Category Archives: Minors

Yankees hire a female hitting coach; Ellsbury departure could be ugly.

Yankee Stadium Frieze

From Bryan Hoch at MLB.com:

The Yankees are preparing to make history with the addition of Rachel Balkovec, who will become one of the first female full-time hitting coaches hired by a big league organization, The New York Times reported on Friday evening.

The 32-year-old Balkovec signed her contract on Nov. 8, according to the Times, and is slated to report to the Yankees’ Spring Training complex in Tampa, Fla., on Feb. 1. Balkovec is expected to be based in Tampa and will serve as a roving instructor throughout the organization.

Yankees hitting coordinator Dillon Lawson told the Times that the club hired Balkovec based on her qualifications, which include two master’s degrees in the science of human movement and experience at several Minor League clubs.

“It’s an easy answer to why we chose Rachel for this role,” Lawson told the newspaper. “She’s a good hitting coach, and a good coach, period.”

A product of Omaha, Neb., Balkovec earned recognition as a part-time strength and conditioning coach in the Cardinals’ organization in 2012, prompting her appointment as the Minor League strength and conditioning coordinator for the Cardinals from 2014-15. As such, she became the first woman to hold a full-time strength and conditioning position in affiliated baseball.

Since August, Balkovec has been researching eye tracking for hitters and hip movement for pitchers at Driveline Baseball, a data-driven performance training center in Washington state. The Yankees tabbed Driveline’s Sam Briend this past summer to head their organizational pitching blueprint, and Balkovec hopes to apply her expertise to the club’s hitters.


No, it wasn’t an April Fool’s joke. The Yankees signed Zack Granite to a minor league deal.

At first, when you read it, you thought you saw Zack Greinke, didn’t you? Like many others, you did a double take.

Nope, it is not the top-flight pitcher (who isn’t a free agent anyway), but an OF named Zack Granite, 27, lefty hitter who had 93 MLB at bats with the Twins in 2017. Of his 22 hits (.237), 19 were singles. OPS+ 66. 1 HR, 13 RBI. OF depth. Especially in CF.

Granite is from Staten Island and went to Seton Hall. He hit .290-3-37 at AAA (119 games, Rangers organization) in 2019. 25 SB. So has some speed, no power.


From the NY Post, the Ellsbury departure could get ugly:

On Friday, multiple sources told The Post, right after Ellsbury cleared release waivers, the Yankees sent a letter to the Players Association notifying them of their intention to convert Ellsbury’s contract from guaranteed to non-guaranteed, thereby liberating them from the outfielder’s $21 million salary for 2020 as well as a $5 million buyout of the $21 million team option for 2021. The basis of the effort is the Yankees’ contention Ellsbury, who missed the entire 2018 and 2019 seasons due to multiple injuries, received medical treatment at Progressive Medical Center in Atlanta for multiple years without the Yankees’ authorization. The exact time period is in question, hence the uncertainty about how much, if any, of the $127 million the Yankees already have paid Ellsbury will be in play.

The union, livid with the Yankees’ maneuver, made it clear it would challenge the team on Ellsbury’s behalf and hinted at a willingness to play offense as well as defense.

If Ellsbury, who is represented by agent Scott Boras, files a grievance against the Yankees, an independent arbitrator would resolve the matter unless the two sides can come to a settlement. Baseball’s Basic Agreement mandates a hearing take place within one year of the grievance filing.

The Basic Agreement, most importantly, asserts, on page 59: “Any treatment a Player receives for a Work-Related Injury by a health care provider who is not affiliated with the Club must be authorized by the Club in advance of the treatment in accordance with Regulation 2 of the [Uniform Player Contract].”

That’s the edict the Yankees allege Ellsbury violated. In order to prove that, the Yankees — who didn’t have insurance on Ellsbury’s 2020 contract, after getting reimbursed at a 75-percent rate for the $42 million he earned over the prior two seasons — must display that he received treatment there related to his work, rather than a personal-health issue.

As for the PA’s mention of potential contract violations by the Yankees, the union could investigate whether the team was responsible for a media report implying Ellsbury might have used illegal performance-enhancing drugs at Progressive Medical Center, an insinuation that could be viewed as breaking the rules of the game’s Joint Drug Agreement. Ironically, if baseball did discover Ellsbury used illegal PEDs, his contract would be protected, as per the Basic Agreement, and he’d serve a suspension, during which he wouldn’t get paid.


