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.
The Yankees had to set their 40-man roster before the Rule 5 draft and wanted to protect a couple of youngsters from that draft.
In order to do so, they made some moves.
The first was that they released Jacoby Ellsbury. In doing so, they are eating the $21MM he is owed for 2020 and also paying him $5MM for a 2021 buyout. They are eating $26MM and yes, that money for 2020 still will count against the cap. Ellsbury didn’t play at all for the Yankees in 2018 and 2019.
Ellsbury did play for them 2014-2017, with his best year being his first, in 2014 (.271-16-70 with 39 SB, OPS+ 111). So the Yanks got NOTHING from him for the last three years of his contract and had to buy out 2021.
The Yanks also DFA’d Greg Bird and Nestor Cortes, Jr.
Bird hit .261 with 11 HR in 46 games at the end of 2015, filling in for the injured Mark Teixeira but has had trouble with injuries since. He missed all of 2016 due to injury, hit .190 in 48 games in 2017, .199 in 82 games in 2018 and was just 6 for 35 in 10 games in 2019. His big highlight was his HR in Game 3 of the 2017 ALDS off of Andrew Miller that won the game for the Yanks 1-0 and kept them alive in the playoffs that year.
Cortes, Jr. was 5-1, 5.67 for the Yankees in 2019, ERA+ 79, in one start and 32 relief appearances.
The Yanks added Estevan Florial, Deivi Garcia, Luis Gil, Brooks Kriske, Luis Medina, Nick Nelson and Miguel Yajure to the 40-man roster to protect them from the Rule 5 draft.
Florial: 22 on Nov. 25. OF lefty bat. .237-8-38 at High A Tampa in 2019.
Garcia: 20. 5-9, 4.28 combined A+/AA/AAA in 2019. 165 K in 111.1 IP. 21 starts, 5 relief.
Gil: 21. 5-5, 2.72 at A/A+ combined in 2019. 20 starts. 123 K in 96 IP.
Kriske: 25. 3-3, 2.08 at A+/AA combined in 2019. 12 saves. 80 K in 60.2 IP.
Medina: 20. 1-8, 5.47 at A/A+ combined in 2019. 22 starts. 127 K in 103.2 IP.
Nelson: 24 on Dec. 5. 8-3, 2.81 at A+/AA/AAA in 2019. 17 starts, 1 relief. 114 K in 89.2 IP.
Yajure: 21. 9-6, 2.14 at A+/AA in 2019. 20 starts, 4 relief. 133 K in 138.2 IP.
The Yankees did not extend a qualifying offer of $17.8MM to Didi Gregorius. If he leaves as a free agent, the Yanks receive no compensation.
It could be that the Yanks want him back, but at less than that figure. But Didi now can talk to anyone.
Didi made $11.75MM last season, when he missed a significant amount of time recovering from TJ surgery. He played in 82 games, and despite hitting 16 HR and driving in 61 runs, only hit .238 with an OPS+ of 87. It was his worst OPS+ since his first year with the Yanks in 2015.
One other problem is that Didi didn’t walk much. His OBP was just .276.
As such, the Yanks probably didn’t think a raise from $11.75MM to $17.8MM was warranted or deserved. IF the Yanks want him back, it probably would be for less than $17.8MM.
Didi hopes to return. We will see.
Gregorius was one of seven Yankees to hit free agency on Halloween, following right-hander Dellin Betances, outfielder Brett Gardner, right-hander Cory Gearrin (who I don’t expect back), outfielder Cameron Maybin (questionable), catcher Austin Romine (would he come back as a backup or does he want to start elsewhere) and retired left-hander CC Sabathia.
As you know, the Yankees declined a $20 million option on first baseman Edwin Encarnacion, instead paying him a $5 million buyout.
Of that group, the Yankees seem most likely to pursue a reunion with Gardner, who could man center field in the wake of Aaron Hicks’ Tommy John surgery.
The Yankees announced the following roster moves on Monday:
• Reinstated 3B Miguel Andújar, 1B Greg Bird, OF Jacoby Ellsbury and RHP Jonathan Holder from the 60-day injured list.
• Reinstated RHP Jake Barrett from the 60-day IL and outrighted him to Triple-A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre.
