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.

 

 

Recent passings.

Yankee Stadium Frieze

A couple tragedies this past week. On the same day, in two separate car crashes in the Dominican Republic, Royals’ pitcher Yordano Ventura and former MLB infielder Andy Marte died.

Ventura, 25, was 38-31, 3.89, ERA+ 107 in his brief MLB career. He won 14 games for the 2014 AL Champs and 13 for the 2015 WS Champs. He finished 6th in ROY voting in 2014. He went 1-2, 4.66 in 10 postseason games. He was 11-12, 4.45 in 2016.

Marte, 33, played for Atlanta in 2005, Cleveland 2006-2010, and Arizona in 2014. In 308 games, 854 at bats, he hit .218-21-99. His 162 g. average was .218-11-52, OPS+ 69. He played 3B and 1B.

Also, pitcher Jackie Brown died at the age of 73 on January 8. Brown was with the Washington Senators 1970-1971, the Texas Ranger 1973-1975, Cleveland 1975-1976 and Montreal 1977. He went 47-53, 4.18 in his career, ERA+ 87. His best year was in 1974, when he went 13-12, 3.57 for a Billy Martin-led Rangers team that surprisingly finished second in the AL West. His 162 G. average was 10-11, 4.18, 22 starts, 24 more relief appearances.

3 make Hall of Fame. Posada one and done.

Yankee Stadium Frieze

A few days ago, I wrote about how it was appearing that Jorge Posada would be one and done in the Hall of Fame balloting. Unfortunately, that came to pass as Posada only got 3.8% of the vote, short of the 5% needed to stay on the ballot for another year.

It amazes me how people like Posada, Bernie, Cone, Tino, Wells and O’Neill could fall off the ballot after only a year or two. I’m not saying they are Hall of Famers. I’m saying that I’m surprised they didn’t last longer on the ballot.

Here are the vote totals. 75% was needed for induction.

Some notes on some.

Jeff Bagwell, 381 votes, 86.2%
Tim Raines, 380 votes, 86.0%
Ivan Rodriguez, 336 votes, 76.0%
Trevor Hoffman, 327 votes, 74.0% Missed by 5 votes.
Vladimir Guerrero, 317 votes, 71.7% Just missed by 15 votes.
Edgar Martinez, 259 votes, 58.6%
Roger Clemens, 239 votes, 54.1% Picking up steam despite the PED allegations.
Barry Bonds, 238 votes, 53.8% See Clemens.
Mike Mussina, 229 votes, 51.8% Nice pickup in voting.
Curt Schilling, 199 votes, 45.0% Recent comments hurt him.
Lee Smith, 151 votes, 34.2%
Manny Ramirez, 105 votes, 23.8%
Larry Walker, 97 votes, 21.9%
Fred McGriff, 96 votes, 21.7% 493 HR, no steroids, no respect.
Jeff Kent, 74 votes, 16.7% One of best hitting 2B ever. 377 HR
Gary Sheffield, 59 votes, 13.3% 509 HR and ….
Billy Wagner, 45 votes, 10.2% Probably better stats than Hoffman
Sammy Sosa, 38 votes, 8.6%

Jorge Posada, 17 votes, 3.8% Too bad off ballot so soon.
Magglio Ordonez, 3 votes, 0.7%
Edgar Renteria, 2 votes, 0.5%
Jason Varitek, 2 votes, 0.5%
Tim Wakefield, 1 vote,0.2%
Casey Blake, 0 votes, 0.0%
Pat Burrell, 0 votes, 0.0%
Orlando Cabrera, 0 votes, 0.0%
Mike Cameron, 0 votes, 0.0%
J.D. Drew, 0 votes, 0.0%
Carlos Guillen, 0 votes, 0.0%
Derrek Lee, 0 votes, 0.0%
Melvin Mora, 0 votes, 0.0%
Arthur Rhodes, 0 votes, 0.0%
Freddy Sanchez, 0 votes, 0.0%
Matt Stairs, 0 votes, 0.0%

So Raines gets in. Long overdue in my opinion. 2605 hits. 808 SB. .294. OPS+ 123. One of the best leadoff hitters ever. 1979-2002. Expos, White Sox, Yankees, A’s, Expos again, Orioles and Marlins. Member of 1996 and 1998 Yankees, albeit as a part-timer then. 7x all star. 3x top 10 in MVP voting. Runnerup for 1981 ROY. Led league in runs scored 2x, batting average once, SB 4x. Doubles once. 162 g. average .294-11-63 with 52 SB.

