Thursday, July 6, 2017

Quick Hit: Yankees Sign David Metzgar

Another day and another non-drafted free agent signed by the New York Yankees. This time around it is Cal State Bakersfield’s David Metzgar out of Bakersfield, California. Metzgar is listed as an infielder and outfielder on the school’s website so a bit of versatility may be headed to the Yankees system after Metzgar passed a physical this week.

In four seasons at CSUB the second baseman posted a .336/.393/.427/.820 slash line with two home runs and 136 RBI. The Baseball Cube has their own set of unique rankings systems much like scouts use with their 20-80 rankings which may help explain what kind of player Metzgar is. The rankings are similar to scout’s rankings and the full explanation can be seen on the Baseball Cube’s website.

Speed: 72
Power: 44
Contact: 84
XBH: 42
RBI: 69
Hitting: 86
Durability: 95

Metzgar is a second baseman and will be the 21st player in CSUB history to sign a professional contract so congratulations to him and congratulations to the school. Welcome to the family David!

The Next Baby Bomber – Caleb Smith

The youth movement is in full effect in the Bronx as it seems like the New York Yankees are calling up a new prospect every single series. Miguel Andujar up, Miguel Andujar down the next day. Tyler Austin up, Tyler Austin injured and Tyler Austin straight back down. Dustin Fowler, Tyler Wade, Rob Refsnyder, Clint Frazier, Jordan Montgomery and the list goes on and on. Could the next baby bomber on that list be left-handed pitcher Caleb Smith?

Smith is currently pitching in Triple-A with the Scranton/Wilkes Barre RailRiders and while he is no Chance Adams, and let me take a quick second to once again marvel at what Adams is doing for the Yankees Triple-A affiliate right now, the lefty has been quite impressive for some time now. The Chicago Cubs took Smith in the Rule 5 Draft from the Yankees only to return him to the organization and the lefty has been pitching with a proverbial chip on his shoulder ever since.

Smith made one relief appearance in Double-A with the Trenton Thunder before pitching his next 15 games, at the time of this writing anyway, at Triple-A including 14 of them as a starting pitcher. Smith has somehow quietly posted a 7-0 record with a 2.20 ERA with 80 strikeouts in 82 innings of work for the RailRiders. Smith’s command is top notch and his stats are as well which helped him earn a spot in the Triple-A All-Star Game in 2017 which will be played on Wednesday, July 12 in Tacoma, Washington’s Cheney Stadium.

Smith is not on the Yankees 40 man roster as of right now but could be added relatively easy, the Yankees have shown this time-and-time again this season. Smith may be the ideal candidate for a call-up if the Yankees need another arm soon rather than rushing Adams who still has a couple things to work on in Triple-A including his command. There’s no reason to start Adams’ service time clock if you don’t need to and the Yankees may not need to with a secret weapon in Smith sitting there in Triple-A just waiting on the call.

If the Yankees need an arm they need to make the call because not only is Smith ready, but he’s earned it as well. I have a sneaking suspicion we will be seeing you soon, Caleb. 

Quick Hit: Yankees Sign Jose Carrera

The New York Yankees have been busy on the non-drafted free agent market since the 2017 MLB Draft ended signing a few prospects to minor league deals including senior Jose Carrera. Carrera was attending Manhattan University and played baseball for the school’s Manhattan Jaspers team where he finished his senior season with a .266 average with seven doubles, two triples and 11 stolen bases.

Carrera led the Jaspers to MAAC play after qualifying for the MAAC Tournament on the final day of the season. During the MAAC tournament Carrera upped his game hitting .299. Carrera was assigned to the Gulf Coast Yankees West team joining former assistant coach Elvys Quezada who recently joined the GCL Yankees as a coach.

His former coach, Jim Duffy, was interviewed by the school’s website when news broke about Carrera signing with the Yankees and here is what he had to say about Carrera:

"I'm thrilled for Jose to have the opportunity to play at the next level within the Yankees organization. He has been the heart and soul of the Manhattan Baseball program over the last four years. Now he has his chance to chase his dream. I'm proud of him and his perseverance. He's a great example that hard work, faith and believing in yourself can go a long way."

Welcome to the organization Jose and also, welcome to the family. 

My Thoughts on Judge & Sanchez in the Home Run Derby

The 2017 All-Star Game Home Run Derby field is set and despite some objections from Logan Morrison there are two members of the New York Yankees that will be participating in the event, Aaron Judge and Gary Sanchez. Here are my thoughts on the inclusion of both Judge and Sanchez in the event and I may even rant a little bit on Morrison too, you never know. Keep reading to find out.

