Category Archives: Winter Leagues

Sheffield avoids injury in AFL; Also, links to articles on Boone, Otani.

Yankee Stadium Frieze

Yankees’ prospect Justus Sheffield avoided more serious injury when a comebacker struck him in the leg on Saturday.

The lefty pitcher was removed in the second inning of Scottsdale’s 12-7 loss.

Yankees’ prospects in the game:

1B BIlly McKinney 1 for 2, scored two runs, 1 RBI. Single and walk. .298
3B Kyle Holder 2 for 4, double, RBI. .350

Sheffield (L, 2-2; 3.10) 1 1/3 IP, 2 R,  1 H, 1 W, 1 K.
Andrew Schwaab 2 IP, 3 R, 5 H, 1 W, 0 K. 6.75
Cody Carroll 1 IP, 0 R, 0 H, 0 W, 2 K. 0.00

Jim Bowden, Reds’ GM from 1992-2003 has interesting things to say about Aaron Boone possibly becoming a manager. You can access the link here (copy and paste into browser):

http://nypost.com/2017/11/11/why-no-experience-is-not-a-problem-for-aaron-boone/

MLB.com has some more information on Shohei Otani here:

http://m.mlb.com/news/article/261421270/shohei-ohtani-says-he-will-do-what-teams-ask/

 

 

 

Wedge, Otani, April start times, AFL

Yankee Stadium Frieze

Add another surprise name to the Yankees’ managerial search. The second person to be interviewed was Eric Wedge.

Wedge will be 50 in January. He managed Cleveland from 2003-2009, and was Cleveland’s manager when the Indians beat the Yankees in the 2007 ALDS, the series known for the midges.

He also managed Seattle from 2011-2013. In his ten years as manager, his teams averaged 77-85. He won 90 or more games twice and the only team he took to the playoffs was that 2007 Indians team (which featured CC Sabathia) that blew a 3 games to 1 lead to Boston in the ALCS.

Nevertheless, Wedge was named Manager of the Year for 2007.

As a player, Wedge, a catcher, only got 86 at bats, hitting .233-5-12, OPS+ 107.

Shohei Otani has been posted by his Japanese team and is someone the Yankees are very interested in. Not only that, the Japanese “Babe Ruth” (because he pitches and hits well) would very much like to come to the Yankees. If you haven’t heard of him, he is just 23, bats left, throws right and not only pitches well (can hit 100 MPH) but also hits well also.

The Yanks are expected to be quiet on the free agent front….except for this guy and possibly bringing back CC and Todd Frazier. (I don’t think Frazier returns, because of Headley, Gleyber Torres and Miguel Andujar, and if the Yanks do sign Otani, then CC may not be signed).

Otani has played in 403 games in Japan as a hitter, and if you take 403/3 that is 134 or about 3 seasons worth, so doing that, he has averaged .286-16-55 as a hitter.

As a pitcher, in 85 games, 82 starts, (85/3 is 28, so once again about 3 seasons worth), he has averaged 14-5, 2.52.

Brian Cashman flew to Japan in August to check on Otani personally. The Yankees have heavily scouted him.

Other teams obviously are interested also. We’ll see who gets him.

The Yanks are changing the start times of their home games (seven) in April, 2018 to a 6:35 start. This only affects the Mon-Thurs. games.

In the Arizona Fall League, Scottsdale lost 3-1, getting only 3 hits. Rough night for Yankees’ prospects:

SS Thairo Estrada 0 for 4, 2 strikeouts. .353
LF Billy McKinney 0 for 4, 2 strikeouts. .291
RF Estevan Florial 0 for 3 with a walk. .254.

The Marlins have held preliminarty talks with four clubs about dealing Giancarlo Stanton. One team should worry the Yankees. It’s Boston. The others are the Giants, Cardinals and Phillies.

According to MLB.com,

The Marlins, under new ownership, are prepared to make “unpopular decisions” — as chief executive officer Derek Jeter put it — in order to rebuild their farm system and increase payroll flexibility. A Stanton trade could help them to do both.

Stanton, the reigning Major League home run champion, has 10 years and $295 million left on his contract, albeit with an opt-out following the 2020 season. He also possesses a full no-trade clause.

