Archives for posts with tag: Chase Headley

When this past off-season saw the usually big spending Yanks only make waves by re-acquiring Aroldis Chapman and giving Matt Holliday a 1-year flyer, most fans and analysts didn’t know what to think. This was not the Yanks of old. This was not the M.O. of a big-spending team that missed the playoffs for three of the last four seasons. This was definitely keeping with the new plan implemented by Brian Cashman at last year’s trade deadline. The Yankees are getting younger as we watch and the future is now…maybe a year off.

This year’s spring training was an introduction of new names and high double-digit numbers to a fan base desperate for a return to October baseball. And it was a very encouraging introduction with the Yankees playing .700 ball in the Grapefruit League. True, spring training is not a highly accurate predictor of the future, like Nate Silver’s election algorithms, but there was definitely something new and exciting on display.

The biggest surprise was the return of Greg Bird. After a 2015 mini-campaign that had him prepared to displace Mark Teixeira immediately, Bird was sidelined for all of 2016 with shoulder surgery. This spring saw him return with a vengeance, hitting .451 with a team leading 8 HRs. Displaying an ability to hit to all fields against righties and lefties, coupled with solid defense at 1B, Greg Bird may be the answer at 1B, this season and beyond.

Gary Sanchez picked up from where his 2nd place Rookie of the Year campaign left off, hitting .373 with 5 HRs and showing plenty of arm strength from behind the plate. I was a big fan of Brian McCann and sad to see him depart to Houston but Gary Sanchez’s talent at and behind the plate will not be denied and will be on display post haste.

Tyler Wade, Billy McKinney, Ruben Tejada, Clint Frazier, and Gleyber Torres all showed glimpses of future days in the Bronx. Torres in particular may see an early call-up, especially if Chase Headley continues to underwhelm in the 3rd year of his four-year deal. The jettisoning of Andrew Miller and Aroldis Chapman bore many fruits that the Yankee organization is eager to pluck when fully ripe.

And the addition of 7-time All Star Matt Holliday should easily fill the void left when Carlos Beltran was sent to Texas. Holliday had a banged up 2016 campaign, but as a F/T DH should be plenty healthy to provide much-needed power and veteran leadership.

Starting pitching continues to be the biggest Achilles heel. But considering that an almost identical staff in 2016, minus the recently released Nathan Eovaldi, was good enough for 84 wins anything is possible. The right elbow of Masahiro Tanaka continues to be under more scrutiny than Price Waterhouse’s Oscar night decorum. If Tanaka finally gets to 200 innings this season, there will only be four remaining pitching questions marks. CC Sabathia will most likely end up in the bullpen by June and Michael Pineda has yet to find anything mirroring consistency – both will not be around for 2018. Thankfully, this means plenty of opportunities for Luis Cessa, Chad Green and Bryan Mitchell who have all had success in limited MLB exposure. And Luis Severino continues to be the wild card of them all. Will he return to ROY-esque form from 2015 or only be effective from the bullpen as in 2016? I do hope it’s the former but the latter works just as well.

More than likely, the Yankees will not make the playoffs this season. At best they will be in the run for a Wild Card slot, and anything can happen in that play-in game. I would give this year’s squad about a 15% chance of making it to the divisional round. I expect this year to be a repeat of last year, in the mix but not a true contender. I expect the young talent of Gary Sanchez, Greg Bird, Aaron Judge (who also had an impressive spring) and Luis Severino to gain another year of big league experience in preparation for 2018. 2017 is the new 1995. The future is bright, shining with young talent and hungry veterans prepared to deliver new World Series rings to the Bronx and forcing Joe Girardi to change his uniform number into the 30’s.

The future is bright, Yankee fans, and we may be lucky enough to see Yankee championship history repeat over and over in the next decade….as long as $400 million are not wasted on Bryce Harper. #HeadCase

The 2016 New York Yankees continue to perform just well enough to be considered relevant. Not exactly what fans of the highly priced Bronx Bombers want to hear but we should take what we can get. After taking three straight series from the playoff contending Seattle Mariners, Baltimore Orioles, and Kansas City Royals, the Yanks faltered this past weekend in another series against the O’s. The Yankees salvaged the weekend by winning yesterday’s finale 5-2 after being shut out in back-to-back losses to start the weekend. Technically, the Yankees still have enough time and opportunities to get in the game for October but mostly we are watching a team playing for 2017 and beyond.