Aaron Judge is leading the world right now in home runs and has each of the top four hardest hit home runs in 2017 so it makes sense why the Yankees right fielder would be invited but many, including Morrison, are wondering why Sanchez, the Yankees catcher, was chosen. My thought process is this, why not? The game is going through a youth infusion and these are the two biggest names on arguably the biggest and most recognizable franchise in Major League Baseball. You want to grow not only new fans but young fans? Showcase players like Cody Bellinger, Sanchez and Judge in the Home Run Derby. Period.

Now many worry about how the derby has seemingly messed with players swings and screwed up their routines in the second half but I am truly not worried about that happening to either of these players. Judge and Sanchez have both asked their batting practice pitcher Danilo Valiente to throw to them at the derby and both players are treating this as a glorified round of batting practice. If you’ve ever been to the stadium early enough to watch either Judge or Sanchez take batting practice you know that both put on an absolute show in the Bronx so this should be light work for the duo.

In years past I have worried about Yankees participating in the Home Run Derby, most notably Robinson Cano, but this year for whatever reason I’m not. Call it a gut feeling, call it youth winning over aggression for once or just call it a total shot in the dark but that’s my opinion and I am sticking to it.

The Home Run Derby will go down on July 10 inside Marlins Park down in Miami as a part of the All-Star Game festivities. The entire lineup includes Aaron Judge (NYY), Gary Sanchez (NYY), Miguel Sano (MIN) and Mike Moustakas (KC) for the American League while Giancarlo Stanton (MIA) looks to defend his title alongside Justin Bour (MIA), Cody Bellinger (LAD) and Charlie Blackmon (COL) for the National League.

50 Ways To Lose A Game...

Credit:  John Munson-NJ Advance Media for
Blue Jays 7, Yankees 6...

I am not sure who to blame this one on.  Michael Pineda was awful at the beginning and Dellin Betances was awful near the end.  In between, the Yankees tried to make it a game but once again, the pitching staff gave away a freebie to the opponent as the Yankees fell to the Toronto Blue Jays.

The Blue Jays picked up their first run in the top of the 1st inning, aided by an error.  Jose Bautista led off the game with a single.  After Russell Martin flied out to center,  Justin Smoak singled.  An error by Jacoby Ellsbury, he bobbled Smoak's hit, allowed Bautista to score and Smoak to move to second.  

The second inning saw the Blue Jays pick up a couple more hits but they were unable to score, thanks primarily to a double play that erased the first runner.  Pineda wasn't so lucky in the 3rd inning.  Jose Bautista walked to open the inning.  After Russell Martin hit a grounder into a fielder's choice that erased Bautista at second, Justin Smoak hit a two-run shot to right.  3-0, Blue Jays.  Then, Kendrys Morales followed Smoak with a solo shot to center, 4-0 Jays.  

Kevin Pillar led off the 4th inning with a homer to increase the Jays' lead to 5-0.  The next batter, Ryan Goins, followed with a single which mercifully ended Pineda's day.  3 innings, 9 hits, 5 runs, 3 HR's.  If you want to know how you can ensure that you will not be part of the 2018 Yankees, just watch Pineda.  

Credit:  John Munson-NJ Advance Media for
The Yankees valiantly fought back.  Aaron Judge got the party started with a two-run shot in the 4th inning.  The home run, Judge's 29th of the year, tied the Yankees record for most home runs in a season by a rookie held by Joe DiMaggio.  In the 5th inning, Jacoby Ellsbury opened with a single which brought Ji-Man Choi, making his Yankees debut in this game, to the plate.  Choi, bringing the cry of "Ji-Man is the He-Man!  Oh boy, oh Choi!" from radio announcer John Sterling, homered to right, bringing the Yankees within a run, 5-4.  

Credit:  John Munson-NJ Advance Media for
Austin Romine and Brett Gardner then walked, and Aaron Judge singled to load the bases.  With two outs, Didi Gregorius doubled to right, bringing home both Romine and Gardner, as the Yankees captured their first lead of the game, 6-5.  

The Yankees remained in the lead until the 7th inning.  With Chad Green on the mound and working his second inning of relief, former Yankee Russell Martin led off with a solo shot to right center.  Game tied.  Green was able to man up after that and exited the 7th with no further damage.  

On to the 8th inning and Dellin Betances...

