Category Archives: Players

Yanks to sign Jon Niese.

Yankee Stadium Frieze

Pending passing a physical tomorrow, the Yanks are expected to sign Jon Niese to a minor league contract.

Niese has spent most of his career for the other NY team, the Mets.

The lefty pitcher is 30, and had a rough 2016 for the Pirates and Mets. From 2010-2015, he averaged 10-10, 3.86 per year for the Mets but last year saw 8-7, 5.50 for the Pirates and Mets before he needed knee surgery.

Niese will battle Adam Warren, Luis Severino, Chad Green, Luis Cessa and Bryan Mitchell for a spot in the rotation as a #4 or #5 starter behind Masahiro Tanaka, C.C. Sabathia and Michael Pineda. Of those five guys battling for two spots, Niese is the only lefty and if he wins a spot would join C.C. as the lefties in the rotation.

Niese could also go to the bullpen if he doesn’t make the rotation.

He pitched for the Mets in the 2015 postseason when the Mets went to the World Series. In six postseason games, he was 0-0, 5.06.

For his career, Niese is 69-68, 4.07, ERA+ 93. His 162 g. average is 12-11, 4.07, ERA+ 93. Average ERA+ is 100.

UPDATE: The Yanks announced that they are considering him solely for relief.

Gossage, like Levine, needs to zip it.

Yankee Stadium Frieze

Besides Randy Levine needing to zip it more often, another person who needs to zip it is Rich “Goose” Gossage, who showed up in camp with his annual rant against relief pitchers, and particularly the great and classy Mariano Rivera.

Goose was great. His plaque is in Monument Park, deservedly so. In his prime, 1978-1983 as a Yankee, he averaged 7-5, 2.10, and 25 saves/yr. Remember that he missed 1/2 of 1979 due to the Cliff Johnson fight and 1/3 of 1981 due to the players’ strike. He is in the HOF, rightfully so, with a record of 124-107, 310 saves, 3.01 ERA and ERA+ of 126. (Goose also spent part of 1989 with the Yanks, at the end of his career). In that 1978-1983 time frame, he averaged 1 2/3 innings per appearance.

Goose spent one year starting for the White Sox in 1976.

Now Goose did pitch 2 2/3 innings in that famous Bucky Dent playoff game vs. Boston in 1978.

In what seems to be his annual rant against baseball today, he says (with expletives) not to compare him, Sutter, Fingers, etc. to pitchers like Rivera, Chapman, etc. because the latter day pitchers are one-inning guys. Fair enough.

But the way Goose disparages Rivera is uncalled for. Mariano’s #42 is retired by the Yankees, rightfully so, and Mo should be joining Goose in the HOF in 2019. He should get in almost unanimously, if not unanimously (there is always one jerk out there) on the very first ballot. What’s Goose going to do, boycott the ceremony?

Taking away Mo’s rookie season of 1995, when he started 10 games, from 1996 to the end of his career, Mariano pitched in 950 games, 1216 2/3 IP, averaging almost 1 1/3 innings per appearance—not too far off of Goose’s 1978-1983 average of 1 2/3. Rivera, of course, finished his career 82-60, a record 652 saves, 2.21 ERA and ERA+ a record 205.

And Mo did pitch three innings in Game 7 of the 2003 ALCS.

The game changed. Goose should not hold Mo responsible for that or disparage Mo. Mo did his job, as the job requirements demanded at that time, as good or better than anyone else, just as Goose did his job, as the requirements demanded at the time, as good or better than anyone else.

The game has changed. Pitchers don’t throw complete games anymore. You don’t see starters throwing 300 innings in a season anymore. But you don’t hear Sandy Koufax or Bob Gibson bitching about today’s great starters, do you?

In the same way, relief pitching has changed. I’m old school, and can agree with and sympathize with Gossage’s opinion.

But at the same time, Goose comes across as a bitter, classless, crotchety old man.