Despite a .174 week, Gary Sanchez continues to impress and intimidate with 11 HRs and a .355 average to start his career. He will not qualify for this year’s AL Rookie of the Year but is definitely making a case for serious consideration next season. Didi Gregorius and Starlin Castro have cooled off after their early August starts but are still a formidable DP combo in the AL. Speaking of cooling off, Aaron Judge has turned ice cold after his great start. He is only hitting .177 and looks a bit lost at plate with 32Ks in 62 ABs. Perhaps it’s a good thing the Yankees aren’t playing for October as it will give the young slugger some time to develop. On the bright side, he is not the defensive liability that Carlos Beltran was in RF. And somehow Chase Headley is stepping up his game with a .368 week, though Joe Girardi would still be smart to get regular at-bats for Ronald Torreyes.

Pitching was dealt a considerable blow with the loss of Chad Green for this season, and most likely next season. Not sure what the plan is with the Yankees already short on starting arms after losing Nathan Eovaldi earlier this season. Perhaps we will see more “bullpen games” like in yesterday’s win. Luis Severino is slated to return to the rotation at some point and yet as been his most effective in relief as highlighted by yesterday’s two scoreless frames. With September call-ups in hand, Girardi should take this opportunity to use as many arms as possible to get through games and see who shows potential for future use. And C.C. Sabathia continues to battle and eat up some innings but at this point his days in NY are numbered and his huge salary coming off the books next season should be more than enough to lure a decent free agent signing.

The Yankees have 27 games left, and 24 are against AL East opponents. Unless the Yanks go on historic run, I do not see October baseball. The Yanks are on pace for 83-85 wins which may seem to be a major disappointment but I see as a serious reclamation considering they started the season at 8-16. There’s a month of baseball left in the Bronx and I for one am excited to see what lays ahead this season and next.

After yesterday’s 2-1 win over the Minnesota Twins, the 2016 New Yankees have finally passed the most impassable of marks of early season success: the .500 mark. Sadly, it’s not that early in the season anymore at 37-36 and they are only over by a single game but Damnit, baby steps, Yankee fans. The Yanks have also been helped by having to only play five games this week with two luxurious days off. Regardless, the Yanks have taken advantage of their situation, for now, by winning three in a row, and six of their last eight hoping to build some sense of momentum with the mighty 1st place AL West leading Texas Rangers headed into the Bronx for a four game starting tomorrow. Of course the Yanks still have one more game against the Twins today to increase the newfound WINNING percentage.

The week was more of the same from this year’s Yanks, with a few surprises. Most of the surprises came in Thursday’s comeback win over the Colorado Rockies. The first surprise came in the form of Chase Headley’s 425-foot grand slam over the CF field wall that staked CC Sabathia to any early 4-0 lead. Headley may not be the same player that the Yanks signed for 4 years/$52 million last season but can still be counted on for solid defense and quality at-bats at the right moment. The next surprise came when CC Sabathia seemed to revert to his old ways, unable to hold the lead and not even being able to get out of the 5th inning. It was CC’s worst start in two months (though his ERA still stands at an impressive 2.71) and hopefully this is not an omen of things to come. But the biggest surprise came when the Yanks were facing an 8-4 deficit in the bottom of the 7th inning and came back, bit by bit. Carlos Beltran started things off with a three-run HR in the bottom of the frame, followed by an RBI single from Didi Gregorius in the 8th, and capped off by Starlin Castro’s game winning bomb over the LF wall in the 9th. This offensive output was aided by No Runs DMC being a tourniquet on the other end, keeping the Rockies lineup silent for the last three innings.

Probably don’t want to think too much into this win and yet there’s always that possibility that this is the signature win where everything falls into place. The Yanks best starter doesn’t have his best stuff, the offense finds a way to rally, and the lights out bullpen secures the win. It’s pretty much the equation that most in the Yankee hierarchy envisioned all season. The question is will it always compute? And what happens when all of the variables aren’t in place? For example, today Betances, Miller, and Chapman are almost certainly unavailable as Joe Girardi has made use of their extraordinary services in the last three games, all wins. Is this the day that Nasty Nate Eovaldi returns and gives the Yanks the 7-8 innings that he is more than capable of providing?