Bagwell 1991-2005, all with Houston. 449 HR. .297. OPS+ 149 which is outstanding. ROY 1991. MVP 1994. Top 10 in MVP 5x, runnerup in 1999. 4x All Star. Led league in runs scored 3x, doubles once, RBI once. 100 or more RBI 8x, led league once, averaged 106 walks/yr. For a 1B, 202 steals, did 30/30 twice. Led league in walks once. Avg. `162 g. .297-34-115, 15 SB.

Rodriguez 1991-2011. Rangers, Tigers, Yankees (where he was lousy, just 3 RBI in 33 games) Astros, Rangers again, Nationals. 1999 MVP. 2844 hits. 14x All star. 13 Gold Gloves. 4x Top 10 MVP voting. For a catcher, 17 x had 100 or more games in a season. OPS+ 106. 162 g. ave: .296-20-85.

Ok. There are rumors about Bagwell and Rodriguez’ PED usage. Sosa didn’t pick up ground, but Bonds and Clemens did. Manny Ramirez came in low despite his 555 HR because of his two suspensions for PED usage. Where these voters stand on PED usage is anyone’s guess.

As for next year’s newcomers to the ballot, I expect Chipper Jones and Jim Thome to get in, and Andruw Jones to miss out.

It’s time for Pineda to earn his money.

Yankee Stadium Frieze

Next Wednesday, January 18, Michael Pineda turns 28. He got an early birthday present when his salary got bumped up from $4.3 million last year  to $7.4 million this year.

You can say he didn’t earn it. In 2016, he was 6-12 with a 4.82 ERA. ERA+ 90. The year before, 12-10, 4.37. ERA+ 93. An average ERA+ is 100. So in the last two seasons, 18-22, 4.60, ERA+ 91. An average of 9-11 a year. Or….. Below average.

And…..that’s one hefty raise for only six wins and an ERA of almost five.

With the Yankees’ rotation being very shaky behind Tanaka (and Pineda being a big part of that), it’s time for Pineda to earn his money. If the Yankees are going to compete in 2017, Pineda must stop being an enigma and start to realize and show the talent he has.

With Pineda it doesn’t seem to be about the arm, but what’s between his ears. (The Pine-tar on the neck, for instance?).

He’s won 10  or more games in a season just once. He is 32-37, 3.99 in his career, ERA+ 101.

He’s a free agent after the 2017 season. It’s time for him to earn his keep. Not just for the 2017 Yankees, but for his own pocketbook for 2018 and beyond.

Will Posada be one and done on HOF ballot?

Sources indicate Posada to retire

Next Wednesday, the Baseball Hall of Fame will announce the Class of 2017. One person following published ballots states that it appears as if Tim Raines, Jeff Bagwell and Ivan Rodriguez (despite steroid allegations against Pudge) will get into the Hall (joining Bud Selig and John Schuerholz) and that Trevor Hoffman and Vladimir Guerrero are close. Reports are that alleged steroid users Roger Clemens and Barry Bonds are getting more votes than before.

Reports are also that Jorge Posada may be dropped off the ballot after just one year. You need 5% to stay on. With some still on the ballot that should have gotten in already (Bonds and Clemens due to the steroid allegations), and the fact that a voter can only vote for 10, this hurts the candidacy of those who are borderline Hall of Famers who maybe should get a second or third look. For example, this is Raines’ 10th and final year on the ballot. Personally, I think Raines should get in. He was one of the greatest leadoff men ever, although he was overshadowed in his time by Rickey Henderson. Raines hit .294 and stole 808 bases. He got on base and stole bases. He averaged 86 walks per 162 games. 2605 hits. What more should a leadoff man do?

