Saturday, July 28, 2018

Game Thread: New York Yankees vs. Kansas City Royals 7/28

And just like that it is game time here in the Bronx between the New York Yankees and the Kansas City Royals. In the third game of a four-game set between these two clubs the Yankees will send out Luis Severino to the mound to face off with Heath Fillmyer for the Royals. Who? That was my reaction as well, I cannot lie. The game will be played at 1:05 pm ET inside Yankee Stadium and can be seen on the YES Network and MLB Network. You can also follow along with the game on MLB TV, with the MLB At-Bat app and by tuning into the Yankees radio broadcast on WFAN with the legendary duo of John Sterling and Suzyn Waldman.

Follow us on Twitter, @GreedyStripes, and “Like” us on Facebook, The Greedy Pinstripes, to keep up with us and the team all season long. Enjoy the game, begin to chase down the Red Sox in the American League East division race, and go Yankees!!

Meet a Prospect Special Edition: JA Happ

The price for a starting pitcher in this year’s trade market is apparently pretty high. Now while I wouldn’t go as far as to say the price is astronomical, I have to admit that if I knew that the Yankees were going to trade both outfielder Billy McKinney and infielder Brandon Drury and his three years of team control for a starter I’d have to say I expected a little bit more back than JA Happ. That is not meant to be a diss or disrespectful by any means, but I just think that is kind of a lot for a rental starting pitcher. Happ is a seasoned veteran that has a great history of keeping down the bats on the Boston Red Sox specifically, and I am under no delusions that either McKinney or Drury had a true future here with the team either, so the deal makes sense… and the deal is done whether we like it, or we don’t, so let’s meet him. This is Meet a Prospect Special Edition: The JA Happ Edition.

James Anthony “JA” Happ was born on October 19, 1982 in Peru, Illinois. Happ was the youngest of three children, he had two older sisters, and attended St. Bede Academy where the lefty was a four-year letter winner in both baseball and basketball. After attending St. Bede, the left-hander enrolled at Northwestern University where he played college baseball for the Northwestern Wildcats. Happ spent three seasons with Northwestern before catching the eye of the Philadelphia Phillies who selected Happ in the third round, 92nd overall, of the 2004 MLB First Year Players Draft. Happ decided to forego his senior season at Northwestern and signed with the Phillies almost immediately after the draft, thus starting his professional career. Happ was immediately assigned to the Short-season A-level New York-Penn League (home of the Staten Island Yankees) where he made 11 starts and posted a 2.02 ERA.

Happ continued to impress within the Phillies system from 2005 through 2007 before the Phillies had a need for an arm at the Major League level on June 30, 2007. Happ was called up to make a start against the New York Mets, a start that he would presumably like to forget that saw the southpaw allow five runs in a loss. Happ would return to Triple-A after the start and would not make it back to the big leagues that season. Happ began the 2008 season back in Triple-A before once again reaching the big leagues with Philadelphia on July 4, 2008. Happ made two starts before landing back in Triple-A on July 23, but he was recalled on July 29th to the big-league club. Instead of pitching as a starter Happ was placed in the bullpen in his third stint with the Phillies, an experiment that lasted two days before Happ was once again sent back down to Triple-A where he would finish out much of his 2008 season. Happ was a September call up that season and was even named to the postseason roster that year pitching in one game in the NLCS, thus earning a World Series ring when the Phillies beat the Tampa Bay Rays for their second ever World Series championship.

Happ was back with the big-league club in 2009, first in the bullpen and eventually in the starting rotation after Chan Ho Park was demoted to the pen due to struggles, and the Phillies were steamrolling the National League with the intentions of returning back to the World Series. Happ would finish second in the NL Rookie of the Year vote this season, but the Phillies would ultimately fall to the New York Yankees in the 2009 World Series. Happ was back with the Phillies starting rotation in 2010, but was ultimately traded to the Houston Astros on July 29, 2010 along with Anthony Gose and Jonathan Villar in exchange for RHP Roy Oswalt. Happ struggled mightily with the Astros in 2010 through 2012 prompting Houston to trade the struggling left-hander to the Toronto Blue Jays on July 20, 2012. Happ went to Toronto along with Brandon Lyon and David Carpenter while the Astros received Francisco Cordero, Ben Francisco, Asher Wojciechowski, David Rollins, Joe Musgrove, Carlos Perez and Kevin Comer. What a haul!