The Cardinals are considered the favorite to land Stanton. It would take a boatload of prospects (which the Yankees have) and the willingness to take on a lot of money (the Yankees could take on the $$$, but don’t have the willingness to gut their farm system or take on a contract like that, especially since Hal wants to get under that salary cap), so even though it would be intriguing to see Stanton and his 59 HR in 2017 in a lineup with Judge and Sanchez, keep dreaming. I don’t see it happening.

But if Hal can get under that cap this year, there is a huge and better free agent class after the 2018 season (Harper? Machado?) and if you still have the prospects, and now got under the cap, a big splurge could be made. That is one dream that could become reality.

Yankees news: Silver Sluggers. Boone mgr. candidate? AFL. Another A-Rod endorsement.

Yankee Stadium Frieze

Congratulations to Aaron Judge and Gary Sanchez, recipients of the Silver Slugger Awards at their positions.

Another player has endorsed A-Rod for Yankees’ manager: Carlos Beltran.

Here is the problem I have with A-Rod.

Back in the 1930s, Babe Ruth wanted to manage. The line teams gave on Babe Ruth was this: “if he can’t manage himself, how will he manage a team?”

The same applies to A-Rod. Suspended for a full year because of steroids, if he couldn’t manage his own affairs, how could he manage a a team?

Despite recommendations from CC and Carlos Beltran, how do they defend that question?

Besides, I don’t believe that all of A-Rod’s outside interests (including J-Lo) would permit him to manage the Yankees.

Apparently Rob Thomson had a five-hour interview with the Yanks about becoming their next manager.

Besides David Cone and John Flaherty being interested in the job, another interesting name has developed.

Aaron Boone.

Now Boone has a lot of baseball pedigree, and not only as ESPN’s voice on ball games the past few seasons. He fits as a younger manager, just 44.

The bane of Red Sox Nation since his HR to end the 2003 ALCS has a grandpa (Ray Boone) who was a 2x All-Star in the 1950s who led the AL in 1955 in RBI.

His dad, Bob, was a top-notch catcher in the 1970s and 1980s for the Phillies and Angels and who managed for a few years. Bob was a 4x All-Star, and 7x Gold Glove C who could work with Sanchez. Could Bob, even though he will be 70 soon, be a bench coach for his son and work with Sanchez?

Aaron Boone’s brother Bret was a MLB star.

In the AFL, Yankees’ prospects: (Scottsdale lost, 7-6):

SS Kyle Holder, 0 for 4, walked, Scored a run
LF Billy McKinney 1 for 3, walked 3 x.

 

 

Ex-CYA winner Halladay dies in plane crash; no GG for Gardner, Judge; AFL news.

Yankee Stadium Frieze

2x CYA winner and 8x All Star Roy Halladay was killed yesterday in a plane crash. He was 40.

Halladay pitched for the Toronto Blue Jays (1998-2009) and Philadelphia Phillies (2010-2013) winning 203 games. He won the CYA for Toronto in 200 and for the Phillies in 2010. He finished second in 2008 and 2011.

He was a 3x 20-game winner. On two other occasions he won 19.

He led the majors in wins twice, games started once. Seven times he led the league in complete games (a horse), four times in shutouts, four times in innings pitched.

He even finished top-10 in MVP voting twice—Sixth in 2010, Ninth in 2011.

In 2010, he pitched a perfect game in the regular season, then in the postseason threw a no-hitter in the NLDS.

He was 203-105 for an excellent winning pct. of .659. His 162 game average was 17-9, 3.38, ERA+ 131.

He was 3-2, 2.37 in five postseason starts.

He is eligible for the HOF with next year’s voting, after the 2018 season, along with Mariano Rivera and Andy Pettitte, among others. He has a good case.

What is also remarkable is how he rebounded and became a stud pitcher after having had a disastrous 2000 season—4-7, 10.64 ERA. That says a lot.

Brett Gardner and Aaron Judge were finalists for the Gold Glove awards, but both were denied. In LF it went to Alex Gordon, and Mookie Betts won for RF.

In the Arizona Fall League, Scottsdale lost 3-2.

Yankees’ prospects:

CF Estevan Florial 0 for 2, 2 walks, scored a run. .268
1B Billy McKinney 1 for 3, walk, scored a run. .313
SS Thairo Estrada 1 for 3, walk, .375

RP Cody Carroll 2/3 IP, 0 R, 0 H, 0 W, 0 K. 0.00

 

 

 

Yankees and Baseball news.

