the trip to Miami as of the time of the roster announcements over the weekend is the Los Angeles Dodgers third baseman Justin Turner. Turner’s biggest issue this season is the fact that at the time of the roster announcements the right-hander was not qualified for the National League batting title after having just 212 at-bats. If Turner were to qualify for the batting title, and assuming health he easily should, Turner would lead all NL third baseman with a 1.029 OPS and a .381 batting average.

*All three of Rendon, Bryant and Turner are on the final vote ballot just as an FYI so conceivably one, or all three, can still make the game.

One final third baseman, I promise, that I believe got snubbed comes from the American League this time and the Kansas City Royals, Mike Moustakas. Moustakas led all AL third baseman at the time of the roster announcement with 22 home runs which puts the right-hander on pace to hit more home runs in a single season than any player in Kansas City Royals history. More than George Brett, too much pine tar and all. More than anyone. Moustakas also had 78 hits and a .853 OPS at the time of the announcement which were both third best among AL third baseman this season.

Robinson Cano was leading all American League second baseman with 60 RBI and 17 home runs at the time of the roster announcement but that was not good enough to be named to the American League’s roster, not even as a reserve. Cano is having a Cano-esque season as he hasn’t been striking out, has been taking his walks, has hit for power and extra-base hits and has played a smooth second base defensively all season long. I’m not quite sure I get this one, but okay.

What if I told you that Andrelton Simmons had the second highest WAR among all American League shortstops at the time the 2017 All-Star Game rosters were announced behind only the starter for the Houston Astros, Carlos Correa. Would you believe that? Well believe it because his 3.5 WAR thus far this season makes it true. Simmons is a defensive wizard and has been an on-base machine this season but the big names of Correa, Francisco Lindor and AL Final Vote candidate Didi Gregorius will continue to outshine Simmons at least for now.

The final offensive snub of the 2017 may be Logan Morrison of the Tampa Bay Rays. Morrison is currently leading all of the American League first baseman in WAR with a 2.7 WAR. Morrison is also leading all AL first baseman in walks (47), home runs (24) and RBI (57) leading many to wonder why he wasn’t added to the roster. This one was a real head scratcher in my opinion and possibly the biggest of all the snubs.

Game Thread: New York Yankees vs. Toronto Blue Jays 7/3

Afternoon Independence Day baseball in the Bronx, let’s get to it as the New York Yankees play host to the Toronto Blue Jays for the second time in their three-game set. In the matchup this afternoon the Yankees will activate CC Sabathia off the disabled list to toe the rubber while the Blue Jays will counter with JA Happ. The game will be played at 1:05 pm ET inside Yankee Stadium and can be seen on the YES Network and MLB TV. You can also follow along in your cars and on the radio by tuning into WFAN with birthday boy John Sterling and Suzyn Waldman.

Also a big happy birthday to the late George Steinbrenner and of course a huge happy birthday to America.

Follow us on Twitter by following @GreedyStripes and enjoy the game. Go Yankees!!!

Chasing the Victory...

Credit:  Mike Stobe-Getty Images
Yankees 6, Blue Jays 3…

Before the game, GM Brian Cashman, responding to questions about the infield corners, replied that Chase Headley is his third baseman.  Headley went out and backed up his GM with a key fielding plays and hits to lead the Yankees to the win over the Toronto Blue Jays.

With the talented Marcus Stroman on the mound for Toronto, the Yankees loaded the bases with one out in the 1st inning when Aaron Judge and Gary Sanchez both singled and Didi Gregorius walked.  Chase Headley came to the plate and was hit by a pitch (conveniently hitting his lower right shin guard) to bring home Judge.  Jacoby Ellsbury followed Headley with a walk to push another run across and the Yankees led 2-0.  

From that point, it became a pitching duel between Stroman and Masahiro Tanaka.  After experiencing trouble with a blister in the fifth inning, Stroman did not return for the sixth.  Tanaka (7-7), who has pitched like an ace since his match-up against fellow Japanese countryman Yu Darvish a couple of weeks ago, gave the Yankees seven strong innings.  The Jays finally scored a run against him the 7th inning when Ezequiel Carrera was hit by a pitch.  Carrera stole second but an errant throw by Gary Sanchez and an overthrown ball from the outfield allowed Carrera to take third.  Darwin Barney singled to left, scoring Carrera, and it was 2-1 Yankees.

