Friday, September 29, 2017

Quick Hit: 2017 Fantasy Baseball Awards

The 2017 season is coming to a close and the 2017 fantasy season has all but concluded here so let’s take a look at who won you your respective leagues and who will be taking home the 2017 Fantasy Baseball major awards.

If you drafted Aaron Judge or Giancarlo Stanton this season you were probably very happy with your pick. Why? Chicks, and fantasy owners, dig the long ball and both players have surpassed 50 home runs this season for their respective teams. One of these two have to win the Fantasy MVP and I think, all bias aside, that Judge has to ultimately take home the award. Judge hits home runs, sure, but he also takes his walks and has a great on-base percentage and RBI total. Sure, Judge is going to strikeout a lot but like in the game and in Fantasy Baseball an out is an out no matter how you record it. Cody Bellinger and Elvis Andrus should also get at least some consideration after strong fantasy seasons.

It is easy to load up your pitching staff with Clayton Kershaw, Max Scherzer, Corey Kluber, Chris Sale or other perennial All-Star pitchers but it is usually those diamond in the rough type guys that wins you your league and three names in particular stood out for me this season in fantasy. Alex Wood of the Los Angeles Dodgers, Luis Severino of the New York Yankees and Ervin Santana of the Minnesota Twins. Where would the Twins be without Santana this season? Not in the AL Wild Card Game, you can bet that, and the same may be said for the Yankees and their sudden emerging ace Severino. Wood though may have shocked the world with his start to the 2017 season heading into the All-Star break with an 11-0 record. Wood is now an MLB 15-game winner with a sub-3.00 ERA and a miniscule WHIP making him an absolute steal for any owner that drafted him or picked him up via trade or off of waivers.

The final award we will hand out for Fantasy Baseball this season will be the Rookie of the Year. I am going to cheat a little bit and I am going to leave Judge off the list since I already handed him the MVP award and instead take the time to honor and showcase the season that Whit Merrifield had for the Kansas City Royals. No one knew the name Merrifield before Raul Mondesi Jr. began the 2017 season with a  .114 batting average as the team’s starting second baseman pushing the team to call up Merrifield from Triple-A. Merrifield has done nothing but impress since his late April call up stealing over 30 bases and pushing 20 home runs and 80 RBI keeping the Royals in the playoff chase all season long.

According to the USA Today here are the Top 15 players for your 2018 Draft. Yes, it’s early but it’s never too early for some to start preparing for next season. Enjoy.

1.     OF Mike Trout, Los Angeles Angels
2. 2B Jose Altuve, Houston Astros
3. 1B Paul Goldschmidt, Arizona Diamondbacks
4. OF Charlie Blackmon, Colorado Rockies
5. 3B Nolan Arenado, Colorado Rockies
6. SS Trea Turner, Washington Nationals
7. OF Bryce Harper, Washington Nationals
8. SP Clayton Kershaw, Los Angeles Dodgers
9. OF Giancarlo Stanton, Miami Marlins
10. SP Max Scherzer, Washington Nationals
11. OF Mookie Betts, Boston Red Sox
12. 3B Kris Bryant, Chicago Cubs
13. 1B Joey Votto, Cincinnati Reds
14. 3B Josh Donaldson, Toronto Blue Jays
15. SS Carlos Correa, Houston Astros

Yankees Potential Wild Card Game Roster

The New York Yankees are in the postseason and despite the hopes, dreams and optimism by many including myself it will be as a Wild Card winner. The good news is that Yankee Stadium will play host to the game between them and the Minnesota Twins but the bad news is that anything, and I mean anything, can happen in a one-game playoff. The Yankees can only do what they can do and take care of business on the field but what happens on the field may be directly related and linked to what manager Joe Girardi and his coaching staff is undoubtedly talking about right now off the field, the roster. The Yankees can bring 25 men with them to the Bronx to play host to the Minnesota Twins on Tuesday, October 3 but what 25 men will they bring? I’m so very glad you asked…  

The team has a number of “locks” for the postseason Wild Card round. These locks are below:  

