Archives for posts with tag: Adam Warren

We are still a little over ten games away from the Sparky Mark (40 games), but this year’s New York Yankees show no signs of slowing down or going away quietly – best exemplified by Sunday night’s 18 inning marathon victory over last year’s World Series champion Cubs. Even the most optimistic fan, which I am often accused of being, didn’t see foresee this squad playing .690 ball and making a legitimate claim at being the best team in baseball. This team is far from perfect and yet is finding ways to excel and make a case for World Series talk this year, not next.

Biggest Surprise: Aaron Judge/The Bench (tie) – Following a brief 2016 campaign that saw this Baby Bomber K in 42 of 84 at-bats, Aaron Judge is attempting to lay claim to both the A.L. Rookie of the Year and MVP – and he may just succeed in both. After a slow start, Judge has left little doubt as to who should be the Yankees starting RF for the near future with 13 HRs (tied for MLB league) and surprisingly good defense. I doubt he will keep this pace up with pitchers either making adjustments or dolling out free passes, but Aaron Judge has shown an early knack for overcoming 1-2 counts and deflecting any praise with Derek Jeter-like humility.

While Judge looks like he can carry the team, both figuratively and literally, he has plenty of help from surprising contributors. Injuries to Didi Gregorius and Gary Sanchez, allowed both Ronald Torreyes and Austin Romine a chance to step up and produce. Torreyes has hit .311 with a once team-leading 13 RBIs and Romine has a .281 BA to go with stellar game calling to ease along a young staff highlighted by Luis Severino and Jordan Montgomery. And with Brett Gardner and Jacoby Ellsbury needing the occasional spell in the field, Aaron Hicks has finally justified his #1 draft selection by the Minnesota Twins in 2012. Hicks is showing 5-tool ability with a slash-line of .338/.459/.662 to go with 5 SBs. No telling how long this Yankee 4th OF will need a chance to be a #1 somewhere else, for the right compensation.

Biggest Disappointment: Greg Bird – After a monster spring where he looked like the heir apparent to Mark Teixeira, Greg Bird is looking more like the next Nick Johnson. Hitting only .100 through 19 games, Bird is currently on the DL dealing with a bone bruise in his leg. Apparently the injury happened at the end of spring training and its severity is still unknown. What is known is the faith and commitment that Joe Girardi and Brian Cashman have in the young Yankee 1B. In the meantime, Chris Carter and Matt Holliday will split time in his absence.

No Surprise: The Bullpen – Sunday night’s 3-run hiccup aside, the Yankees lay claim to the best bullpen in the game, and the sky is still the limit. The new three-headed monster of Tyler Clippard/Dellin Betances/Aroldis Chapman is beastly to say the least. Throw in impressive early work from Jonathan Holder, Chasen Shreve, and the ever-reliable Adam Warren and the Yanks have little to worry about protecting a lead or giving their team a chance at a comeback as demonstrated in the 8-run rally against the Baltimore Orioles on April 28th.

Honorable Mention: Starlin Castro – In his 2nd year in pinstripes, the Yankees 2nd baseman is providing the type of offensive production that is making Yankee fans ponder, “Robinson who?” Surprisingly, Castro is flying under radar with his league leading .355 average along with 6 HRs and is 2nd to Judge in RBIs with 21. Despite a crowded field at 2nd with the aforementioned Cano, as well as Brian Dozier and Jose Altuve, Starlin Castro should garner serious All-Star consideration and I plan to do my part.

 

Depending on your point of view this year’s Yankees are either ahead of schedule or right on time. No longer being billed as a “re-building year” this team is ready to win now and is. Will they continue at this torrid pace? Most likely not. But they have shown they are adaptable to adversity and still have plenty of gems to deal in the farm system for any in-season adjustments (“Paging, Gerritt Cole”). In March, I had this team competing for a Wild Card slot but I see no reason they shouldn’t be jockeying for 1st in the AL East – especially once the Sawx inevitably get going.

Another great season of Yankee baseball lay ahead, along with the promise of a future filled with October baseball.

At the start of the season I had the Yankees winning the AL East. Call me a fanatic, call me delusional, I just saw something special happening this year. And it turns that I may just be right, about the special part, not the division. After going into sell mode at the trade deadline, a tactic that no Yankee fan or front office rep has ever been familiar with, the Yankees are slowly but surely moving in the right direction for future championship runs, and playing actual winning baseball in the meantime. After unloading Aroldis Chapman, Andrew Miller, Carlos Beltran, and Ivan Nova, the Yanks are flush with prospects. And the recent/timely release A-Roid means Aaron Judge his finally getting his shot this year. It’s an exciting time to be a Yankee fan.