Back when I played softball, I used to get mad when the pitcher for our team would drink about 3 or 4 beers before the game and then struggle immensely while trying to find the strike zone, walking in runs.  Watching Dellin Betances pitch the 8th was kind of like that.  No offense but Betances is not an All-Star pitcher at this moment in time.  He walked the first three batters he faced (Miguel Montero, Kevin Pillar, and Ryan Goins) to load the bases.  He somehow found the strike zone for Jose Bautista but then walked Russell Martin to allow Montero to score the go-ahead (and eventual winning) run.  Adam Warren had to come in to clean up the mess.  

Credit:  John Munson-NJ Advance Media for
The Yankees did not have another rally in them.  The stage was set when Brett Gardner singled with two outs in the bottom of the 9th against Jays closer Roberto Osuna which brought Aaron Judge to the plate representing the tying and go-ahead runs.  A home run in that spot would have set up Judge as one of the greatest heroes of the new Yankee Stadium.  Unfortunately, that will have to wait for another day.  Judge went down swinging and the Yankees were pinned for yet another loss.  Betances (3-4) took the loss but based on that performance they should have given him 3 or 4 losses instead of just 1.  The last Yankees pitcher to walk four batters in a third of an inning or less was Edwar Ramirez in 2007.  Tyler Clippard included, this was one of the worst Yankee bullpen appearances of the year.  Adam Warren was perfect in his 1 2/3 innings of work.  I guess he missed the memo about mandatory bullpen implosions while he was on the DL.  

Credit:  Kathy Willens-AP
Some losses just make me mad.  This was one of them.  It's as if the Yankees pitchers from Masahiro Tanaka to Tyler Clippard to Betances are passing the "I Suck!" stick with Aroldis Chapman auditioning for the next turn with the baton.  It doesn't help when you also have Luis Severino and Michael Pineda fighting for a turn.

The Yankees (44-39) continue their downward spiral.  Fortunately, they didn't lose any ground in the AL East as the Texas Rangers finally stopped the Boston Red Sox, 8-2.  The Yanks continue to trail the Sox by four games. The Tampa Bay Rays lost to the Chicago Cubs, 7-3, so they remain 1.5 games behind the Yankees.  

Next Up:  Milwaukee Brewers at Yankee Stadium

The Yankees will entertain the Milwaukee Brewers for the final series before the All-Star Break.  The Brewers are fresh off a three-game sweep of the Baltimore Orioles in Milwaukee.  Here are the scheduled pitching match-ups:

Brewers:  Junior Guerra (1-3, 4.93 ERA)
Yankees:  Jordan Montgomery (6-4, 3.62 ERA)

Brewers:  Brent Suter (1-1, 3.00 ERA)
Yankees:  Luis Severino (5-4, 3.52 ERA)

Brewers:  Jimmy Nelson (7-4, 3.20 ERA)
Yankees:  Masahiro Tanaka (7-7, 5.25 ERA)

Hopefully, Aaron Judge and Gary Sanchez can get in some good "practice" for Monday's Home Run Derby.  With a four-game set in Boston to start the second half, Dellin Betances needs to find himself in this series.  

Odds & Ends...

The Yankees have reportedly added a few more international prospects. Dominican Republic:  Stanley Rosario, OF; Miguel Marte, SS; Albert Vega, RHP; Nelson Medina, CF; Ezequiel Duran, SS; and Jose Martinez, 3B.  Venezuela:  Engelbert Ascanio, C.  Previously, it was reported the Yankees have signed Everson Pereira, an outfielder from Venezuela (ranked fourth on BA's list of top international prospects); Roberto Chirinos, a shortstop also from Venezuela; and Anthony Garcia, an outfielder from the Dominican Republic.  There is some question about which position Chirinos will play and it is possible that he may be switched to catcher.  The Yankees are also expected to sign Ronny Rojas, a shortstop from the Dominican Republic, when he turns 16 on August 23rd.  Gary Sanchez signed as a 16-year-old in 2009 which shows how long it will be before we potentially see any of these guys at the Major League level.  

Although CC Sabathia lost on the 4th of July, the starting pitchers for the Yankees' top three farm teams celebrated the holiday with masterful pitching as they combined for 20 innings of scoreless ball.  Nice job, Baby Bombers!

AAA-Scranton/Wilkes-Barre (7-0 win over the Buffalo Bisons):
Caleb Smith (8-0), 5.0 IP, 2 H, 0 ER/R, 1 BB, 6 SO

AA-Trenton Thunder (2-0 win over the Reading Fightin Phils)
Brody Koerner (1-0), 8.0 IP, 9 H, 0 ER/R, 1 BB, 1 SO

High A-Tampa Yankees (2-1 win over the Fort Myers Miracle)
Ian Clarkin (no decision), 7.0 IP, 4 H, 0 ER/R, 0 BB, 5 SO

The Yankees have released LHP Tommy Layne, who had been pitching for Triple A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre after being designated for assignment earlier in the season.  I am okay with this move.  Make way for younger, talented arms.