I’m not saying Jorge is or isn’t a Hall of Famer. His bat was great for a catcher, .273 with 275 HR. His defense wasn’t as good (no Gold Glove Awards, for example). JAWS (on baseball-reference.com) lists him as the 16th best catcher in baseball history. I don’t know if Thurman Munson would have made the HOF had he not passed away in that tragic plane crash, but he’s ranked #12. One person much like Posada, a catcher with a good bat and who wasn’t known for his D, Ted Simmons, is ranked #10. Simmons isn’t in the Hall.

The point is, Jorge may drop off the ballot after one year, which seems sad. And it’s strange. The 1998 Yankees are probably the greatest team I’ve seen in my lifetime. From 1996-2001 the Yanks were in six WS, winning four and narrowly missing four straight and five out of six.

Yet how many HOFers would you get off that team (Torre is already in as the manager, and the veterans committee bypassed Steinbrenner as owner this past year)? You’d be amazed how many players dropped off the ballot early.

Here is a list of some of the best players on the Yanks from 1996-2006 or so:

Cone 194 wins, 3.46 ERA. 1 year on the ballot. 3.9% and off.
Wells 239 wins, 4.13 ERA. 1 year, .9% and off.
Pettitte not eligible yet. 256 wins, 3.85 ERA but HGH usage may hurt.
Rivera not eligible yet, a sure-fire HOF on the first ballot.
Mussina 270 wins, 3.68 ERA. 20.3%, 24.6% and last year 43% and picking up more steam this year. But it takes 75% to get in.
Clemens 354 wins, 3.12 ERA. Should have been in but for the PEDs. 37.6, 35.4, 37.5 and last year 45.2% Reports are he and Bonds may get over 60% this year.
Kenny Rogers. Yeah, stunk as a Yankee. But 219 wins, 4.27 ERA. .2% and off.
Kevin Brown (yeah, I know, but I am listing him and Rogers because both did have over 200 career wins) 211 wins, 3.28 ERA(!) 2.1% and off.
I won’t list El Duque. His time in Cuba hurts because he got to the USA too late.
Posada looks like 4% and off if the current trend continues.
Tino 339 HR. 1% and off.
Giambi not eligible yet.
Jeter not eligible yet, a sure-fire first ballot HOF.
A-Rod not eligible, we’ll have to see what with the PED usage.
Raines was a part-timer for a few years when he was a Yankee, see above.
Sheffield 509 HR. 11.7 and 11.6% We’ll see where he lands this year. 500 HR isn’t as automatic as it used to be.
O’Neill 2.2% and off.
Bernie Williams 9.6%, 3.3% and off.
Soriano not eligible yet.
Sierra 306 HR and not one vote.
Fielder 319 HR (same as his son Prince, listing him and Sierra only because they had more HR than say O’Neill and Bernie) .2%
Matsui and Damon go on the ballot next year.

Robbie Cano is still playing, obviously. JAWS has him ranked #12 on all-time second baseman. At 34, three more great years could get him in.

I’m not saying all deserved to stay on after one year, esp. in some cases like say Brown, Fielder, Rogers or Sierra for example.

But it’s a bit surprising, to me at least, to see how quickly Cone, Wells, Bernie, Tino, and O’Neill for example, got dropped off the ballot. …. and Jorge may join that list.

 

Ex-MLB pitcher Bill Champion dies at 69.

Yankee Stadium Frieze

Even though I am a Yankees fan, I don’t live far from Philadelphia, and there are many Phillies fans where I live.

On Jan. 7, a former Phillies pitcher, Bill Champion, passed away at the age of 69. He was 34-50, 4.69, ERA+ 78 in his career with the Phils & Brewers from 1969-1976.

Not much Yankees news to report, which is why I’ve been silent. Waiting for the NFL. Go Steelers, beat KC.

You’ll hear more from me next week when the HOF class of 2017 is announced.