The Yankees have won 7 of their last 10, which includes winning two of three from the contending Sawx and back-to-back wins over the Tampa Bay Rays. The Yanks are back to a season-high four games over .500 and while they still lack the pitching for a serious AL East run they are currently giving fans a glimpse of the future. Gary Sanchez has gotten off to a .278 start in his career including a mammoth HR at Fenway that highlighted a 4-hit night. I do hope the Yanks hold onto Brian McCann so that Sanchez has a chance to develop behind the plate, with two years left on McCann’s deal. Yesterday’s 8-4 win was highlighted by Tyler Austin and the previously mentioned Aaron Judge both making the MLB debuts and both homering in their first at-bats, going back to back no less. I’m not saying we need to start the coronation of the next Core Four but I also wouldn’t be too hasty to write off any of these young hopefuls as the next Kevin Maas or Shane Spencer.

This new young trio of everyday Yankees are being aided in their early playing days by other young, more seasoned players like Starlin Castro and Didi Gregorius. Castro seems to be in the midst of another hot streak with HRs in the last two games as well as 13 RBIs in 12 August games. And with the departure of Carlos Beltran, Didi Gregorius is now the most talented and MVP-worthy star the Yanks have. Hard to believe that just a year ago he was being doubted as he stepped into the shoes of a legend, now he’s flashing 5-tool potential and should garner serious All-Star consideration next year.

As far as pitching no word if any of the recently acquired prospects will be developed or be used as trade bait for traded targets like Chris Sale. In the meantime, last year’s phenom Luis Severino continues to show some progress. After returning from an extended minor league assignment, Severino responded with 8 1/3 scoreless innings over three relief appearances. Unfortunately, this was followed up by a 5-run outing courtesy of the Boston Red Sox. Severino may best be served working out of the bullpen for the short term. Speaking of the bullpen, the recent acquisition of former Yankee prospect Tyler Clippard and re-acquisition of Adam Warren have made up for the losses of Miler and Chapman. Not exactly No Runs DMC but they’ve been more than effective getting the ball to the new closer Dellin Betances.

There’s still plenty of baseball left and while I don’t see the Yanks making a playoff run I am encouraged by seeing young talent getting a chance to play. In the coming weeks, I will speak on A-Roid as well as the imminent departures of Mark Teixeira and CC Sabathia. In the meantime, I’m feeling something I haven’t felt in a while as a Yankee fan: hope. It’s hope for a winning season, hope for a winning future, hope for a return to championship form. Like I said, it’s an exciting time to be a Yankee fan.

With spring training entering its’ last leg, opening day is fast approaching. And as a Yankee fan I have to admit that I like what I am seeing from this year’s squad. The Yankees shocked many, especially their fans, by making plenty of trades this offseason but not a single free agent signing. The Yankee front office continues to practice the policy that I dubbed “Romneyball,” which means doing everything you can to avoid paying taxes. In the Yanks case it is trying to descend their payroll below the Luxury Tax ceiling that is $189 million. It obviously won’t happen this year but the team is on track with Mark Teixeira in the final year of his 8-year stint and A-Roid and C.C. Sabathia’s deals due to run out after 2017.

So, what are we seeing? We are seeing a Yankee squad that learned some lessons from last year, the key one being, “if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.” The 2015 Yankees won 87 games which was good enough to secure the 1st Wild Card slot. They were as successful as they were thanks to the 2nd best offense in the game and one of the most dominant bullpens around. This year’s Yanks are a simple re-tooling, with a few notable upgrades.

Starlin Castro was acquired from the Cubs in exchange for the valuable but expendable Adam Warren. Castro lacked consistent playing time the last two seasons in the Windy City and has made the best of his new starting gig by hitting .400 this spring and leading the team with 10 RBIs. He also brings a shortstop’s arm to 2B making plenty of defensive gems early on. Aaron Hicks was acquired from the Minnesota Twins for backup catcher John Ryan Murphy and looks to be the 4th OF, taking over for Chris Young who has moved on to the rival Sawx. Hicks looks up to the challenge showing power and solid defensive skills.

And the acquisition of Alrodis Chapman from the Cincinnati Reds may be the “piece de resistance.” Chapman will not be available until May 9th because of his suspension due to a domestic violence allegation but he displayed some initial integrity by owning up to the situation and accepting his punishment. When he is available the Yankees will have the best 7/8/9 bullpen combo in baseball with Chapman joining proven super relief aces Dellin Betances and Andrew Miller. Just like last year, when the Yanks get a lead, they will win.