It’s gut check time for the Yanks today, again, even against the lowly Twins. At some point this team needs to get on a roll and stay on it. Otherwise, Brian Cashman will need to develop a better poker face than Howard Lederer as the trade deadline starts to loom. I certainly hope the Yanks do not become sellers since I think they have more than enough talent to make a run. Just hoping they get to running very soon……..

After yesterday’s 7-6 win over the Minnesota Twins, the 2016 New York Yankees find themselves back at .500. The last two weeks has seen them sweep four from the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim then drop four in a row to the Detroit Tigers and Colorado Rockies (two games each) and are now riding a three game win streak thanks to a fortuitous stop at Target Field. The Yankees are running more hot and cold than Ben Affleck’s film career. As has been their M.O. the past few seasons, the Bronx Bombers show flashes of excellence alternating with periods of middling mediocrity. At some point the real Yanks need to step forward……..as long as they’re the excellent version, that is.

The offense continues to chug along in fits and spurts. Jacoby Ellsbury and Brett Gardner seem to have the top of the lineup locked down. The pair have OBPs over .345, even though Grander is in the midst of a 2 for 19 funk. A-Roid looks to be returning to 2015 form with a big HR in yesterday’s win that has been the highlight of .293 June. The bottom of the lineup has been getting serious contributions from Didi Gregorius (.355 in June), Chase Headley (.450 for the week, .321 in June) and Rob Refsnyder (.375 for the week, .283 overall). Sir Didi in particular has been a spark with a much needed go-ahead HR in Thursday’s opener against the Twins and has been scorching left-handed pitching to the tune of .383 for the season. Refsnyder also deserves some notice as he is quickly becoming a much needed utility player, sharing time at 1B, 2B, and RF. Can you say Brock Holt?

Brian McCann continues to struggle, currently hovering at .207. There’s talk of giving more time to the more consistent-hitting Austin Romine but I think that may be an overreaction. McCann has been too good for too long, and unless he’s fighting some unpublicized injury he needs to get his regular at-bats to work out whatever’s ailing him at the plate. But the one Yankee who seems to not know of any type of struggles is the rejuvenated Carlos Beltran. The future HOFer (in my opinion) leads the Yanks in the Triple Crown categories and is making a serious case for any extension. I only wish there were a way to switch his and A-Roid’s contracts. Anyone interested in a Mission: Impossible-style break-in at the Yankee front office? Maybe some papers and signatures get switched around, just sayin’……..

Yankee starting pitching continues to be better than advertised, despite a few hiccups. Michael Pineda continues to have his issues in the 1st inning and yet leads the team with 88 Ks (10.24 Ks/9). The Ivan Nova experiment may be coming to a close as the Yankee’s reserve starter is looking at a 6.75 ERA over three June starts. And Nathan Eovladi may be pitching for his rotation spot today at Target Field with a 9.82 ERA over his three June starts. On the bright side, Masahiro Tanaka and CC Sabathia have been the anchors for this veteran rotation. Tanaka stumbled a little in last Sunday’s loss to the Tigers but recovered nicely in Friday night’s win with eight much needed innings of 1-run ball. And Sabathia continues to dazzle and mystify hitters and critics with a 0.81 ERA over his last seven starts and 2.20 ERA overall. Not sure how long Sabathia can keep this magic going but it may be enough a garner an All-Star selection in July.

The bullpen continues to be a regular topic of conversation, both in terms of effectiveness and possible trade-options. The Unholy Trinity is still doing their job when called upon, even though Aroldis Chapman made things more interesting than they needed to be by allowing back-to-back two-out HRs in yesterday’s 7-6 win. It’s also weird to see him and Dellin Betances with 3.00+ ERAs but that’s as likely to continue as a successful DC Studios slate. And Anthony Swarzek is becoming quickly indispensable with a 2.84 ERA over five appearances.

The Yanks are 34-34 and currently gifted with three more games against the Twins next weekend, in addition to today’s series finale at Target Field. True, the competition may not be of the highest caliber but at the end of the day if you have to beat the teams you’re supposed to beat. It also helps to get lucky against the teams you aren’t supposed to beat. Here’s hoping for a little consistency and a whole lot of luck.

