Category Archives: The Front Office

Game 36. CC back on track. Yanks win 7-1 behind Sanchez, Carter HRs.

Yankee Stadium Frieze

CC Sabathia got off the tracks the last few starts, but righted himself tonight in the Yanks’ 7-1 win over KC.

In his first 3 starts of the season, CC had an ERA of 1.47. But in his next four starts, he went 0-2 with an ERA of 9.58, raising that ERA from 1.47 to 5.77.

Good to see him get back on track tonight with 6 2/3 shutout innings.

Gary Sanchez gave him all the runs he would need with a 3-run HR (3) in the third inning.

The struggling Chris Carter made it 5-0 in the fourth with a 2-run HR (2).

In the seventh, singles by Castro, Judge and Ellsbury made it 6-0.

In the eighth, Didi walked and Carter singled. With one out, Sanchez walked to load the bases. A run scored on a forceout by Holliday.

KC scored a run in the bottom of the ninth to avoid the shutout.

Chase Headley made a couple of tough grabs off some liners that were smoked.

Sanchez 2 h, HR, 3 RBI.
Castro 2 hits, .340
Judge 2 hits, .320
Gregorius 2 hits, .313
Carter 3 hits, HR, 2 RBI. Good to see him finally break out. The way he was going, his job was on the line, be it being replaced by Tyler Austin, or Ji-Man Choi even with Greg Bird coming back from injury, whenever that could be.

Austin may begin rehab games this weekend.

Sabathia (w, 3-2, 4.93) 6 2/3 IP, 0 R, 5 H, 2 W, 4 K.
Clippard 1 1/3 IP, 0 R, 1 H, 0 W, 1 K. 1.08
Holder 1 IP, 1 R, 2 H, 1 W, 1 K. 2.16

Gee, after cutting down Dellin Betances in arbitration, now Yankees president Randy Levine is praising him saying he could do the job for Chapman as the closer now that Chapman is hurt. What a disgusting hypocrite. Chop him up and shoot your mouth off bragging about winning arbitration in February, and kiss his ass now.

Shut up and go away, Randy.

Random thoughts as we head to Opening Day.

Yankee Stadium Frieze

I don’t mind the Sanchez 2 Bird 3 lineup. Girardi wants to be certain that both get up in the first inning where if they weren’t 2-3 one of them wouldn’t get up in the first in the event of a 1-2-3 inning. Also more at bats for when the lineup turns over.  Basically it’s subbing Bird in the first inning for Ellsbury (as well as splitting lefty/righty hitters).

I do wonder about Ellsbury fifth, and also have to wonder how temporary that would be and how much lower Ellsbury goes down in the lineup.

For don’t you think that when Didi Gregorius is back, that HE will be hitting fifth, not Ellsbury, and that Ellsbury would then be hitting, say, eighth? Especially since Didi had 20 HR last year and was showing power again in the WBC and in spring training before his injury?

Gardner-Sanchez-Bird-Holliday-Didi-Castro-Headley-Ellsbury-Judge/Hicks when Didi gets healthy?

More random thoughts. It depends on how long Tyler Austin takes to heal, but if Chris Carter continues to be a whiff machine, should he be looking over his shoulder when Austin finally is ready to play?

The coaching staff wanted to bring Gleyber Torres north, even though he has never played above AA. Says a lot. The front office wants him to get more experience in the minors, at least in AA before coming up to the majors. Could be bypass AAA altogether? It just shows how fast he is coming.

I also think Gardner and Ellsbury should be looking over their shoulders. Gardner would be the easiest one to move because of Ellsbury’s prohibitive salary. But with both starting to hit the age of 33 and showing some decline, and with some promising outfielders coming (Fowler, Rutherford, Frazier, McKinney, Mason Williams), I wouldn’t be surprised to see one moved.

In fact, Gardner hasn’t had too good of a spring training. If the Yanks wanted to play their best outfield based on spring training results, the argument wouldn’t be over RF (Hicks or Judge) but CENTER field (Gardner or Ellsbury). They would have Hicks in LF and Judge in RF, for both have done better than Gardner or Ellsbury this spring. Just saying.

Jon Niese re-signed with the Yanks after being released the other day. He’ll stay in Tampa in extended spring training to build up more arm strength. A surgery late last year has him behind.

The next two days are huge in filling out the rotation. Jordan Montgomery starts today vs. Toronto and Luis Severino starts tomorrow vs. the Phillies. It will be very interesting to see how they do and if their performances make them or break them as far as being in the rotation. The Yanks won’t need a fifth starter until April 16.

Pete Kozma (good field/can’t hit water if he fell out of a boat) may make the team with Didi out, then get DFA’d when Didi is ready.  I’d like to see Tyler Wade there instead of Kozma, though.

UPDATE: Wade and Kyle Higashioka were sent down to minor league camp last night.

We’ll see what happens. A lot of decisions on the 25 man roster have to be made in the next few days. The season starts Sunday.

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.

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.