Lastly, stay tuned. The Houston cheating scandal could wind up with one hell of a punishment.

 

WS Game 2. Washington going home with 2-0 Series lead. Cubs choose Ross as mgr.

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The Washington Nationals, the biggest WS underdog since the 2007 Colorado Rockies (who got swept by Boston) are heading home after whipping Houston 12-3 in Game 2 last night.

In winning both games at Houston, Washington beat Gerrit Cole AND Justin Verlander. Verlander has now started six WS games in his career, and is 0-5.

Stephen Strasburg gave up a 2-run HR to Alex Bregman in the first inning, but nothing after that as he pitched six innings for the win.

Five different Nationals had two hits, as they banged out 14, including 3 HR.


The Cubs apparently have chosen ESPN broadcaster David Ross as their new manager, replacing Joe Maddon who has moved on to the Angels. Remember the surprise when the Yankees chose Aaron Boone two years ago? And Eduardo Perez (Tony’s son), an ESPN broadcaster, is still in the mix for some open managerial jobs, too.


The Arizona Fall League ends tomorrow, Friday. The Surprise Saguaros, which has some Yankees’ prospects, are 16-11, have clinched their division and will be playing in the Championship game on Saturday.  Stats for those prospects.

1B Brandon Wagner .212-2-21  19 games
C Donny Sands .188-1-7  14 games
CF Josh Stowers .121-1-3   19 games.
P Aaron McGarity 1-0, 0.87 9 games, 10 1/3 IP  14 K
P Glenn Otto  2-1, 1.35  5 starts, 20 IP,  20 K
P Daniel Bies 0-1, 4.50 10 IP, 14 K

 

 

Game 101. Yanks win game, trade for Happ, but lose Judge for 3 weeks.

Yankee Stadium Frieze

Because there is so much Yankees news major-league wise, between the game, a trade and a major injury, there will be no minor league report today (no time before I have to leave for work).

Before the game, the Yanks made a trade with Toronto, getting J.A. Happ for Brandon Drury and Billy McKinney.

Happ, 35, made his first All-Star team this year, and is 10-6, 4.18, ERA+ 101 in 20 starts. He hasn’t been that good lately. Through June 13 he was 8-3, 3.48, but he has gone 2-3, 6.03 since. Hopefully he turns it back around for the Yanks. Happ, like the just-acquired Zack Britton, can become a free agent at the end of the season, he and Britton may just be rentals. Happ broke in nicely, and after just a little bit of MLB experience in 2007 and 2008 (he got in 8 games, 4 starts for the 2008 WS Champion Phillies), finished second in ROY in 2009, when he went 12-4, 2.93 in 35 games, 23 starts, for the NL pennant-winning Phils that year. Who knows, if he would have started for the Phils in the WS that year instead of Pedro Martinez (who was at the end of his career and who lost two WS games), maybe the Yanks don’t win that 2009 WS but lose it to the Phillies. Pedro never pitched again after that WS.

Happ then went 38-48, 4.56, ERA+ 86 between 2010-2014, bouncing from the Phils to Houston to Toronto. He upped his game in 2015, going 11-8, 3.61 for Seattle and Pittsburgh. He went back to Toronto in 2016 and was a 20 game winner, finishing sixth in CYA voting. Last year he was 10-11, 3.53. For his career he is 102-82, 3.95, ERA+ 104. 162 g. average 13-11, 3.95.

For Happ, the Yanks gave up Brandon Drury, who was expected to be their starting 3B this year, but migraines put Drury on the DL, and sent him to the minors. Meanwhile, Miguel Andujar took Drury’s job. Drury got into just 18 games with the Yanks, going 9 for 51 (.176) with 1 HR and 7 RBI, OPS+ just 47. In 61 games at SWB, he was .292-6-32. Drury turns 26 in a few weeks.

Also going to Toronto is OF/1B Billy McKinney. McKinney got into just 2 games with the Yanks at the beginning of the season, going 1 for 4. Soon to be 24, McKinney was hitting .228-13-35 for SWB in 63 games this year.

Now for the game. First, Judge’s injury.

Aaron Judge was HBP by a ball in the first inning. He stayed in the game and got an infield single in the third but was removed. An X-Ray, MRI and CT scan were all done and the final showed a a chip fracture of the right wrist (ulnar styloid bone). No surgery is recommended but Judge will miss at least 3 weeks.