After taking two of three from the Tampa Bay Rays last weekend, the Yanks looked primed to start June off with some swagger. Sadly, the Bronx Bombers started this week by getting embarrassingly swept by the Toronto Blue Jays, while being outscored 15-3. Things looked a tad more promising when they used their Thursday off-day to beat the Detroit Tigers 5-4 in a make-up game from April. And they have split the last two games with the upstart Baltimore Orioles, with the offense scoring 14 runs in the two contests. The Yanks are searching for consistency the same way Sarah Palin is searching for relevance.

The Yankee offense is still sputtering towards the bottom of the league standings, currently ranking 26th. And yet, there are positives to be found. A healthy Jacoby Ellsbury hit .320 in May and leads the team with 12 SBs, including his 2nd steal of home this season in last night’s win at Camden Yards. Brett Gardner’s .225 average may not garner him a 2nd consecutive All-Star selection but at least he’s still getting on base at a team-leading .351 clip. Starlin Castro continues to be hot and cold (.385 so far in June) but with a .254 average is eons beyond last year’s 2B manned by Stephen Drew, who seemed to be allergic to pinstripes. May has also been kind to Chase Headley and Didi Gregorius who hit .298 and .287 respectively. The team’s best hitter continues to be Carlos Beltran who is off to a .318 start in June and the less said about his defense the better. And even A-Roid is showing infinitesimal strides with a .300 start to June. I’m guessing Joe Girardi will continue to find excuses to bench A-Roid in favor of the more DH-suited Beltran if necessary.

Brian McCann has cooled off considerably after his surprising .262 April. Despite his recent struggles he still hit 4 HRs in May and is still on pace for another 20 HR season, which is all the Yanks need from their backstop. And the recent DL addition of Mark Teixeira may be a mercy killing. Tex was hoping to finagle his final contracted year in pinstripes into another 2-3 year stay in the Bronx but has just been hobbled by more of the same injuries that has made his stay in NY continually frustrating. At .180 and only 3 HRs maybe it’s time for a change right now. The Yanks called by Chris Parmelee as a stop-gap measure and yet the answer may be Rob Refsnyder. The highly-touted Yankee prospect has seen time at 2B, 3B, RF, and now 1B. It may be a small sample size but hitting .294 while slugging.529 in six games is a huge upgrade.

The Yankee starting pitching continues to be an effective patchwork job with Masahiro Tanaka leading the way with a 2.78 ERA and the rejuvenated C.C. Sabathia not far behind at 2.86. Nathan Eovaldi continues to have issues with lineups the 3rd time around, as shown in Friday night’s loss. Ivan Nova has shown a little wear allowing 9 ERs in his last two six inning outings. But the bright spot may be Michael Pineda who finally showed a spark by holding a formidable Detroit Tiger lineup to only one run over 5 1/3 innings. Not exactly a quality start but baby steps.

The bullpen continues to be Joe Girardi’s most prized possession even if it’s showing signs of vulnerability. The Unholy Trinity (like it?) of Dellin Betances-Andrew Miller-Aroldis Chapman has yet to implode but hasn’t been as intimidating as it seems. Betances in particular has been the weak link in the chain allowing 4 ERs in his last three innings of work. And Chapman made Thurdsay’s win against the Tigers more interesting than it needed to be. Thankfully, he was rescued by a highlight-worthy double play courtesy of Sir Didi and Super Starlin.

Here in June the Yanks stand at 26-29 and 4th place in the AL East. If the Yanks are going to make a move it’s now or not. At some point I do feel the Sawx and O’s will fall back to earth as teams cannot rely on offense alone. I do hope the addition and Refsnyder and potential revival of Pineda will be enough.

The first seven weeks of the baseball season haven’t been a pretty sight for Yankee fans, and yet the Bronx Bombers seem to be playing their best ball at the Sparky Mark. 40 games in is the designated time that the HOF manager Sparky Anderson said is the best time to evaluate any club. This year’s mark sees the Yankees at 18-22, which may seem disappointing but is rather encouraging considering they started 8-16. Throw in two more wins against the Oakland A’s and the Yanks have finally climbed out the AL East cellar (by a ½ game over the Toronto Blue Jays) and look primed to make their move to get back into the race.