The only big question facing Manager Joe Girardi is how to make Masahiro Tanaka, Michael Pineda, Nathan Eovaldi, Ivan Nova, Luis Severino, and C. C. Sabathia fit into a 5-man rotation. My answer is simple: go to a 6-man rotation. The Yankees have an abundance of pitching, all with varying degrees of fragile health (with the exception of Severino). This is the perfect opportunity for Girardi to go 6-man deep to not only ensure the best chance of getting 26/27 starts from everyone but also easing the young Severino into his first full season in the bigs. It’s the only thing that makes sense to me.

As for now, the Yankees look to be ending their spring campaign in the Grapefruit league at about .500. But spring training records are about as important as being Valedictorian in summer school. Later this week I will go a little more in-depth with what I feel are reasonable expectations for the 2016 Yankees. But suffice to say I’m excited. Hope you are too!

So much the playoffs. While it looks like the Houston Astros ended the Yankees season with a 3-0 shutout in last Tuesday night’s AL Wild Card game, the Yankees season really ended in September with a 15-17 record. The Yankees essentially hit the wall in the marathon known as the major league baseball season. As for the Wild Card game itself, it served as a microcosm for the 2015 New York Yankees: adequate starting pitching supported by hot/cold offense.

There’s plenty to gloss over from 2015 and plenty to look forward to in the Bronx in 2016. We can gloss over the second half scuffling of star players like Brett Gardner, Brian McCann, and A-Roid. And don’t even get me started on Jacoby Ellsbury, whose contract is turning into the latest albatross. As for optimism, that comes in the form of a youth movement led by pitching ace in the works, Luis Severino, and homerun hitting first baseman, Greg Bird.

Despite the disappointing end to the 2015 season, it can be seen as the groundwork for a future sustained playoff run. GM Brian Cashman refused to mortgage the future at the trade deadline. Because of this risky/reasoned decision Yankee fans were treated to a glimpse of the future from the aforementioned Severino and Bird, as well as Rob Refsnyder, Slade Heathcott, Rico Noel and Bryan Mitchell. And at some point future super slugging Aaron Judge will find his way to the Bronx. Next season will be the start of a time of transition with Mark Teixeira and Carlos Beltran in the final years of their deals and A-Roid’s contract set to expire in 2017. The only other stroke of luck needed would be if teams developed interest in C.C. Sabathia and Jacoby Ellsbury, with the Yankees willing to eat a significant amount of money.

As for pitching, Joe Girardi became dependent on the bullpen because he had no other options. Not a single starting pitcher reached 180 innings, with Sabathia topping out at 167.1. There were plenty of flashes of brilliance from Michael Pineda, Nathan Eovaldi, and Masahiro Tanaka but nothing overly reliable. Toward the end the only consistent arm belonged to 21 year old Luis Severino, who shined with a 2.89 ERA in 62.1 innings. No idea if the Yankees are in the market for a free agent arm this offseason but they may want to give this batch another season, especially with Chase Whitley due to return from Tommy John surgery this upcoming season and Adam Warren available to return to the rotation when needed.

The bullpen did get a chance to succeed but like most bullpens eventually showed its’ cracks. Justin Wilson and Chasen Shreve became that rare pair of lefties able to retire hitters from both sides of the plate. Andrew Miller joined the ranks of dominant Yankee closers with his solid year. And Dellin Betances escaped many a jam, many of his own creating with 40BBs in 80+ innings, but like the rest of team faltered down the stretch.

And while the majority of the team slumped in the season’s 2nd half, Didi Gregorius played the kind of SS desperately needed in the post-Derek Jeter world. Gregorius had a 2nd half slash line of .294/.345/.417 and played flawless defense that helped him finish the season with the best defensive WAR among AL shortstops. The Yankees would be smart to lock him long-term this off season. They should also give Dustin Ackley another year based on his .288 stint with the team since he also provides versatility by being able to play 1B and LF along with his natural position of 2B.

Overall, I see the Yankees early exit from this year’s October Merry-Go-Round as being very similar to their 1995 divisional round loss to the Seattle Mariners. Not saying that Yankee fans can look forward to another run of dominance like the late 1990’s but anything is possible and there is plenty to be positive about.

It took longer than it should have but the 2015 New York Yankees finally secured their slot in the Wild Card game last night with a desperately needed 4-1 win over the rival Sawx. The win salvaged the series finale and halted an untimely three game skid. If the Yankees could have simply won one of the first three games, they would have already guaranteed themselves the opportunity to host the “play-in” game. As it stands they now need to win one of three in Baltimore for that to become a reality. And with the monsoon conditions predicted who knows what games can even be played.