Gary Sanchez
Greg Bird
Starlin Castro
Didi Gregorius
Todd Frazier
Brett Gardner
Jacoby Ellsbury
Aaron Judge
Austin Romine
Luis Severino
Dellin Betances
David Robertson
Chad Green
Tommy Kahnle
Aroldis Chapman 

The team also has a number of players who are very likely to make the roster, which are laid out below: 

Chase Headley
Chasen Shreve
Masahiro Tanaka
Sonny Gray
CC Sabathia
Ronald Torreyes
Jordan Montgomery
Jaime Garcia 

By my unofficial count that is 22 of the available 25 roster spots leading me to wonder what will the Yankees do with the remaining three spots? By the way I am aware that both Jordan Montgomery and Jaime Garcia would likely be unavailable due to pitching on Saturday and Sunday respectively but pitchers throw in between starts and at this point in the season I could see manager Girardi try to get an inning out of both if he could, say if the game went into extra innings or something like that. Remember, this roster is just for this one game. A new set of rosters is chosen if and when the Yankees make it to the American League Division Series.

Tyler Wade is a name that is being thrown around as teams love to have speedy base runners and defensive specialists on the bench for late-game situations. Another name that has been thrown around is Clint Frazier who has not only provided a spark for the Yankees on the field but Frazier is also someone who has molded into the team chemistry off the field and inside the clubhouse as well. Matt Holliday was signed to be the team’s everyday DH in 2017 and was doing well until a bout with the Epstein-Barr virus zapped him of his conditioning and energy. Holliday could be brought on as a power threat off the bench late in a game but the final spots may go mainly to pitching. You can never have enough pitching and with that in mind the Yankees may take a long look at one of Bryan Mitchell, Ben Heller and Jonathan Holder, all assuming that Adam Warren isn’t back from injury by then. Warren was activated today but I always remain cautiously optimistic until they have a few innings under their belt after returning from injury, especially for a back injury. 

None of the three arms have pitched much at all this month for Girardi but one of them has pitched better than the rest in an extremely small sample size and that’s Ben Heller. Girardi is a very “what have you done for me lately” kind of manager with his young guns so I can see Heller getting the spot over Giovanny Gallegos, Domingo German or the other two men mentioned previously.

In my opinion the final three spots will go to Matt Holliday (because Girardi loves his veterans), Tyler Wade (because Girardi loves his base stealers and playing a National League type game from time-to-time), and Ben Heller. Again this is all subject to change if Adam Warren is deemed ready to go by next Tuesday, if he is then the North Carolina product will get the ball. Stay tuned. 

Leave your thoughts below in the comments section. 

Game Thread: New York Yankees vs. Toronto Blue Jays 9/29

Three games left this season before the playoffs ladies and gentleman, three more games including the one that is just about ready to begin between the New York Yankees and the Toronto Blue Jays. In the start this afternoon the New York Yankees will send Masahiro Tanaka to the mound for one final tune-up before a potential playoff start for the Japanese-born right-hander while the Blue Jays will counter with Joe Biagini. The game will be played at 1:05 pm ET inside Yankee Stadium 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.

Follow us on Twitter by following @GreedyStripes and enjoy the game. Need a win, get three more wins and make the Red Sox sweat a little. Go Yankees!!!

Prediction: Yankees win 4-3

How Underrated is Didi Gregorius?

The title is a pretty straight-forward question, just how underrated is the Yankees shortstop Didi Gregorius? I’m not talking about just on the field either, I’m talking about off the field as well. How damn lucky did the New York Yankees get when they made that trade with the Arizona Diamondbacks and the Detroit Tigers a few seasons back bringing Gregorius to the Bronx? Do they even know how lucky they are with the acquisition? If the organization doesn’t they will after they get done reading this post I assure you.