The Yanks are currently riding a four game winning streak and have won nine of thirteen overall. Coincidence or not, this current winning clip started with the season debut of Aroldis Chapman. But the real spark has been provided by the 1-2 punch of Jacoby Ellsbury and Brett Gardner. The Yankee speedsters have combined for 17 SBs so far and have their OBPs north of .345. This last week has also seen hot-hitting from Didi Gregorius (.292), Chase Headley (.350), and Carlos Beltran (.385). Beltran in particular has been key, with 11 RBIs in the last 7 games. This aging Puerto Rican slugger is making a strong case to take the majority of the future DH at-bats. Sorry, A-Roid.

Another reason for the Yankees recent turnaround has been the resurgent/healthy starting pitching. Nathan Eovaldi threw six innings of one-run ball in Wednesday’s win over the D-Backs and leads the staff with four wins. Ivan Nova threw six innings of one-run ball of his own against the A’s in Thursday’s win and has lowered his ERA to 3.26. C.C. Sabathia returned from the DL to add to the six inning/one run milieu and racked up his 100th win in pinstripes in the process. And Masahiro Tanaka shook off back-to-back 4+ run starts and held the A’s in check to the tune of one run over seven innings in yesterday’s win.

Joe Girardi caused some heads to shake when he took both Eovaldi and Nova out of low pitch six inning efforts to use his new toy: Betances/Miller/Chapman. I, too, was skeptical but have come around to understand the moves, realizing he was trying to protect one-run leads and more importantly, if you have such a late game advantage, might as well use it. BAM (still looking for a better nickname) may have made both games a little interesting with the propensity for allowing leadoff baserunners but they got the job done. And thankfully overuse may not be an issue, especially with Nick Goody (ERA 1.64) and Kirby Yates (ERA 2.08) able to spell them in the last two games for much needed rest.

The Yankees look to complete their four game sweep of the Oakland A’s today. Sadly, it involves Michael Pineda taking the hill. But with the way the Yankees’ offense and bullpen has been performing, Pineda just needs to hold the Athletics at bay for five innings. Still sounds like a tall order, I know. Otherwise, the Yankees seem to be getting hot at the right time and I’m hoping that once they get over .500 their slow start will become a fading sight in the rearview mirror.

It’s taken 35 games, but Yankee fans are finally getting a full display of what’s possible from this year’s squad. After the season debut of Aroldis Chapman on Monday, yesterday saw Joe Girardi get to unleash the three headed beast that is Betances-Miller-Chapman and the result was dominating to say the least. BMC (I need to think of a better nickname) shut down the ChiSox to the tune of 3 and 1/3 scoreless innings with 8 Ks. Not sure how long before Girardi starts to overuse his shining new toy but for now the Yanks may have just what they need to get back into the AL East race. This new bullpen equation is dependent on two necessary variables: early leads from the offense and solid starting pitching. Thankfully, both have been on display this past week which has seen the Yankees win four of their last six games.

Offensively, the Yankees came to life against the visiting Kansas City Royals. The Yanks took advantage of the defending World Champs to the tune of 26 runs over the four game series, of which the Yanks won three. The month of May has been a welcome sight to Brian McCann, Didi Gregorius, and Aaron Hicks who are hitting .278, .275. and .282 respectively. Sir Didi has been especially timely with a team-high 11 RBIs at the halfway point of the month. Carlos Beltran continues to embrace his new role as DH with 3 HRs in the KC series. And Chase Headley has finally gotten off the schneid, with 2 HRs this week giving him well, 2 XBHs for the season.

The starting pitching continues to be a patchwork job. Luis Severino was placed on 15 Day DL with an elbow issue, but considering his 7.46 ERA it’s a much needed break. He may need to see extended rehab time for both his elbow and mechanics, in general. Masahiro Tananka got roughed up to the tune of 6 runs in Tuesday night’s win but is still the team’s best starting option with a 3.11 ERA. Nathan Eovaldi was only able to last 5 innings in his win on Thursday but is still showing progress in developing his split-fingered fastball. And Ivan Nova has been reliable, only allowing two ERs (both solo HRs) in his two spot starts totaling 10 1/3 innings of much needed work.

The Yankees are hoping to close out today’s series with another win against the AL Central-leading White Sox, as they start a 7 game West Coast road trip manana against the Arizona Diamondbacks and Oakland A’s. The Yanks don’t need much for their bullpen equation to work. But when the first two necessary variables fall into place, say hello BMC and look out AL East. Any suggestions for a better nickname?