Yankee Stadium Frieze

Free agency starts, and the Yankees didn’t offer qualifying offers ($17.4MM) to any of its free agents, Matt Holliday, Michael Pineda and CC Sabathia. Since Todd Frazier and Jaime Garcia were traded mid-season, they didn’t qualify for the offers.

Personally, outside of maybe re-signing CC for only a 1-yr. deal (and if they get the Japanese “Babe Ruth”, Shohei Otani, a 23 yr. old who not only pitches but hits well, CC wouldn’t be necessary), I would go after Alex Avila and see if he would back up Gary Sanchez. Avila is a lefty bat with a little pop. If he could catch 80 games, and hit .240 with 10 HR, I’d be happy. Austin Romine is a nice defensive catcher, but Romine can’t hit a lick (.218-2-21 in 80 games this year, OPS+ only 49).

As for Todd Frazier, it’s hard to see the Yanks bringing him back on a multi-year deal when they have not only Headley signed for next year, but also have prospects Gleyber Torres and Miguel Andujar so close to being major league ready.

The Yanks did add Jake Cave and Nick Rumbelow to the 40-man roster. Cave, a soon to be 25 year old OF, is a lefty bat who hit .305-20-56 in 103 games between AA/AAA this year. Rumbelow, 26. a righty reliever, was briefly with the Yanks in 2015, going 1-1, 4.02. He missed all of 2016 recovering from TJ surgery, and was 5-1, 1.12 with six saves between AA and AAA this year.

Finalists for the top baseball awards were announced. Finalist means that person finished in the top three. Winners will be announced next week.

AL ROY: Benintendi, Judge, Mancini
NL ROY: Bell, Bellinger, DeJong
AL Mgr. of the Year: Molitor, Hinch, Francona
NL Mgr. of the Year: Roberts, Bud Black, Torey Luvullo.
NL CYA: Kershaw, Scherzer, Strasburg. Two teammates may cancel each other out.
AL CYA: Kluber, Sale and Severino. I expect Seve to finish 3rd.
AL MVP: Altuve, Judge, Jose Ramirez
NL MVP: Stanton, Goldschmidt, Votto

Ten candidates have been selected for Modern Era Hall of Fame consideration. 75% of the vote of a panel is necessary to enshrine these people not selected by the writers. Formerly known as the Veterans’ Committee, this year they concentrate on overlooked candidates who mostly had their impact from 1970-1987.  They are Marvin Miller (advocate for the players and the players union), Don Mattingly, Tommy John, Steve Garvey, Jack Morris, Alan Trammell, Dale Murphy, Dave Parker, Ted Simmons, and Luis Tiant. You can make a case for all of them. (Bold are players who, even briefly, played for the Yankees).

Brian Cashman came out today and said the reason Joe Girardi wasn’t brought back as manager was because of a disconnect and lack of communication with the players. Girardi stated that he would like to manage again somewhere.

In the Arizona Fall League, Scottsdale lost 5-2. Yankees’ prospects:

SS Thairo Estrada 3 for 4, .377
RF Estevan Florial 0 for 4, .278

SP Albert Abreu (Loss, 0-2, 3.18) 3 2/3 IP, 3 R, 2 H, 5 W, 3 K. Gave up 1 HR.
RP Andrew Schwaab 1 IP, 0 R, 1 H, 2 W, 3 K. 4.91

Arizona Fall League All-Star Game.

Yankee Stadium Frieze

The Arizona Fall League had its All-Star Game last night (some of you may have caught some of it on the MLB network) and the East (the team with some Yankees’ prospects) beat the West, 4-2.

Yankees’ prospects in the game:

Justus Sheffield started for the East. 2 IP, 1 R, 3 H, 1 W, 2 K.

Billy Mckinney started in LF, cleanup hitter. 0 for 2. Struck out once.

Thairo Estrada started at 2B. Batted 8th. 0 for 2. Struck out once. Was robbed of a double on a great catch his first time up.

Someplace brought up the name of Aaron Boone as someone who may want to leave the broadcast booth and get into the dugout. Tough to leave that broadcast booth, but Boone does have a lot of baseball in him. His grandfather Ray was a player in the 1950s, his dad Bob a catcher for many years (and a manager himself) and Aaron’s brother Bret also a player. Aaron, of course, will always be remembered for his HR that won the 2003 pennant for the Yankees. Once again, would Cashman take on someone without previous managerial experience?

