Archives for posts with tag: Mark Teixeira

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.

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

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.

The Yanks finished off a disappointing 1st half by taking three of four from the AL Central leading Cleveland Indians. And while you would think such a series victory would normally be celebrated it was only good enough to get them back to .500, again. This year’s squad will enter the 2nd half of the season at 44-44 and 7 ½ games back in the AL East, with three teams to surpass in the division for any hope of October baseball. The season has been ripe with missed opportunities, under-performing once-weres and a whole lot of injuries. Next up the Yanks must decide if it’s time to start selling and just how much is Brian Cashman willing to give up for much needed prospects.

The offense has been a sore spot all year-long with Walking Dead-like performances from A-Roid and Mark Teixeira. It’s hard imagine just a year ago that they were the sparkplugs. Now, they’re just duds. On the bright side, Jacoby Ellsbury and Brett Gardner are becoming consistent .350 OBP table setters. Didi Gregorius is following up a .337 June with a .351 July and getting serious 5th spot in the lineup consideration. Personally, I like him in the lower 3rd of the lineup to provide turnover, like Scott Brosius did during his four-year stint in the Bronx. Starlin Castro hasn’t shown brightly yet and is still on pace for a 20 HR campaign, as is Brian McCann who is providing more than enough offense from behind the plate. And Carlos Beltran is saving his best for last in the last year of his three-year deal. Currently, the Yankee RF/DH is leading the team in the triple crown categories and garnering plenty of interest from AL teams a little further up the playoff ladder.

Yankee starting pitching continues to be a crap shoot with no one ace able to emerge. Masahiro Tanaka continues to have issues with pitching on four days rest as most recently highlighted in last Sunday’s contest against the Indians where he couldn’t be trusted with an 11-1 lead and was lifted after 4 2/3. C.C. Sabathia’s “regained form” has become amorphous thanks to allowing at least 5 ER in each of his last four starts. Michael Pineda has finally gotten his ERA under 6.00 but there’s no telling when his troubles will start again. And Nathan Eovaldi has been sent to the bullpen because of his poor 1st half but may have found his niche with 4 1/3 scoreless innings in relief of Tanaka on Sunday.

And the fact that the Yankees can’t seem to find consistent mediocre pitching becomes even more infuriating considering that their No Runs DMC bullpen only needs six innings to take the baton. Betances, Miller, and Chapman haven’t been perfect but I’m guessing most fans and experts have no problem with the game in their K-pable hands.

The next two weeks will be the determining factor for the direction of the season as well as the team’s future. The Yanks play 13 games against all above .500 teams and a losing spell here will most likely make up Brian Cashman’s mind. I would love to see Beltran and Chapman finish the season in pinstripes but I’m also enough of a fan to know that getting value through their trades would also be worthy. I was really hoping this team would be in the mix. But then again, I’ve seen enough winning in my lifetime to make any Cub fan envious.

It only took two months but the Yankees have finally made it back to .500 and some assemblage of relevance. A four game sweep of the visiting Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim (buoyed by 29 runs scored) followed by splitting the first two games with the Detroit Tigers has the Yanks primed to make a move to get back in the AL East race. This is especially true since the next two weeks see the Bronx Bombers fortunate enough to play four against the Colorado Rockies (Winning Pct. 468) and seven against the Minnesota Twins (.295). Talk about getting hot at the right time.

The biggest statement being made during this current run is from the bat of Brett Gardner. After starting the first two months hitting a boo-worthy .215, the Yankee LF has heated up with the weather, to the tune of a .459 June. Throw in Jacoby Ellsbury’s .316 over the same time frame and the Yanks have plenty of table setting from the top of the lineup. June has also been kind to Starlin Castro and Didi Gregorius hitting .317 and .308 respectively. Even A-Roid’s contributing with a .289 June of his own. But the true Yankee fireworks have been consistently lit by the resurgent Carlos Beltran. Leading the team in hits (62), HRs (16), RBIs (44), and slugging pct. (.561), the Puerto Rican switch-hitter is making a case for both another All-Star selection as well as serious HOF consideration.

The only major concern is who can survive playing 1B. Recent call-up Chris Parmelee seemed to be the answer after getting off to a .500 start with a pair of HRs before injuring his hamstring while stretching for a throw. Teixeira, Ackley, Parmelee, throw in Greg Bird from spring training and playing 1B for the Yanks is like being the drummer for Spinal Tap. Hopefully, Rob Refsnyder can provide some relief. He may still be finding his footing in the field but his bat looks to be an upgrade over a struggling Teixeira.

Yankee starting pitching continues to be a pleasant surprise. Despite yesterday’s 4R outing against the Tigers, Masahiro Tanaka is becoming more and more dependable. He held the Angels in check for 2R over 7 innings on Tuesday and has 3.08 ERA overall. Michael Pineda seems to have turned a corner with back-to-back effective starts. Ivan Nova continues to earn his spot in the rotation with another quality effort in Thursday’s win. Nathan Eovaldi is still fighting high pitch counts and holding leads but if last year is an indicator, he should be heating up with the summer months. And after three injury-addled seasons, CC Sabathia is earning his big salary again with a 0.71 ERA over his last six starts, and 2.28 ERA overall. The 2009 Yankee ace is back and in fine rediscovered form.