Ouch, WAR has Judge as the Yanks’ best player (Severino is second).

The Yanks won the game 7-2 over KC, a bittersweet victory what with the Judge injury, and at 65-36, the Yanks picked up a game on Boston, who lost 2-1 to the Twins. The Yanks are now 4 1/2 back.

In that first inning, with one out, Judge was HBP. Didi doubled Judge to third. Stanton hit a SF which scored Judge and moved Didi to third. After Hicks walked, Torres reached on an error which allowed Didi to score. 2-0 Yanks.

The Yanks got 4 in the fourth. With one out, Walker singled and Romine doubled him in. After an out, Andujar, pinch-hitting for the injured Judge, reached on an error, and Didi Gregorius made KC pay for the error by hitting a 3-run HR (18).

In the fifth, Hicks singled, then Torres singled Hicks to third. Bird drove in the run with a SF. 7-0.

Adam Warren gave up a 2-run HR to Salvador Perez in the sixth, 7-2.

Britton made his Yankees’ debut in the eighth with a 1-2-3 inning.

Judge 1 for 1, HBP, Fractured wrist, Out at least 3 weeks.
Gregorius 2 hits, 3-run HR.
Hicks 2 hits, threw out a runner at the plate to end the game.
Walker 2 hits

Gray (W, 8-7, 5.08) 5 IP, 0 R, 3 H, 2 W, 5 K.
Warren 1 IP, 2 R, 2 H, 0 W, 2 K. Gave up 1 HR.  2.96
Robertson 1 IP, 0 R, 1 H, 0 W, 3 K.  2.98
Britton 1 IP, 0 R, 0 H, 0 W, 1 K. 3.24 (combined Balt/NYY; NYY debut)
Shreve 1 IP, 0 R, 3 H, 0 W, 1 K.  4.14

Vaughn Eshelman, who pitched for Boston 1995-1997, going 15-9, 6.07, ERA+ 81, died at the age of 49.

Minor League Report.

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AAA: SWB (7-7) got only three hits in a 3-0 loss. You can guess who got one of them. Yup, Gleyber Torres (.370), who was 1 for 3 with a walk. He was playing 2B instead of 3B and did make an error.

Camarena (L, 0-1, 4.97) 5 IP, 2 R, 8 H, 1 W, 2 K.
Feyereisen 3 IP, 1 R, 2 H, 1 W, 2 K. 3.38
Espinal 1 IP, 0 R, 2 H, 0 W, 1 K.  4.32

AA: Trenton (7-7) lost 6-5. 3B Mandy Alvarez 2 hits, 2 RBI. CF Trey Amburgey 2 doubles, RBI. LF Rashad Crawford 2 hits, 2 RBI. SS Vicente Conde 3 hits, 2 doubles.

Tate 5 IP, 2 R, 5 H, 2 W, 4 K. 1.80
Ort 2 IP, 1 R, 1 H, 2 W, 4 K. 2.35
Schwaab (BS, 1; L, 0-2, 2.57) 2 IP, 3 R, 2 ER, 1 H, 2 W, 3 K.

High A: Tampa (7-8) got a walk off 4-3 win. 3B Brandon Wagner walk off HR. LF Timmy Robinson solo HR.

Loaisiga 5 IP, 2 R, 7 H, 1 W, 9 K. 1.20
Harris 2 IP, 0 R, 0 H, 0 W, 4 K. 3.18
Frawley 1 IP, 0 R, 0 H, 1 W, 2 K. 0.00
Sosebee (BS, 1; W, 1-1, 1.23) 1 IP, 1 R, 2 H, 1 W, 1 K.

Low A: Charleston (6-9) lost 2-1. 3B Chris Hess HR. 2 hits each for CF Ricardo Ferreira, SS Oswaldo Cabrera, RF Steven Sensley, and LF Leonardo Molina.

Lehnen (L, 1-1, 2.55) 6 2/3 IP, 2 R, 5 H, 1 W, 10 K.
Cedeno 1 1/3 IP, 0 R, 0 H, 0 W, 0 K. 0.00

Game 132. Yanks win in 13, make some deals.

Yankee Stadium Frieze

The Yanks beat KC in 13 Wednesday night, and were busy making deals.