• LHP Tyler Lyons has elected free agency in lieu of accepting an outright assignment to Triple-A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre.
Aaron Boone has been named as one of three finalists for AL Mgr. of the Year.
D.J. LeMahieu may get consideration for MVP, but he won’t be in the top 3. The top 3 are Bregman, Trout and Semien but the order won’t be revealed until Nov. 14.
Also from MLB.com:
The National Baseball Hall of Fame announced 10 candidates under consideration for induction as part of the 2020 Modern Baseball Era ballot: Dwight Evans, Steve Garvey, Tommy John, Don Mattingly, Marvin Miller, Thurman Munson, Dale Murphy, Dave Parker, Ted Simmons and Lou Whitaker.
The Yanks lost to the Cardinals, 9-5 today, to drop the spring training record to 5-5-1.
We know that Seve will miss time, and now the Yanks have said that because of the knee surgery and stent put in, that CC will begin the season on the injured list. Remember that once activated, CC has a five-game suspension to serve.
So two of the five starters will NOT be starting the season. As of now, GM Brian Cashman wants to plug from within, meaning no Dallas Keuchel, Gio Gonzalez or Edwin Jackson.
Gonzalez has been rumored to be someone the Yanks might consider, but he’d have to agree to a bullpen move once Severino and CC are ready.
I like Loaisiga, and he shows great potential to step in as a spot starter now, and to replace CC in the rotation in 2020, but he is a raw talent. 5 out of his 7 outs today K’s, but gave up 5 Runs in 2 1/3.
With both Severino and CC out, we are looking at Cessa, German and/or Loaisiga filling those two spots unless the Yanks sign someone.
Loaisiga (Johnny Lasagna) had mixed results today. Good: 5 K in 2 1/3 IP. Bad: 5 runs given up.
Austin Romine had a 3-run HR today, Gleyber Torres 2 hits. Prospect Trey Amburgey had 2 RBI.
Loaisiga (L) 2 1/3 IP, 4 R, 3 H, 2 W, 5 K. Gave up 1 HR
Harvey (BS) 2/3 IP, 1 R, 2 H, 0 W, 1 K.
Chapman 1 IP, 0 R , 1 H, 0 W, 1 K.
Coulombe 1 1/3 IP, 1 R, 2 H, 1 W, 1 K.
Diehl 1 1/3 IP, 1 R, 2 H, 0 W, 2 K.
Coshow 2/3 IP, 2 R, 3 H, 0 W, 0 K. Gave up 1 HR
Reeves 1 2/3 IP, 0 R , 1 H, 0 W, 1 K.
With Seve out until maybe late April, and CC out until about that time, could the Yanks, with their strong bullpen, consider an “opener” for a game or two in April?
Steven Wright of Boston drew an 80 game suspension (and would miss the postseason) for HGH ban. Hmm, why would a knuckleballer need HGH?
Jacoby Ellsbury (the Nowhere Man) is expected to join the Yanks in Tampa around March 17.
Hicks is still recovering from back pain.
The Yanks sent Domingo Acevedo down to Trenton, and sent Trevor Stephan and Brady Lail to minor league camp.
With the baseball HOF votes from writers that are known, Mariano Rivera is still tracking at 100%, meaning he COULD become the first unanimous selection ever. About 45% of the vote is known, and so far Mo is a unanimous choice.
But…. Andy Pettitte is only tracking at 6.5%. To stay ON the ballot, a player must receive 5%.
Why no love for Andy?
256 wins. Granted the ERA is high at 3.85 but being the steroids era and the ballpark he pitched in, his ERA+ is 117, 17% above league average.
He was 19-11 in the postseason. No one pitched more postseason innings (granted it is a different era, Whitey Ford never had wild card games, Division Series, ALCS to go through) but Andy Pettitte was a big game pitcher, going 19-11, 3.81 in the postseason, and was the ALCS MVP in 2001.
He started 44 postseason games. In half of them, he was still pitching in the seventh inning, and allowed 2 runs or less in those games. Half of his starts. In about 1/3 of those postseason starts, he allowed 1 run of fewer. Think about that.
Never-mind Grahame Lloyd, Ramiro Mendoza, Flash Gordon, Mike Stanton or Mariano Rivera or others. Pettitte was still on the mound in that seventh inning.