Have a great Thursday!  I think all of us could stand a day guaranteed not to include a Yankees loss.  Tomorrow is a new day.  Let's Go Yankees!

Meet a Prospect: The Four IFA’s in the Top 50 from 2017

The International signing period for international free agents opened up on July 2 like it does every season and like every season a flurry of activity happened on day one. The Yankees had been under spending restrictions for the past two signing periods after going nuts on IFA’s in 2014 but in 2017 there would be no such spending restrictions for New York. The Yankees came out in a big way this week signing four of the Top 50 prospects on this year’s IFA market. Let’s meet them. This is Meet a Prospect: the Everson Pereira, Roberto Chirinios, Anthony Garcia and Ronny Rojas Edition.

Everson Pereira is an outfielder out of Venezuela that the New York Yankees signed for a cool $1.5 million. Pereira was named the 4th best prospect from this year’s class according to Ben Badler and Baseball America due to his great speed, strong arm and above average defense. Pereira has a short, fluid swing that many see developing power as he grows into his body. Pereira puts the ball in play, takes his walks and uses his legs to wreak havoc on the base paths once he gets there.

Roberto Chirinios is a shortstop who is also out of Venezuela that the Yankees organization added for $900,000. Chirinios was ranked as the 20th best prospect to come out of this class according to Ben Badler and Baseball America although right now it’s unclear whether Chirinios will be able to stick at short.

Anthony Garcia is an outfielder from the Dominican Republic that will begin his professional career with the Yankees organization after agreeing to sign for $450,000. Garcia was ranked 28th overall in this season’s class by Ben Badler and Baseball America.

Ronny Rojas hasn’t officially signed with the Yankees since he is just 15-years old but will when he turns 16-years old in August of this season. Rojas was the 11th best prospect from this season’s class according to Baseball American for his fluid motions and strong throwing arm at the shortstop position. Rojas is originally from the Dominican Republic.

As a side note the Yankees also signed Dominican outfielder Stanley Rosario for $300,000 and Dominican shortstop Miguel Marte for $200,000 in a set of relatively minor deals for the organization. Not to say these young men can’t grow into something more, there are countless instances where the Yankees and many teams found lightning in a bottle with prospects after signing them for $300,000 or less, but neither were ranked in the Top 50 according to Baseball America. 

So it Seems the Deadline & An Off Day is Coming

So it seems like there may be a deadline coming and I didn’t even know it. Interesting.

The July 31st trading deadline is coming to Major League Baseball whether anyone knows it or is ready or not and we have been preparing for this day for what seems like at least a month now. Will the Yankees buy? Will the Yankees sell? Will the team stand pat and continue the youth movement whether it damns the team for 2017 or not? I honestly have no earthly idea as we sit here in the first week of July and I probably won’t have an idea for at least a couple more weeks.

Either way you look at it the deadline and the ultimate ultimatum are coming. Are you ready? Hey you. 

This Day In New York Yankees History 7/6: Hello Brandon McCarthy

On this day in 2014 the New York Yankees acquired Brandon McCarthy from the Arizona Diamondbacks along with some cash to offset his salary for starting pitcher Vidal Nuno and a prospect. McCarthy was a great trade for the Yankees as he reinvented himself and kept the team in the playoff chase for much of the second half.

Also on this day in 2014 the Yankees finally designated struggling outfielder Alfonso Soriano for assignment to make room for Bruce Billings in the bullpen. Soriano had burst onto the scene in the second half of 2013 with the team but could not replicate that success in 2014. Soriano would later retire after the designation.

Also on this day in 2002 the Yankees were in a center field plaque kind of mood again as they unveiled one for Reggie Jackson prior to Old Timers Day. Jackson spent five seasons in New York and helped the Yankees reach the playoffs four times and win two World Series in 1977 and 1978.

Also on this day in 1941 the Yankees construct and unveil and center field monument for the late Lou Gehrig at Yankee Stadium. The memorial was much like the memorial the Yankees bestowed on Miller Huggins in 1932. This was a tribute from Gehrig's teammates to their beloved captain who died just a month earlier of ALS.

Finally on this day in 1938 and the All Star Game was being played at Crosley Field with the New York Yankees Lefty Gomez on the mound to start against the National League. This was Gomez's fourth All Star start and his first loss as the NL beat the AL 4-1. The NL shortstop Leo Durocher becomes the first Dodger to start in an All Star Game and gets a bunt home run.