Tanaka stays, doesn’t Opt-out. Ausmus? Flaherty?

Yankee Stadium Frieze

One big question mark about the Yankees’ offseason was answered yesterday.

Most likely, they will NOT have to shop for a starting pitcher.

Masahiro Tanaka has decided NOT to exercise his opt-out, and will stay with the Yankees for the next 3 years at $67MM.

It is quite possible that he figured he can’t get a better deal elsewhere. He has had the partial UCL tear for a while that he’s been pitching with, and it is a ticking time bomb that could require Tommy John surgery down the road.

Even though he had a great postseason (2-1, only 2 ER in 20 IP), Tanaka’s regular season was the worst of his career, 13-12, 4.74, ERA+ 95.

In his four seasons with the Yanks, he has averaged 13-7, 3.56, ERA+ 118. The elbow and various other injuries have limited him to an average of 26 starts per season, so he’s missed about 5-6 starts per season on the average.

But still, solid. You hope the elbow holds up and that he has a bounce-back year.

The Yanks’ starting rotation is pretty much set for next season: Severino, Gray, Tanaka and Montgomery.

The question now is #5. Do you bring CC Sabathia (a free agent) back, and at what price? CC is 37 and would turn 38 in the middle of next year. Do you only offer a one-year deal when he may be looking for two? Do you cut his salary in half, from $25MM to $12MM?

Or do you continue the youth movement, thank CC for his service, and move on to a youngster like Chance Adams or Justus Sheffield?

The Yanks could also move on from CC by trading someone like Dellin Betances, who had trouble and was unreliable down the stretch and in the postseason, for a starting pitcher. They then could “groom” a youngster like Adams or Sheffield (and there are more coming, like Albert Abreu,  Domingo Acevedo and Domingo German) to be in the bullpen first before becoming a starter.

They could also move someone like Chad Green or Adam Warren to the rotation, but I don’t see that happening. The bullpen, with Green, Warren, Kahnle, Robertson, Chapman and maybe Betances (if he isn’t traded) is such a strength.

We’ll see what happens with CC next. But a good start. Tanaka back, don’t have to shop for a starter like Darvish (who flopped in the WS) or Arrietta.

As for manager, one scout predicts that Brad Ausmus, recently fired by the Tigers, will wind up the Yankees manager. Ausmus was once a Yankees’ prospect who was lost in the expansion draft.

Ausmus, like Girardi, was a catcher who was mostly known for his defense and who was an OK hitter without much power. From 1993-2010, he played for the Padres, Tigers, Astros, Tigers again, Astros again, and Dodgers. His average year was about .251-5-40. OPS+75. A 1x All-Star, 3x Gold Glove. He played in 35 postseason games, all with Houston. .245-3-7.  He was their starting catcher when the Astros lost the 2005 WS. He fits the young manager the Yanks may be looking for, since he is just 48 years old.

He managed the Tigers the last four seasons, going 314-332. In his first year managing Detroit, he won 90 games and the division title, but they were swept by Baltimore in the ALDS. Since then, 74, 86 and 64 wins. The Tigers got old, had a fire sale (got rid of Avila, Verlander, J.D. Martinez) and their farm system stinks. Maybe with the Yanks he has something better to work with. Like Girardi, and Torre before him, a catcher with managerial experience elsewhere who now settles into the Bronx, where he has better talent to work with.

Another possible candidate could be YES broadcaster John Flaherty. It is rumored that he would like to manage. Flaherty, through his YES work, knows the team. Another former catcher, Flaherty is 50. A big leaguer from 1992-2005 (the last three years as Posada’s backup with the Yankees), Flaherty’s average season if he caught 104 or 105 games would be .252-8-40. OPS+ 74. He played for Boston, Detroit, San Diego, Tampa Bay and the Yankees. He made the playoffs with the Padres and Yankees.

But would Cashman choose someone with no managerial experience?

In the Arizona Fall League, Billy McKinney joins Thairo Estrada and Justus Sheffield on the All-Star Team. Scottsdale won Friday night 3-0 on a one-hitter. Yankees’ prospects:

CF Estevan Florial 2 for 5, .300
1B Billy McKinney 1 for 3, RBI, .311
SS Thairo Estrada 2 for 4, .353