It’s to the classy Rivera’s credit that he doesn’t respond in kind. Mo’s not like that.

Enough already. Goose should just praise Mo for the great reliever he was, add that there were two different kinds of eras, and say I was great in mine, Mo was great in his, and be done with it.

Because Goose’s bitching is getting rather tiresome.

Between Goose’s rant and Randy Levine’s gloating over the Dellin Betances’ arbitration case, I was a little ashamed this week—a week I usually can’t wait for, what with spring training starting.

Hey guys, zip it, and let’s concentrate on baseball. Don’t disparage the game and the players but respect and honor good players.

Because your comments this week were very sad to hear, and I’m sure I am not the only Yankees fan saddened, disheartened, and quite frankly, a bit pissed at what I saw and heard.

Betances loses arbitration case, Bleier DFA’d, and not too nice thoughts on Randy Levine.

Yankee Stadium Frieze

In his three full years as a Yankee, Dellin Betances has been an All-Star all three times, and has averaged 5-3, 1.93. That wasn’t good enough for him to win an arbitration case, where he wanted $5MM for 2017. He’ll settle for $3MM instead.

But that is where it should have ended. Now you start the season. But no, team president Randy Levine, whom I have never liked because of various arrogant things he has said and done (remember his quotes from last year’s trade deadline?) came out afterwards and basically rubbed the decision right into Betances’ face, like doing a touchdown dance and spiking the ball right into your face.

Why? Why rub it in and piss off your player, especially when he is one of the best players on the team and one of the best setup men in baseball? For a $2MM difference? Why not just say it’s over with and wish Betances a good year?

Betances was pissed at what Levine had to say and I don’t blame him. I hope it doesn’t affect Betances for the season.

As for Levine, once a jerk, always a jerk.

The Yanks earlier this week DFA’d Richard Bleier to make room for newly acquired Chris Carter on the roster. I was sad to see this. Bleier, 29, LHP, did a good job for the Yanks in 2016. In 23 games, 23 innings pitched, he had an ERA of just 1.96. Maybe he’ll be re-signed and go to AAA, we’ll see. But he did a good job in 2016 and I was sad to see that he got the axe because of the Carter signing.

That Carter signing doesn’t look as bad now that Austin got hurt. You never know.

Austin, Williams injured.

Yankee Stadium Frieze

When you are a young player trying to make a team, the last thing you want is to be injured in spring training where you can’t even make any impression at all.

That is just what happened to Mason Williams and Tyler Austin.

Williams, fighting to make the team as a backup OF (a spot that most likely will go to Aaron Hicks if the starting OF is the projected Gardner/Ellsbury/Judge) will miss two weeks because of inflammation of his left patellar tendon. I like what I’ve seen of Williams so far, but the injury bug has really bit him the past few years. Shoulder, now this. You wonder if time is running out on him to make a mark, what with Judge, Clint Frazier, Dustin Fowler…

And now Tyler Austin. Austin was expected to battle Greg Bird for the 1B job until the Yanks signed Chris Carter. After that signing, it was trying to make the team as a backup 1b/OF. Austin will now not make the team after breaking his foot during BP. He’ll be out six weeks, and with him being behind schedule, it is safe to assume he won’t be coming north with the big league club.

If you can’t wait to see Gary Sanchez put one over the wall, even in BP early in spring training, check out this link to see a monster shot off the scoreboard today in BP.

http://m.mlb.com/cutfour/2017/02/16/216263404/new-year-same-gary-sanchez-watch-the-yankees-phenom-blast-a-home-run-off-a-scoreboard

Tanaka named Opening Day starter.

Yankee Stadium Frieze

To no one’s surprise, Masahiro Tanaka was named the Yanks’ Opening Day Starter when they start the season on April 2 in Tampa against the Rays.

Pitchers and catchers reported yesterday.