With the Yankees nursing a one-run lead, Dellin Betances entered the game to start the 8th in relief of Tanaka.  Given his recent struggles, it was time to hold my breath.  Betances struck out Joey Bats with a 3-2 count, but then walked the dangerous Josh Donaldson.  I was growing concerned with Dellin’s control, but then he ended the inning with a “strike ‘em out, throw ‘em out” double play.  Justin Smoak struck out, and then Sanchez drilled the ball to Chase Headley, covering second due to a shift, who nailed the sliding Donaldson for the final out.  That was a great confidence booster for Betances and hopefully it is the start of his return to bullpen dominance.  

Credit:  John Munson-NJ Advance Media for NJ.com
The Yankees were finally able to put together some offense in the bottom of the 8th when Jays reliever Ryan Tepera entered the game in relief of Danny Barnes.  Aaron Judge singled and moved to third when Gary Sanchez dropped a double in deep left, just beyond the reaching glove of Steve Pearce.  Didi Gregorius walked and the bases were loaded for Chase Headley.  He did not disappoint.  A double to right scored both Judge and Sanchez.  Following a strikeout by Jacoby Ellsbury, Ronald Torreyes came up and hit an infield squibber that Tepera grabbed and threw to catcher Luke Maile.  Maile converged with Gregorius, who was sliding headfirst into home, and the ball rolled away from Maile’s glove.  Headley came in to score the second run on the play, and the Yankees had increased their lead to 6-1.  

On to the 9th and closer Aroldis Chapman.  When Chapman first got up in the pen, the Yankees held the slim one-run lead.  But Chapman had to wait while the Yankees were scoring the four runs in the prior inning, which eliminated the save opportunity.  Chapman came into the game and continued to show the control problems that have plagued his recent outings.  Kendrys Morales opened the inning with a double.  Chapman was able to induce Steve Pearce into a groundout, while holding Morales at second.  Pinch-hitter Kevin Pillar came to the plate and laced a double down the third base line (looked foul to me), scoring Morales.  Darwin Barney singled to right to score Pillar and the Jays had closed to within three runs at 6-3.  

Credit:  John Munson-NJ Advance Media for NJ.com
After Troy Tulowitzki struck out, former Yankee Russell Martin came to the plate in place of Luke Maile.  Joey Bats was in the on-deck circle, representing the tying run if Martin successfully reached base.  Martin hit a hard liner toward third that looked to be trouble but an excellent catch by Chase Headley ended the game.  

A little drama at the end, but it was a great win for the Yankees.  The positives were the continued strength of Masahiro Tanaka (his third consecutive ace-like performance) and the glove and bat of Chase Headley.  The negatives were the continued bullpen struggles, most notably Aroldis Chapman and the first base play of Chris Carter.  Twice, Carter hit into rally-killing double plays.  He stifled a scoring opportunity in the 4th with runners at first and second when he hit into the inning-ending DP, and had another opportunity in the 8th after Ronald Torreyes had reached base due to the fielder’s choice that had scored the Yankees’ final two runs but he weakly hit into another inning-ending DP.  Although he wasn’t charged with an error, his glove remains suspect at first base.  Every thrown or hit ball his way is cause for concern.  In the third, he muffed a grounder by Ryan Goins but fortunately Tanaka was there to take the toss from Carter for the out.  

Clint Frazier, making his Yankee Stadium debut, was 0-for-3, with 2 strikeouts.

Credit:  John Munson-NJ Advance Media for NJ.com
The Yankees have got to get their two top bullpen pitchers back to form.  It was a good start for Betances but Chapman continues to be a concern.  If the score had still been 2-1, it most likely would have been another heart-breaking loss for the Yankees.  Too much work…not enough...somehow, Manager Joe Girardi has to find the right mix.  His cause should be greatly aided by the impending return of Adam Warren which allows all of the relievers to return to their early season roles when they were a very dominant group.  

The Yankees (44-37) remain three games behind Boston.  The Red Sox defeated the Texas Rangers, 7-5, in extra innings.  The Tampa Bay Rays had the day off so they slid to 2 1/2 games in back of the Yankees.  