The Blue Jays pitched Happ out of their bullpen until the demotion of starter Brett Cecil to the bullpen. Happ would not start long though after having to undergo surgery on a fractured foot in September of 2012, thus ending his season prematurely. Happ only made 10 appearances with Toronto in 2012, six as a starter, but ultimately did enough to lead the Blue Jays to offer him a one-year contract worth $3.7 million to avoid arbitration for the 2013 season. The contract was the highlight of the 2013 season for Happ, especially considering that Happ was hit in the head by a line drive that season off the bat of Desmond Jennings. Happ would remain on the disabled list from May 7, 2013 to August 5, 2013 due to lacerations to his left ear and a head contusion. The 2013 season also marked the year that Happ lost his grandfather.

Happ was back with the Blue Jays in 2014 hoping for a much better season than his 2013 season, and he began the season on the disabled list. That’s not what you want. Once returned from the DL the Blue Jays placed Happ back in their bullpen, although he did regain a spot back in the rotation when Dustin McGowan was removed from the rotation. Happ pitched well as the Blue Jays 5th starter in 2014 pitching to a 11-11 record and a 4.22 ERA with 133 strikeouts and a 1.34 WHIP in 158 innings pitched. How did the Blue Jays reward his breakout season in 2014 you ask? By shipping him off to the Seattle Mariners on December 3, 2014 for outfielder Michael Saunders. Happ made 20 starts and one relief appearance for the Mariners in 2015 compiling a 4-6 record and a 4.64 ERA before Seattle traded Happ to the Pittsburgh Pirates on July 31, 2015. The Pirates gave up Adrian Sampson for the left-hander and enjoyed 11 starts from him. Happ posted an impressive 7-2 record with a 1.85 ERA and 69 strikeouts down the stretch for Pittsburgh before hitting free agency before the 2016 season.

Happ wasted no time on the free agent market signing back with the Toronto Blue Jays on November 27, 2015 on a three-year deal worth $36 million. Happ enjoyed a breakout season of sorts with Toronto in 2016 winning 12 games before the All-Star break and finishing the year with a 20-4 record and a 3.18 ERA with 163 strikeouts in 195 innings pitched. Happ finished sixth in the AL Cy Young Award voting for 2016 and led the team to a victory in Game Two of the 2016 ALDS. Happ came into the 2017 season looking for much of the same with the Blue Jays, but a disabled list trip due to left elbow inflammation would cost him six weeks of his 2017 season. Happ pitched well but never could replicate his 20-win season from the year prior.

In 2018 the Blue Jays named Happ their Opening Day starter, a game that Happ and the Blue Jays would lose to the New York Yankees 6-1. Happ was named to the 2018 MLB All-Star Game as well before being the subject of trade rumors due to his team struggling mightily in the standings. Ultimately, the New York Yankees acquired Happ for infielder Brandon Drury and outfielder Billy McKinney for the stretch run.

Happ will bring his five-pitch repertoire to the Bronx that includes a four-seam fastball that touched 90-95 MPH, a slider that stays in the 84-86 MPH range, a curveball that sticks around 77-79 MPH and a changeup that sits around 84 MPH. Happ does not use his changeup against left-handed hitters and commonly mixes his curveball in with his fastball in two-strike counts to get outs.

Welcome to the organization, J.A., and welcome to the Yankees family!! Here’s to getting you another World Series ring.

Mother Nature Beats Yankees Again...

Photo Credit: Getty Images (Elsa)
Ninth Postponement of the Season…

Friday brought another weather-related postponement for our favorite baseball team. It was the ninth of the season. The Yankees and the Kansas City Royals will play two today as a result with a day/night double-header. In one of the most used phrases ever in the Yankees Universe, ‘it’s not what you want’.  