Let’s start with what is quantifiable, the on-the-field version of Sir Didi. Gregorius is having another great season here in the Bronx for the Yankees and no one can notice because of the monster home run after monster home run from Aaron Judge this season. Quietly Didi has knocked Yankees great and former captain Derek Jeter from the Yankees record books here in 2017 with his 25th home run of the season, most ever by a Yankees shortstop in a single season. Didi has always been an absolute wizard defensively and is slowing showing more and more power with every passing season with the Yankees making him one of the most valuable assets that New York has every single game. Imagine if Didi hadn’t missed the first three weeks of the season with a shoulder injury, he may have 30 home runs, 100 RBI and still be pushing an on-base plus slugging over .800. If it weren’t for Judge the Yankees shortstop would be their MVP here in 2017, and it wouldn’t be much of a discussion.

Off the field the Yankees shortstop runs a charity and organization called DIDIsDEEDs helping those in need and generally doing good deeds around New York City as the name implies. Didi has been seen handing out free tickets to Yankees games on the subway and even in the CN Tower this season as a part of DIDIsDEEDs meaning the left-hander fits the mold of a Yankee off the field as well. Looking for your next Yankees captain, Didi may fit the mold. I know he didn’t come through the system and I know the captain-ship would be handed to Judge or Brett Gardner first but I’m just saying that Didi wouldn’t be a bad choice for the job either. Didi bleeds Yankees pinstripes and represents the team and the organization very well, on and off the field.

Didi for Captain, 2018. Flame me below in the comments section.

How to Lose the AL East with One Pitching Move...

Credit:  Frank Franklin II-AP
Rays 9, Yankees 6...

Despite four home runs, the Yankees fell to the Tampa Bay Rays in the series finale and their AL East title hopes are clinging on life support. I thought Manager Joe Girardi mismanaged the fateful 5th inning after Sonny Gray had relinquished the lead, bringing in the woefully inconsistent arm of Jonathan Holder when there were many superior options available.  

The first sign that Sonny Gray might not have it on Thursday night was Corey Dickerson's first inning home run to the second deck in right which gave the Rays an early 1-0 lead.  

The Yankees wasted no time in coming back when Brett Gardner and Aaron Judge led off the bottom of the 1st inning with back-to-back home runs. Both players took Rays starter Jacob Faria deep to right into the second deck. It was Judge's 51st home run of the year. The Yankees had taken the lead, 2-1.

Credit:  Noah K Murray-USA TODAY Sports

The Rays had a potential scoring opportunity in the top of the 2nd when Gray walked two batters, Daniel Robertson and Cesar Puello with only one out. There was a brief delay when a Gray pitch hit the dirt and bounced up to hit Gary Sanchez on the collarbone during Robertson's at-bat. Sanchez was able to shake it off and stay in the game. After Peter Bourjos lined out to right for the second out, Mallex Smith singled to left. The Rays third base coach Charlie Montoyo unwisely sent Daniel Robertson home rather than holding him up at third. Brett Gardner's arm was smarter than the coach as Robertson was easily thrown out at home for the final out.

The Yankees picked up another run in the bottom of the inning. Jacoby Ellsbury singled to right past a diving Lucas Duda with one out. While Todd Frazier was batting, a passed ball off the glove of Rays catcher Wilson Ramos allowed Ellsbury to take second.  Frazier then singled to left, scoring Ellsbury.  A  pitch got away from Ramos with Brett Gardner batting and Todd Frazier tried to advance to second but was thrown out. Gardy subsequently walked but Aaron Judge flied out to end the inning. As Michael Kay put it, "A sky high fly". Nevertheless, the Yankees were up 3-1.

Chih-Wei Hu took over for Jacob Faria on the mound in the bottom of the 4th (Who is on the mound? I don't know, Hu?). He was quickly introduced to the game when Greg Bird led off with a home run to the first row of the right field seats. Hu retired the next three batters, but the Yankees had increased their lead to 4-1. 

Credit:  Paul J Bereswill-NY Post

The dreadful 5th inning arrived with Sonny Gray still on the mound for the Yankees. The previous inning had gone so well for Gray. Three outs on six pitches. It was hard to foresee the disaster that awaited him in the 5th. Gray was able to get the first batter, Peter Bourjos, out on a grounder to short. Then the Rays rally began. Mallex Smith singled to right on a fly that dropped in.  Corey Dickerson hit a line drive to center for a single with Smith moving to third. A wild pitch from Gray allowed Smith to come home to score. Gary Sanchez tried to throw to Gray covering home but his throw was too far right for Gray to catch as Smith slid safely into home plate. Sanchez was charged a throwing error on the play as it allowed Dickerson to advance two bases to third.  