The Yankee bullpen is still dominating as ever, even with Dellin Betances working his way back from a shaky early June. This week saw him strikeout four over three scoreless appearances. The recent acquisition of Anthony Swarzak looks promising after his first two scoreless appearances in pinstripes. And Andrew Miller and Aroldis Chapman are still holding down the late innings while attracting trade interest from teams trying to stay in the hunt. Hopefully the Yankees continue to have use for both of these relief aces into September and beyond.

It’s been a long road back to .500 and there are still plenty of miles ahead to reach the top of the division. The Yankees are proving to be equal parts resourceful and resilient. This squad shouldn’t be counted out anytime soon.

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.

A new baseball season starts today. Well, technically it started yesterday with three contests but the rest of the baseball world begins their quest for a ring today. And with the start at hand, here are a few thoughts about the upcoming season where I see the Yankees winning the AL East. It’s not the best Yankee team I have seen but I do believe they have just enough to win a very evenly matched division. Here’s my breakdown on the Yanks using DefCon ratings because I am a geek for WarGames, and please know that DefCon 5 mean “no worries” and DefCon 1 means “Buy, Buy, Buy at the Trade Deadline:”

 

Offense: Last year the Yankees had the 2nd best offense in the bigs. I may have mentioned it before, and often. The Yankees have the same lineup in place led by the final contracted years of Mark Teixeira and Carlos Beltran, HR hitting backstop Brian McCann, an older but still productive A-Roid, and a healthy 1-2 punch of Jacoby Ellsbury and Brett Gardner. Throw in the addition of 2B sparkplug Starlin Castro and there’s no reason for the Bronx Bombers to not keep churning out runs. Age may be a factor late in the year but expect offense to be a staple in victory. DefCon=4

 

Defense: The Yanks suffered in the field in 2015, at least during the 1st half. The 2nd half saw Didi Gregorius and Chase Headley workout their early season issues. I expect Sir Didi to compete for a Gold Glove at SS this season. Didi will be helped up the middle by the newly acquired Castro. The OF may be aging but the combo of Garnder, Ellsbury, and Beltran, being aided by Aaron Hicks and Dustin Ackley should be more than enough to stay competitive. DefCon=4

 

Bench/Pipeline: Austin Romine is more than adequate to backup Brian McCann but at some point big hitting catching prospect Gary Sanchez will find himself with the big club this season. Aaron Hicks will provide plenty of late-inning OF relief and the occasional day off for the Yankee veterans. Dustin Ackley hit .288 after his late season acquisition from the Seattle last year and is available to play 1B, 2B, and OF. Former Astro prospect Ronald Torreyes will backup Chase Headley at 3B, as well as 2B and SS. And even Starlin Castro will get in the mix as the recently converted SS can backup Sir Didi at SS.

What Yankee fans can be truly excited about is the wealth of prospects that include Ben Gamel, Slade Heathcott, Rob Refsnyder, Nick Goody, James Pazos, and slugger in-the-making- Aaron Judge. Each of these players will be seeing playing time in the Bronx this year and may be the key to the Yanks making a playoff run. DefCon=5

 

Starting Pitching: Last season saw Yankee pitching hover around league average, which was good enough to lock up the 1st Wild Card slot. All the same arms return with the exception being that we can look forward to an entire season of rookie phenom Luis Severino. The rest of the rotation includes Masahiro Tanaka, Michael Pineda, Nathan Eovaldi, and C.C. Sabathia, with Ivan Nova on ready alert 5. Each starter has the potential to dominate for any portion of the season, but may also be hindered by their own respective recent injury history (with the exception of Severino). But Joe Girardi should have just enough leeway to get the 800-900 innings he will need to compete this year. Besides it’s all about the Bullpen….. DefCon=3

 

Bullpen: Just like last year, the best part of this Yankee squad is the lights out bullpen. And the addition of Alroldis Chapman just made the games even shorter. Chapman won’t be available until May 9th but there are still plenty of options for Girardi to choose from, be it the proven Chasen Shreve, spring training standouts Johnny Barbato and Kirby Yates or Ivan Nova, who will be available for long relief until he is needed to aid the rotation. In the end, AL hitters will have to get through the indomitable super duo of Dellin Betances and Andrew Miller. Very simply, if the Yanks have a lead after 6 innings, they will keep it. DefCon=5

 

Hope I don’t sound like too much of a homer but I see the Yankees winning the division. I don’t necessarily see them making a deep playoff run, or even making it out of the 1st round, but the Yanks can win enough to take the AL East. And with the youth movement at hand things are just looking up for 2017. Go Yanks!