I guess if there is a positive, the Yankees opponent today will be a little weaker. They lost significant power with last night’s trade of Mike Moustakas to the Milwaukee Brewers. The Brewers, who aggressively lost out on Manny Machado, presumably will move third baseman, and former Red Sock, Travis Shaw to second to make room at third for Moose Tacos. I am a little disappointed the Yankees were unable to acquire Moose. His left-handed bat would have played nicely at Yankee Stadium, and his power would have helped compensate for the temporary losses of Aaron Judge and Gary Sanchez. I don’t really see any other options on the market that would appeal to me as greatly as Moustakas, who was batting .249/.309/.468, .778 OPS, with 20 homers and 62 RBIs.  

I was a little surprised to see him end up with Milwaukee. Earlier in the day, it had been reported the Brewers were in heavy talks with the Baltimore Orioles for second baseman Jonathan Schoop and possibly RHP Kevin Gausman. They must have pivoted to the Royals over a failure to make any headway with Orioles GM Dan Duquette or whomever is running the show for the O’s these days (surprise, surprise).  

I keep hearing Curtis Granderson’s name as a possibility. I enjoyed his time in Pinstripes but at this stage of his career, I am not really interested in a reunion. He is 37 years old and is no longer the player he once was. The Grandy Man is batting .231/.334/.421, .756 OPS, with 10 home runs and 31 RBIs in 288 plate appearances. No thanks. I’d rather get Clint Frazier healthy although admittedly I don’t know how long that will take. Oh man, my head hurts. No wait, that’s Frazier, not me.

Another name that seems to come up frequently is Jose Martinez of the St Louis Cardinals. The Aaron Judge-sized first baseman/outfielder has put up some good numbers this year (.295/.358/.463, 13 homers, 58 RBIs) but he is losing playing time because of his poor defensive skills. I am not interested in a guy who can only DH. Any acquisition the Yankees make would need to be someone who can continue to help the team after Judge and Sanchez return in late August or early September.  

I guess it’s not the end of the world for the Yankees to roll with what they currently have. I may not be Neil Walker’s greatest fan but I recognize he plays better with regular playing time. Using DH as a rotation between Walker and Neil Walker is certainly passable for a few weeks. I thought Tyler Austin would be the one to get the call when Aaron Judge was placed on the disabled list but the Yankees went with Tyler Wade instead. From a defensive perspective, Wade makes more sense. He can field the corner outfield positions better than Austin, making him a more useful fourth outfielder-type. But he can also spell relief at second and short, something Austin obviously cannot do. The only guy on the roster who doesn’t make sense to me right now, excluding Chasen Shreve, is outfielder Shane Robinson but he is expected to be demoted today to make room for J.A. Happ.  

The month of August is filled with winnable series. The only playoff contender they face is the Boston Red Sox with a four-game series starting Thursday, August 2nd. They won’t see a potential playoff team again until Labor Day (Monday, September 3rd) when they travel to Oakland, CA to take on Dustin Fowler and the Athletics. My concern is the difficulty the Yankees have had with losing teams this year. Boston is winning the games they are supposed to and as it stands right now, it is why they are the first place club in the AL East. Last night, they blew a lead in the ninth inning but still came back to tie it to push the game into extra innings where they won it on a walk-off home run by Mookie Betts. They are finding ways to beat the losing clubs. Sorry, Minnesota. Meanwhile, the Yankees are struggling against those teams. Well, maybe not against the Twins, but the other losing teams. The Twins, who apparently have given up on the season (they are 12 1/2 games out in the Wild Card chase), are a weaker team today after trading infielder Eduardo Escobar to the Arizona Diamondbacks yesterday and reliever Ryan Pressly to the Houston Astros last night. I am sure the Red Sox are salivating although they probably could have used Pressly themselves if only Dave Dombrowski had not stripped the cupboards of quality prospects.  

Apparently the weather is impacting J.A. Happ’s ability to get to New York City. His flight was cancelled yesterday so he has yet to join the team.  He is expected to arrive today. I am always curious about numbers since there is such a limited selection with so many retired numbers. Happ will take number 34, a number previously worn by A.J. Burnett and Brian McCann. With Zach Britton getting Phil Nevin’s #53, the third base coach will flip the numbers to grab 35. Happ is expected to get the start in the series finale with the Royals tomorrow although we’ll see if Happ’s late arrival alters those plans.