Credit:  Abbie Parr-Getty Images

Evan Longoria struck out for the second out, but Dickerson subsequently scored when a passed ball went through El Gary's legs. Lucas Duda walked, and it brought Yankees pitching coach Larry Rothschild out to the mound. It always seems like Larry's talks fail and this was no exception. The next batter, Wilson Ramos, homered to center just over the wall into Monument Park and the Rays had taken a 5-4 lead.  

Credit:  Frank Franklin II-AP

Adeiny Hechavarria followed with a single to center and it was the end for Sonny Gray. Gray made a couple of throws to first during Daniel Robertson's at bat to buy time for the bullpen, but I have to admit that I was bewildered by Joe Girardi's decision to bring in Jonathan Holder even though I'd seen Holder warming up. Holder is a fine prospect and did a decent job for the Scranton/Wilkes-Barre RailRiders but he hasn't really pitched in many big spots for the Yankees this year. He may eventually become a leading arm in the pen but I would have gone with one of the tried and true in an effort to keep the game close. Holder hit the first batter he faced, Daniel Robertson, with a pitch.  Runners at first and second. Cesar Puello singled to center on a ball that dropped in front of Jacoby Ellsbury with Hechavarria coming around to score.  Robertson moved to second. Peter Bourjos tripled to left on fly that hit the warning track and bounced off the wall, clearing the bases, and it was 8-4 Rays. Girardi finally pulled Holder and brought in Chasen Shreve who struck out Mallex Smith to end the inning. But the Rays had scored seven runs.

In the bottom of the 5th, with Tommy Hunter taking over for Chih-Wei Hu, Brett Gardner led off with a walk. After Aaron Judge struck out, Gary Sanchez was hit by a pitch on the back of his left shoulder. Runners at first and second.

Credit:  Abbie Parr-Getty Images

Didi Gregorius hit a grounder to second and the Rays were able to force Sanchez for the second out, with Gardy moving to third. Starlin Castro hit an infield single to short, beating the throw to first which brought Gardner home to score. Greg Bird, representing the potential tying run, struck out to end the inning but the Yankees had gotten a run back, 8-5.  

With Chasen Shreve still on the mound, the Yankees retired the first two Rays in the top of the 6th. But Trevor Plouffe, pinch-hitting for Lucas Duda, homered to left into the second deck, to restore the Rays' four run lead. Shreve walked Wilson Ramos next and was pulled in favor of Ben Heller. Heller struck out Adeiny Hechavarria to end the inning without any further damage.

The Rays bullpen kept the Yankees offense quiet from there. Aaron Hicks, pinch-hitting for Todd Frazier, did manage to hit a solo home run to right into the bullpen in the bottom of the 9th against Chaz Roe but it was too little, too late. The other Yankees went down quietly, with Aaron Judge flying out to right to end the game.

This was a disappointing loss and I am bewildered why Girardi trusted Holder with the game on the line when the pitcher has done nothing this year at the MLB level to warrant consideration at that point. The Boston Red Sox lost 12-2 to the Houston Astros so the Yankees (89-70) could have picked up a game. Instead, they remain three games out with three to play.  The best they can do is tie the Red Sox if they sweep the Blue Jays and the Astros sweep the Red Sox. More than likely, the Red Sox sew up the AL East title either tonight or tomorrow.  

I hate losing winnable games. If the 5th inning hadn't gotten away from the Yankees, they would have/could have won this game. If the Yankees play like this next Tuesday against the Minnesota Twins, it's going to be a very short post-season experience.  

Next Up:  Toronto Blue Jays at Yankee Stadium, Bronx, NY...

And so, we've reached the final series of the regular season. It seems like we were just playing exhibition games at Steinbrenner Field in Tampa. The Blue Jays completed a successful three-game road trip in Boston on Wednesday, winning two of three games. They are also the only team to win a series against the Yankees this month. Hopefully, the wins come our way in the latest and final series before the post-season begins.