There is a lot of news here, including some passings, so bear with me.

Ben Gamel, just named International League MVP, was dealt to Seattle for two minor league pitchers, 18 year old Juan De Paula and 19 year old Jio Orozco, both righties. Gamel was 1 for 8 for the Yanks this year, and the 24 yr. old OF was .308-6-51 with 19 SB at SWB. De Paula has been down in the rookie leagues, and in 25 games in the minors, is 6-6, 2.58 with 121 K in 118 2/3 IP. Orozco, in 20 minor league games, is 5-3, 3.73 with 87 K in 70 IP. Both are young and a long way away, so we’ll see.

The Yanks sent cash to the Brewers for OF Eric Young. Young, 31, has played for Colorado, the Mets and Braves in his career. He led the NL in SB in 2013 with 46. He can play all 3 OF positions and 2B.  His 162 g. average is .247-2-26 with 42 SB and an OPS+ of 74. It appears he will be used as a pinch-runner in September with the expanded rosters. Young could get more playing time than expected, since Aaron Hicks left last night’s game with a hamstring strain.

The Yanks also announced that Greg Bird, Tyler Wade, Gleyber Torres, Miguel Andujar and Brody Koerner to the Arizona Fall League.Three others are to be announced. For Bird, a good sign that he is coming along and to get him a few at bats this year as he rehabs from that shoulder surgery.

Now for the game. The Yanks came back from a 4-0 deficit to win 5-4 in 13 innings. They are now 69-63, in fourth place in the AL East, 6 1/2 out, but now only 2 1/2 out of the final wild card spot and have to jump three teams.

Luis Cessa struggled early, giving up two runs in the first inning, a run in the second and another in the third. Kendrys Morales hit a 2-run HR off him in the first, and Eric Hosmer a solo shot in the third.

The Yanks got three in the sixth to get back in the game. Ellsbury singled, went to second on a walk to Sanchez and to third on a fly ball by Teixeira. After Gregorius’ SF brought in one run, Castro hit a 2-run HR (19) to cut it to 4-3.

The Yanks tied it in the seventh. With one out, Hicks walked, Gardner singled him to third and Ellsbury tied the game with a SF.

In the 13th, Gregorius singled, was doubled to third by Castro and scored on a SF by McCann.

Ben Heller got his first MLB win.

The Yankees bullpen pitched seven no-hit, shutout innings. Combined with Cessa’s last three innings, the Yanks shut out KC for the last 10 innings of the game.

Cessa 6 IP, 4 R, 3 ER, 6 H, 1 walk, 2 K. 4.17. Gave up 2 HR.
Shreve 2 IP, 0 R, 0 H, 1 walk, 3 K. 4.85.
Layne 1/3 IP, 0 R, 0 H, 0 walks, 0 K. 3.38 (Bos/NYY)
Warren 2/3 IP, 0 R, 0 H, 0 walks, 0 K. 5.22 (Cubs/NYY)
Parker 2 IP, 0 R, 0 H, 1 wlk, 1 K. 3.60 (Sea/NYY)
Heller (W, 1-0) 1 IP, 0 R, 0 H, 0 walks, 0 K. 6.00
Betances (S, 7) 1 IP, 0 R, 0 H, 1 walk, 0 K. 2.12.

Juan Bell, brother of 1987 AL MVP George Bell, and an infielder in the early 1990s for the Orioles and Phillies, along with the Brewers, Expos and Red Sox, passed away at the age of 48. He was a .212 hitter, OPS+ 60, from 1989-1995.

Joe DeMaestri has passed away at the age of 87. The SS was best known as the SS for the Philadelphia and KC A’s from 1953-1959. Before that he played for the White Sox and Browns. He ended his career by playing for the 1960 and 1961 Yankees. A .236 hitter, OPS+ 62, he made the 1957 All-Star team.

Irvin, NFL news….

Hall 0f Famer Monte Irvin passed away at the age of 96. Irvin couldn’t break into the majors until the age of 30 in 1949 but was, for a while, considered to maybe be what Jackie Robinson was—the man to break the color barrier.

Because of his late start, most of Irvin’s accomplishments came in the Negro Leagues, but in 1951, Irvin finished 3rd in the MVP balloting after a season where he hit .312-24-121 (leading the NL in RBI) and helped to lead the NY Giants to their improbable come from behind pennant.