Odds & Ends…

Gary Sanchez will join Aaron Judge for next Monday’s Home Run Derby as part of the festivities for the All-Star Game.  Together, they’ll represent half of the American League’s entrants in the competition, joining Miguel Sano of the Minnesota Twins and Mike Moustakas of the Kansas City Royals.  The National League team will be comprised of Giancarlo Stanton and Justin Bour of the Miami Marlins, Charlie Blackmon of the Colorado Rockies and Cody Bellinger of the Los Angeles Dodgers. 

CC Sabathia and Adam Warren have been activated off the DL for today's game.  Making room are pitchers Domingo German and Bryan Mitchell, who were sent to Triple A.  I am mildly surprised that it was Mitchell and not Luis Cessa pegged for the trip to Scranton, PA.

The Blue Jays will have a new catcher on their roster today.  Miguel Montero, who lost his job with the Chicago Cubs after publicly criticizing Jake Arrieta and other Chicago pitchers for being “slow to the plate”, was acquired by Toronto on Monday for a player to be named later or cash considerations.  Arrieta was on the mound when the Washington Nationals stole seven bases in a recent Cubs game.  

Get your AL All-Star Final Vote in for Didi Gregorius!  According to an update this morning, he is currently trailing Mike Moustakas and Xander Bogaerts.  C’mon NYY fans!  

Have a great 4th of July!  Hopefully the Yankees can provide the fireworks to make this a very memorable day for all of us!  Go Yankees!

Congratulations Aaron Judge, Gary Sanchez, Starlin Castro, Luis Severino, Dellin Betances & Vote Didi!

The American League and National League preliminary rosters for the 2017 All-Star Game have been released and five, potentially six, member of the New York Yankees have made the squad. We want to offer a big set of congratulations for Aaron Judge, Gary Sanchez, Starlin Castro, Luis Severino and Dellin Betances and we also here at TGP want to encourage you all to vote our shortstop Didi Gregorius to the game as Didi is a member of the annual final vote for the final All-Star Game rosters. These rosters are preliminary and are subject to change but here are the rosters as they were revealed and voted on over the weekend. Enjoy and seriously, go vote for Didi!

American League Starters:

C – Salvador Perez, Royals
1B – Justin Smoak, Blue Jays
2B – Jose Altuve, Astros
3B - Jose Ramirez, Indians
SS – Carlos Correa, Astros
OF – Aaron Judge, Yankees
OF – Mike Trout, Angels
OF – George Springer, Astros
DH – Corey Dickerson, Rays

AL Reserves:

C: Gary Sanchez, Yankees
1B: Yonder Alonso, Athletics
2B: Starlin Castro, Yankees
2B: Jonathan Schoop, Orioles
3B: Miguel Sano, Twins
SS: Francisco Lindor, Indians
OF: Mookie Betts, Red Sox
OF: Avisail Garcia, White Sox
OF: Michael Brantley, Indians
DH: Nelson Cruz, Mariners

AL Starting Pitchers:

LHP: Chris Sale, Red Sox
LHP: Dallas Keuchel, Astros
LHP: Jason Vargas, Royals
RHP: Luis Severino, Yankees
RHP: Yu Darvish, Rangers
RHP: Michael Fulmer, Tigers
RHP: Ervin Santana, Twins
RHP: Corey Kluber, Indians
RHP: Lance McCullers Jr., Astros

AL Relief Pitchers:

RHP: Craig Kimbrel, Red Sox
RHP: Dellin Betances, Yankees
LHP: Andrew Miller, Indians

Final Vote:

Elvis Andrus, Rangers
Xander Bogaerts, Red Sox
Didi Gregorious, Yankees
Mike Moustakas, Royals
Logan Morrison, Rays

National League Starters:

C – Buster Posey, Giants
1B – Ryan Zimmerman, Nationals
2B – Daniel Murphy, Nationals
3B – Nolan Arenado, Rockies
SS – Zack Cozart, Reds
OF – Bryce Harper, Nationals
OF – Charlie Blackmon, Rockies
OF – Marcell Ozuna, Marlins

NL Reserves:

C – Yadier Molina, Cardinals
1B - Joey Votto, Reds
1B - Paul Goldschmidt, Diamondbacks
2B - D.J. LeMahieu, Rockies
2B - Josh Harrison, Pirates
3B - Jake Lamb, Diamondbacks
SS - Corey Seager, Dodgers
OF - Cody Bellinger, Dodgers
OF - Giancarlo Stanton, Marlins
OF - Michael Conforto, Mets
OF - Ender Inciarte, Braves

NL Starting Pitchers:

RHP: Max Scherzer, Nationals
LHP: Clayton Kershaw, Dodgers
LHP: Robbie Ray, Diamondbacks
RHP: Zack Greinke, Diamondbacks
RHP: Carlos Martinez, Cardinals
RHP: Stephen Strasburg, Nationals

NL Relief Pitchers:

RHP: Kenley Jansen, Dodgers
RHP: Wade Davis, Cubs
RHP: Greg Holland, Rockies
LHP: Brad Hand, Padres
RHP: Corey Knebel, Brewers
RHP: Pat Neshek, Phillies

Final Vote:

Justin Bour, Marlins
Kris Bryant, Cubs
Anthony Rendon, Nationals
Mark Reynolds, Rockies

Justin Turner, Dodgers

Game Preview: New York Yankees vs. Toronto Blue Jays 7/3

The New York Yankees and the Toronto Blue Jays will continue their three-game set this week in the Bronx with the middle game of the series today inside Yankee Stadium. In this afternoon’s July 4th contest the Yankees will welcome back CC Sabathia off the disabled list to make the start while the Blue Jays will counter with J.A. Happ. All left-handed hitters need to be weary when Happ is on the mound, especially in the Bronx, as the lefty loves to hit Yankees left-handed batters for whatever reason. It’s been a couple years now but the thoughts of Happ hitting Robinson Cano and Curtis Granderson as members of the Yankees for injuries still haunts me. I can’t help it.

Sabathia is coming off the disabled list to make the start after suffering a strained left hamstring way back on June 13. The last time the Yankees big southpaw faced this Toronto Blue Jays offense they teed off on Sabathia to the tune of six runs on May 3. No more of that, please.

Happ has made six starts since coming off the disabled list with an elbow injury for the Blue Jays and has posted a quality start in four of those six outing. With that kind of math, and alotta bit of sarcasm, the Blue Jays lefty is due to lay an egg this afternoon in the Bronx. I’m calling four innings pitched and six runs allowed for Happ. One can dream.

The game will be played at 1:05 pm ET inside Yankee Stadium and can be seen on the YES Network and MLB TV. You can also follow along in your cars and on the radio by tuning into John Sterling and Suzyn Waldman on WFAN. Enjoy the game and as always, and especially today on America’s birthday with America’s team, Go Yankees!!!

So it Seems…. Happy Independence Day!

Good morning everyone and Happy Independence Day here in the states. Today is a huge day obviously for everyone living here in the USA and it means so much more than a paid day off, fireworks and a barbecue with friends and family. It means independence, the sacrifices given for our freedom not only way back when in 1776 but every day since from our military and their families and it means, most of all, freedom. Freedom to babble on here every single morning. Freedom to put my opinions out there without major repercussions. Freedom to be me.

Thank you to everyone who has served and everyone who knows someone or is family to someone that has served. I truly appreciate each and every one of you. This day would mean nothing without you.

And I am nothing without you, Kari, so thank you as well. I love you… and hey you!

This Day in New York Yankees History 7/4: July 4th Baseball

On this day in 1984 Yankees pitcher Phil Niekro becomes only the ninth player every to achieve 3,000 strike outs in his career.

Also on this day in 1983 Dave Righetti threw a no-hitter against the Boston Red Sox inside Yankee Stadium. This marked the first Yankees no-hitter since Don Larsen's perfect game in the 1956 World Series and the first no-hitter by a Yankees left-handed pitcher since George Mogridge did it in 1917. All at age 24.

Also on this day in 1939 the New York Yankees held Lou Gehrig Appreciation Day making Lou's #4 the first ever uniform number retired by the Yankees. Today is the day that Lou donned himself "the luckiest man on the face of the earth."
Finally on this dsy in 1930 the original "Greedy Pinstripe" was born when the former owner and "Boss" of the New York Yankees, Mr. George Steinbrenner, was born. Also a big happy birthday goes out to John Sterling, Pa Baseball!