The Yankees received some good news for Sonny Gray. Assuming he is not traded, Gray will make his next start as planned. X-rays on his thumb were negative and he’s feeling much better after the come-backer off his right hand during Thursday’s game.  

For today’s double-header, Luis Severino will get the start for the day game. Sevy (14-3, 2.63 ERA) looks to get back on track after a couple of bumpy starts. He’ll be opposed by Brad Keller (3-4, 3.20 ERA). For the night game, yesterday’s scheduled starter, CC Sabathia, will take the mound. CC (6-4, 3.51 ERA) will face Heath Fillmyer (0-1, 2.82 ERA). The Yankees enter the day five games behind the Boston Red Sox. A perfect day would find the Yankees trailing the Sox by only 3 1/2 games when the clock strikes midnight tonight. It’s a great day for two wins and a Red Sox loss. Let’s do this.

Go Yankees!

Game Preview: New York Yankees vs. Kansas City Royals 7/28

In the third game of the four-game set between the New York Yankees and the Kansas City Royals this weekend the Yankees will send Luis Severino to the mound to face off with Heath Fillmyer for the Royals. These games continue to be must wins for the Yankees if the team has any hopes or aspirations of making it to the postseason as a division winner and not as a Wild Card, so let’s get to it here in the Bronx.

Severino is going through a rough patch right now on the mound but a team like the Kansas City Royals could be just what the doctor ordered for the Yankees right-hander. In Severino’s last start the Yankees ace allowed seven runs, six of them earned, in just five innings of work against the Tampa Bay Rays, resulting in his third loss of the season.

Fillmyer is another rookie right-hander for the Kansas City Royals to take the mound this weekend against the Yankees in what will be just his third career start. Fillmyer pitched 6.2 innings in his last start allowing just one run in a no-decision against the Detroit Tigers in his last start.

The game will be played at 1:05 pm ET inside Yankee Stadium and can be seen on the YES Network and MLB Network. You can also follow along with the game on MLB TV, with the MLB At-Bat app and by tuning into the Yankees radio broadcast on WFAN with the legendary duo of John Sterling and Suzyn Waldman.

Enjoy the game, let’s see if Brian Cashman has one more ace up his sleeve, and go Yankees!!

Hello… Saturday

Good morning Yankees family and welcome back to the blog. The weekend is upon us, Happy Saturday to us all. I truly hope everyone enjoyed the bold predictions for all 30 teams that we covered yesterday here on the blog. That was a difficult post series to write with the dynamic and everything changing constantly, and even after I scheduled the posts there were a few trades that went down involving players that I had mentioned specifically. But, so is the ways of a blogger I guess. Anyway, I hope everyone has a great Saturday and an even better weekend!

And to you, my absolute favorite thing and the love of my life, I hope every day, not just the weekends, are better than you could have ever imagined… because you make my days that way. I loves you!

This Day in New York Yankees History 7/28: David Cone is a Yankee

David Cone had a very interesting tenure as a member of the New York Yankees that all started on this day in 1995 when the Yankees gave up Marty Janzen and two minor leaguers, Jason Jarvis and Mike Gordon, for his services. The trade was considered early to be one of the best deals in franchise history as Cone was an integral part of the dynasty and World Series championships in the late 90's.

Cone hit a wall in 2000 though and on this day was sent to the team's minor league camp in Tampa by Yankees owner George Steinbrenner. Cone was demoted after not being able to pick up a win in over four months. The struggling Cone was placed under the supervision of Billy Connors, the Yankees vice president of player personnel.

The Yankees grabbed David Cone on this day on 1995 and they also grabbed Ruben Sierra and Jason Beverlin from the Oakland Athletics for Danny Tartabull. The Tartabull era started when the Yankees signed him a deal worth over $5 million a season after the 1991 season but he never lived up to the hype like he did as a Kansas City Royal.

Finally on this day in 1983 the American League president Lee MacPhail decided that George Brett's "Pine Tar" home run should be allowed. The game will be finished on August 18 and the Royals would win the game 5-4.