Irvin had an excellent WS against the Yanks in the Giants’ loss to the Bronx Bombers. He went 11 for 24 (.458) with two RBI and even stole home in Game 1.

He was an All-Star for the only time in 1952 and finished 31st in MVP voting despite playing just 46 games because of a broken ankle.

He hit .329-21-97 in 1953, finishing 15th in the MVP voting and was a member of the 1954 WS Champion NY Giants, going 2 for 9 in that WS—the last WS Champion NY Giant team.

He played for the Giants from 1949-1955 and finished his career with the Cubs in 1956.  He hit .293 with an OPS+ of  125 in his shortened career.

After his career ended, Irvin worked in baseball for many years in the commissioners’ office.

Big news in the NFL. The St. Louis Rams are headed backed to LA, where they played from 1946-1994 (winning the NFL title in 1951 and losing Super Bowl XIV), and the San Diego Chargers may follow. The Chargers started out in the AFL in Los Angeles, playing there in 1960 before moving to San Diego. The 1960 Los Angeles Chargers lost the AFL title game to the Houston Oilers, 24-16.

The Rams are moving to LA next year, to play in the LA Coliseum. A new stadium is expected to be ready for 2019. I don’t know where they would play in 2017 and 2018, I’ll have to check.  The Chargers may move in 2017, if a lease agreement can be worked out with the Rams. If one can’t be worked out, then the Raiders may move from Oakland to LA, where they played from 1982-1994, winning Super Bowl XVIII.

Meanwhile, the playoffs are going on, and last week saw a couple of doozies. KC beat Houston 30-0 and Green Bay knocked out Washington 35-18 but it was the other two, the way they finished, that was shocking.

Minnesota missed a chippy 27 yd. FG at the end of the game to lose 10-9 to Seattle. The game was played in sub-zero degree weather.

Pittsburgh blew a 15-0 lead they had entering the fourth quarter, and had their QB hurt. They had to go with their 3rd and 4th string RBs in the game. With 1:50 left, Cincinnati, who had not won a playoff game since 1990, took a 16-15 lead. Pittsburgh’s backup QB threw a pick, and Cincy had the ball in Steelers’ territory, only to fumble the ball back with 1:23 left. Back onto the field came Steelers’ QB Ben Roethlisberger, who was injured. We now know he suffered a sprained AC and torn ligaments in his throwing shoulder due to a sack and dirty play (knee to the shoulder after the sack) by a Cincy LB. He couldn’t throw long but got the ball to midfield with 22 seconds left. Then Cincy got called for back to back 15 yd. personal foul penalties, one on a dirty hit by the same LB, to move the ball forward 30 yards and Pittsburgh hit the 35 yd. FG to win the game 18-16.

The behavior of both teams in the game as well as fans was disgraceful (and I am saying that as a Steelers fan who is happy Pittsburgh won, but who is not happy with the actions of coaches Munchak and Porter, even though what Porter did may have affected the outcome of the game).

So Pittsburgh at Denver in the next round, but with a RB (Williams), QB (Big Ben) and WR (Brown) all questionable.

KC at New England. Seattle at 15-1 Carolina. Green Bay at Arizona.

Lastly a minor Yankees trade regarding minor leaguers. You can check it out here on Lohud’s link.

http://yankees.lhblogs.com/2016/01/12/yankees-fill-40-man-trade-lhp-tyler-olson-inf-ronald-torreyes/

 

 

The Minors.

Yankee Stadium Frieze

Sorry for no minor league report from Tuesday, but with the Yanks’ 16-inning game that night, there wasn’t time.

AAA: SWB won 4-3 in 12. Nick Rumbelow, Caleb Cotham and Johnny Barbato combined for six shutout innings of relief. 2 hits, solo HR CF Ben Gamel. 3 hits, walkoff RBI single for RF Aaron Judge.

AA: Trenton split a DH.

Game 1: 5-0 loss. 2 hits for CF Jake Cave.
Game 2: 4-1 win. Cave with 3 hits, rbi. 1B Dante Bichette, Jr. 3 h, rbi.

High A: Tampa lost 1-0. Chaz Hebert, 6 Ip, 1 R the tough-luck loser. SS Abital Avelino with 2 of Tampa’s 5 hits.

A: Charleston lost 11-5. 2B Billy Fleming 3 h, rbi.