As for the current state of the Yankees, it continues to be a showcase of Jekyll and Hyde. Everytime you start to believe, they fall flat as witnessed by the first three losses in the Boston series. Everytime you count them out, they power up by displaying the 2rd best offense in baseball and their lights-out bullpen. The Yankees are nothing if not entertaining when they are not infuriating their fans.

Last night displayed just the right amount of veteran talent bolstered by the youth movement. C.C. Sabathia pitched another five solid innings and has a 2.17 ERA since returning from the DL. Adam Warren added three scoreless innings of relief and may prove to be the new Ramiro Mendoza, with his ability to provide long relief and spot starts. Carlos Beltran jump started the Yankee offense with his 2nd inning HR and has made a case to be the Yankees 2nd half MVP. Greg Bird and Rob Refsnyder added solo HRs and are giving Yankee fans plenty to look forward to, even if this year ends after next Tuesday night’s Wild Card game.

The question is which Yankee team will show up on Tuesday? Will it be the team that had every cylinder clicking last night or the team that was unable to overcome shoddy starting pitching and left 30 men on base in the first three games of the Boston series? And more importantly, which Masahiro Tanaka will show up? Will it be the ace worth $155 million who seems to be the mighty Jays only kryptonite? Or will it be the pedestrian pitcher who has given up four runs in his last two starts against the Sawx? The problem with the one game playoff is the endless amount of questions that need to be answered.

In the short term, I am disappointed that the Yankees lost a seven game lead in the AL East to the Toronto Blue Jays and have to settle for the Wild Card game. But overall, it’s hard to not be excited about the Yankees future, currently embodied by Luis Severino, Greg Bird, Slade Heathcott, Rob Refsnyder, and Rico Noel. The Yankees are now approaching a crossroads where the next few seasons will see the passing of the torch and thinning of the payroll with players like Carlos Beltran, Mark Teixeira, C.C. Sabathia, and A-Roid likely to move on. I am not saying this is 1995 all over again but it’s hard to not see some parallels and the beginning of something special.

These are exciting and tenuous times in the Bronx. And Yankee fans wouldn’t have it any other way.

The more things change, the more they stay insane. Last week started with the Yankees losing two of three to the lowly Cleveland Indians. Not the best time in year to start to slide, especially since it allowed the surging Toronto Blue Jays to take over 1st in the AL East and inspired every baseball analyst to declare the 2015 New York Yankees DOA. Then the Yanks showed up in Toronto against an invigorated team and their fanbase (which sold out all three games) and proceeded to take two of three to jump back into the lead in the AL East by a ½ game. Suffice to say, there’s plenty of baseball left and plenty of flip-flopping to be flipped.

The Yankees did make a statement over the weekend. And that statement was the equivalent of Rocky Balboa finally figuring out Clubber Lang’s weakness and proclaiming, “Ain’t so bad!” Of course it helps when solid starting pitching is supported by timely hitting. Yankee pitching held the hot Blue Jays bats to only seven runs over the three game series. The highlights were Ivan Nova’s seven inning outdueling of David Price on Friday night and Masahiro Tanaka’s masterful one run, five hit complete game on Saturday. Despite a solid outing, Luis Severino lost in the series finale on Sunday and continues to be a victim to minimal run support. Overall, Severino is still impressive with a 3.18 ERA over his first three big league starts and may be just enough to help the Yankees starting pitching heading into September.

The Yankee offense continues to be a hit and miss project but remains second in all of baseball. Jacoby Ellsbury is showing signs of life hitting 7-18 over his last four games. A-Roid has cooled off considerably and may need a little more time off to cope with the long season. Brian McCann and Mark Teixeira are only hitting .190 and .192 respectively in August. And yet they are still power threats with McCann hitting 4HRs in the month and Teixeira adding 3HRs of his own.

But the key to a consistent Yankee offense may be the resurgence of Carlos Beltran, who is finally justifying his three year/$48 million deal. Beltran is hitting .324 in August including a three-run pinch hit HR in Friday’s victory. That at-bat, which saw Beltran in a 1-2 hole against Blue Jays reliever Aaron Sanchez, may be seen as the turning point in the season if the Yankees can find a way to win out. Joe Girardi will need to find ways to keep getting the best out the 38 year old Beltran with frequent platoons with Chris Young, who has been effective in his role as 4th outfielder.