Some players won’t be in camp because of the poorly timed World Baseball classic. I’ve never been a fan of it, especially since it keeps some players out of spring training. Didi Gregorius will be one of those Yankees’ players playing in the WBC.

The Yanks are still in arbitration hearings with Dellin Betances.

Eovaldi officially gone. What does ST mean for Refsnyder, Williams, Austin?

Yankee Stadium Frieze

Nathan Eovaldi wouldn’t have pitched for the Yankees this year anyway, being as he had Tommy John surgery (for the second time) last August and won’t be ready until 2018. Which is why he was released by the Yankees. Any chance of re-signing Eovaldi went out the window when Tampa Bay signed him yesterday.

As spring training begins with pitchers and catchers reporting tomorrow, I can’t help but wonder what this spring training means for a couple of Yankees on the cusp, so to speak. It may be their last spring training to make an impression or stick with the club because of some prospects breathing down their necks.

Rob Refsnyder. With Ronald Torreyes expected to be the utility man in the majors, Tyler Wade being groomed as a utility man, and other infielders in the system like veterans Pete Kozma and Ruben Tejada, and prospects Gleyber Torres, Jorge Mateo, and Kyle Holder, not to mention Miguel Andujar at 3B, I wonder what the future holds for Refsnyder and others listed below. Trade bait? If sent to AAA, there are those other infielders (and outfielders, see below) he would be battling just to get minor league playing time.

Tyler Austin and Mason Williams. With Aaron Judge expected to win the right field job and Aaron Hicks as his backup, and Chris Carter signed as an insurance policy for Greg Bird at 1B, not to mention Matt Holliday as 1b/DH/OF, what happens with Austin and Williams, especially since if they are sent back to AAA, where Clint Frazier and Dustin Fowler will also be there for OF playing time?

For these players, I wonder if the window of oppotunity could be closing fast, what with prospects on the come.

In any case, there is going to be some serious competition for playing time soon. Not only in the majors, but in AAA and AA too.

It could mean freeing up some room by making a deal.

Yanks sign Chris Carter. The good, the bad.

Yankee Stadium Frieze

The Yankees signed Chris Carter, 1B/OF/DH, to a 1 yr., $3MM contract today. There are good things and bad things about this. I will try to be fair in listing both.

Good. Comes cheap. How many defending league home run champs come at that price? Carter shared the NL HR lead in 2016 with 41.

Bad. Despite the 41 HR, he only hit .222 and struck out 206 times, leading the NL. .222-41-94, 206 strikeouts, OPS+ 114.

Good. He has averaged 33 HR per year over the last 4 years. 29-37-24-41.

Bad. He has also averaged a .219 batting average over that same period, with 188 strikeouts per year.

Good. He is an insurance policy for 1B/LF/RF/ DH if Bird, Austin, Judge aren’t ready or Holliday shows his age (Carter is 30), also if Gardner needs a rest against a lefty pitcher (Carter is a righty bat). He also can spell Bird against a tough lefty.

Bad. He isn’t a good fielder or baserunner. Will he impede the progress of Bird, Austin or Judge? How much does this move show a lack of confidence in Bird, Austin or Judge?

Good or Bad. Does this move signal that another move is imminent? If so, who goes and for whom?

Carter has a 162 g. average of .218-35-88, OPS+ 112. The power is good, but the batting average and strikeouts (206) are awful. All or nothing.

I don’t know how the Yanks plan on using him. It all depends on how the kids do in spring training. If Bird and Austin fail, he could play 1B. If Judge fails but Bird is Ok, then maybe Holliday plays RF and Carter DH’s. There are various scenarios that could play out.

As an insurance policy, ok… but I don’t want to see him impede the youngsters. I have mixed feelings about this. Power, yes. Versatility as far as baserunning, defense, hitting for average, making contact, no. Cheap, yes, especially for someone who hit 41 HR last year.

Can he cut down on the strikeouts and make better contact?

Full time player or platooned?

Let’s see what spring training brings…. and it isn’t too far away.