Here are the scheduled pitching match-ups:

Blue Jays:  Joe Biagini (3-12, 5.34 ERA)
Yankees:  Masahiro Tanaka (12-12, 4.94 ERA)

Blue Jays:  Marcus Stroman (13-8, 3.06 ERA)
Yankees:  Jaime Garcia (1-3, 4.70 ERA)

Blue Jays:  Brett Anderson (2-2, 6.04 ERA)
Yankees:  Jordan Montgomery (9-7, 3.96 ERA)

This is most likely Jaime Garcia's final start for the Yankees. I hope that it's not the final regular season start for Masahiro Tanaka's Yankees career. We all know that this is just the conclusion of the great start of Jordan Montgomery's career in Pinstripes. Looking forward to many successful wins going forward, including the 2017 post-season.

Odds & Ends...

The Yankees are planning to activate RHP Adam Warren off the disabled list today. Hopefully, he'll be able to get in some work this weekend in preparation for the post-season (which, we hope and pray, is much longer than a one-game stay).  

Have a great weekend! Let's get the momentum rolling for October! Go Yankees!

Game Preview: New York Yankees vs. Toronto Blue Jays 9/29

Good morning ladies and gentleman and welcome to the final weekend of the 2017 MLB regular season. Three games left before the postseason, three games before the Yankees play host to the Minnesota Twins in the AL Wild Card Game. Three games before the stats are wiped clean and the last 162 games of the season don’t matter anymore. Three. More Games. In the start this afternoon, while we are on that note does anyone else think it’s weird to be played at Friday afternoon game in the Bronx today, the Yankees will send Masahiro Tanaka to the mound for his final tune-up before the postseason while the Blue Jays will counter with Joe Biagini.

Tanaka has struggled in two of his last three outings which, in the words of Yankees manager Joe Girardi, is not what you want heading into the playoffs. Tanaka struggled against the Rangers and these Toronto Blue Jays in those two starts including a three home run game against the Jays inside the Rogers Centre on September 22.

Biagini has been consistently inconsistent all season long so no one, not even Joe himself, knows what to expect out of him this afternoon in the Bronx. In Biagini’s last start the Jays starter allowed three runs in five innings of work with four walks scattered in and if he does that against the Yankees this afternoon it will likely be another victory for New York.

The game will be played at 1:05 pm ET inside Yankee Stadium 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, need a win so get three more wins and stay red hot for the postseason. Go Yankees!

So it Seems… This Team Just Keeps Having Fun

Good morning everyone and Happy Friday. My apologies for the absence on the blog yesterday but sometimes life just happens and there’s not much else you can do about it. I’ll try to do better. One team that can’t really do much better is the New York Yankees who are on an absolute roll here in September. The team is having one of their best September’s in a long time and they are having so much fun doing it, aren’t they? I mean isn’t it apparent? With the thumbs down after every RBI hit and home run, the celebrations in the dugout and the fake interviews by the players. This is a team, not just a collection of players. This team has gelled and fun is being had by all, a great sign for a young and loose team that is headed to the postseason.

Keep having fun, keep winning games and don’t stop until the calendar runs out of games to play. Enjoy the game, it is a game after all. Everyone I hope you have a great weekend. Especially you, HEY YOU. I love you Kari!

This Day In New York Yankees History 9/29: Don Mattingly Has Six Grand Slams

Don Mattingly had a career with the bases loaded in 1987 as he hit more home runs with the bases loaded this season then some people hit in their entire careers. Mattingly set a major league record on this day by hitting his sixth grand slam of the season passing Ernie Banks (1955 Chicago Cubs) and Jim Gentile (1961 Baltimore Orioles). What makes this more amazing is Mattingly played 14 seasons in his career and never hit another grand slam outside of the 1987 season.

Also on this day in 1934 Babe Ruth hit his 659th and final home run in a New York Yankees uniform. Ruth had 49 home runs with the Boston Red Sox before being sold to New York and would add six more with the Boston Braves before retiring in the 1935 season.