The Yankee bullpen continues to be the best bet late in the game with Justin Wilson, Chasen Shreve, and Adam Warren getting much needed outs in the 6th and 7th innings. Dellin Betances is still a beast in his set-up role. And Andrew Miller has tested more than few heart rates in his most recent outings. His twelve pitch, eight minute showdown with Troy Tulowitzki was a heartstopper, to say the least. Miller needs to be wary of the walks he allows down the stretch.

The Yankees start a ten game homestand tonight against the Minnesota Twins, followed by visits from the Cleveland Indians and Houston Astros. The schedule continues to favor the Yankees and the only question that remains is if they can take advantage. Seven wins in this stretch is a must and certainly within reason with September just around the corner.

For a team that hasn’t made the playoffs since 2012, the 2015 Yankees are showing a considerable amount of patience. These aren’t your father’s Yankees and definitely not George Steinbrenner’s, aside from a few bloated salaries. The Yankees shocked all, especially their fans, by not making any big moves at the trade deadline, aside from picking up Dustin Ackley from the Seattle Mariners. Ackley will essentially replace Garrett Jones as a left-handed bat and utility option on the bench. But the Yankees seems content to move forward as is or at least they are not willing to mortgage the future for any 2nd half player rental.

As a Yankee fan, I can say I am satisfied with their actions, or inaction to be more accurate. The Yankees have a 6 game lead in the AL East and a farm system full of talent. The team has experienced a revival this year thanks to comeback seasons from Mark Teixeira and A-Roid and with talent like Aaron Judge, Rob Refsnyder, and Slade Heathcott still developing, the window for future winning seasons is opening wider. The starting pitching is still a precarious factor but holding on to Luis Severino, who will make his MLB debut this Wednesday against the Sawx, may prove to be the winning ticket for entry into this year’s October bonanza.

Best of all, one could say that Friday night’s 13-6 win over the Chicago White Sox could be seen as validation for this year’s trade deadline policy. The Yankees finished the weekend by taking two of three from the ChiSox while outscoring them 27-17. This helped the Yanks finish their ten game road trip at 6-4, buoyed by an offense that scored 78 runs in that span. Perhaps Brian Cashman’s new mantra is “If ain’t broke, don’t fix it.”

And yet, you do wonder if the Yankees might have been served by picking a starter last Friday. Michael Pineda could miss up to month with his forearm issue. Masahiro Tanaka continues to be hit and miss. Nathan Eovaldi gets the brunt of Yankee run support but still can’t make it to the 7th inning on a consistent basis. And C.C. Sabathia keeps testing Joe Girardi’s faith. Or perhaps Girardi cannot fathom the ridicule of putting a $25 million/year pitcher in the bullpen for mop-up duty and lefty matchups.

The Yankees’ season may continue to rest on the explosive offense and ever-expanding bullpen. The Yankees continue to pummel opponents with the 2nd best offense in all of baseball. The usual suspects leading the charge continue to be Teixeira, A-Roid, and Brian McCann. Teixeira in particular has been on a roll, seemingly taking his lack of sugar, carbs and wheat out on every opposing pitcher with 5 HRs in his last four games. I just hope MLB doesn’t pass a “No Gluten-Free” policy anytime soon.

Jacoby Ellsbury and Brett Gardner have hit a bit of a rut lately but continue to be threats at the top of the lineup. Even the bottom of the lineup is contributing to the juggernaut with Chase Headley and Didi Gregorius hitting .370 and .317 respectively in the month of July. Each has also improved on their early season defensive woes. Gregorius in particular is showing improved range and a strong arm. Throw in Stephen Drew about to cross the Mendoza line with yesterday’s 3-4 performance, and every bat in the lineup now needs to be accounted for.

But as I have said all year, and as it has been demonstrated, it’s all about the bullpen. The Yankees win games they are supposed because of a reliable and growing pen of arms. Despite yesterday’s hiccup, Chasen Shreve has proven to be reliable against hitters from both sides of the plate and for multiple innings. Justin Wilson and Adam Warren continue to wiggle starters out of jams in the 6th and 7th innings. And Dellin Betances/Andrew Miller is a two headed beast that no hitter wants to face with the game on the line.

From here on out the Yankees have been blessed by the scheduling gods, with a majority of their games played at home and not a single game to be played outside the Eastern Time Zone. The team is healthy, offensively explosive and gearing up for a strong final two months of the season. The course is set and the Yankees control their own destiny, along with hopes of playoff dreams for their highly-opinionated fans. I’m all in on this squad. And apparently so is Brian Cashman.