Per MLB’s Brian Kenny:
A 3x All-Star, 5x WS Champ. Pettitte also pitched in 3 WS that his teams lost (2001 and 2003 Yankees, 2005 Astros).
Yes, there is the allegations of HGH usage which Andy didn’t use all the time, but he admitted to using to get over an injury. A mistake, but if he only used it that once ….
As opposed to people (like Clemens) who it is said, used it ALL the time late in their careers. But Clemens, along with Barry Bonds (another steroids cheat), is running at over 70%. Both Clemens and Bonds are close to that 75% threshold, and Manny Ramirez, who was suspended 2x and caught 3x (he retired after being caught the third time) is also running far above Pettitte, who, as we know was NOT a constant abuser as Clemens, Bonds and Manny appear to be.
One writer and MLB member, who I despise, voted for Bonds, Clemens and Manny, but not for Pettitte.
Sigh. I wonder if he cheated to get HIS job.
Pettitte’s character isn’t a question. Unlike some other guys, Andy is one of the nicest guys you would ever want to meet.
A staple of 5 WS Championship teams. Appeared in 8 WS. It seemed like every time you looked up, you saw Andy pitching a postseason game (and don’t get me started on the HOF qualifications of the Big 3—-Reynolds, Raschi and Lopat who are also overlooked).
If Andy is being given the shaft because of PED and his association with Clemens, then why is he at 6.5% and Clemens at 73.1% (75.00 or over gets you in, no rounding off).
I do want to make a very important point. This isn’t to say that I think Pettitte is or is not a Hall of Famer, just that he should be getting far more consideration than (at present) 6.5% of the vote (under 5% kicks him off the ballot).
But let’s compare Pettitte to some other pitchers. (Names at the end)
MVP. 7 x CYA. 2 X Pitching Triple Crown. 11x All Star. 7x ERA title. 354 wins. 2x WS Champ. Average 162 g. season 17-9 3.12, ERA+ 143. JAWS has 3rd greatest starting pitcher ever. Postseason record 12-8, 3.75. 6x 20 game winner. CLEMENS
Accused of Steroid abuse.
216 wins. 6x All-star, 3X WS champ. WS MVP, NLCS MVP. 162 game ave. 15-10, 3.46,ERA+ 127. 3x CYA runnerup. 11-2, 2.23 in the postseason. Won 20 games 3x. Considered 27th best starting pitcher ever. SCHILLING, whose politics tick off some people.
270 wins. Average year 17-10, 3.68, ERA+ 123. 5x All Star, never won a WS title. 1x 20 game winner. Postseason record of 7-8, 3.42. MUSSINA 29th JAWS
3x All-star, 5x WS champ. 256 wins. Average 162 game yr. 17-10, 3.85, ERA+ 117.Postseason record 19-11, 3.81. 2x 20 game winner. Jaws ranking #90. PETTITTE.
ACTIVE. CC 162 g average 16-10, 3.70, ERA+ 117. CYA,. 6x AS, 1x WS champ. 246 wins. Jaws has at #71 all time. CC. Postseason 10-7, 4.31, JAWS #71
243 wins. 10 x all star, 1 ERA Title. 6x 20 game winner. 162 g. ave. 18-10, 2.89, ERA+ 123. Jaws ranking #42 MARICHAL. Postseason 0-1, 1.50 (just two games).
254 wins. Average year 16-12, 3.90. 5x AS, 3x WS champ. WS MVP. Average year 16-12, 3.90, ERA+ 105.Postseason 7-4, 3.80. Jaws #163. Yup, you read that right. 163. Jack Morris.
#4 above is Pettitte.
I am not saying Andy deserves the HOF. I am saying that the 6.5% he is getting right now, which leaves him in danger of being left off the ballot, is far too low. He has numbers comparable to people already in the HOF, or those seriously being considered.
If it is the admission to limited usage of PEDS, then why the support for Clemens, who is rumored to be a constant user late in his career?
I don’t get it.
Now there is no I in TEAM, but … the greatest team I ever saw in my lifetime was the 1998 Yankees, who it seems will have only 3 HOF from that team and one is manager Joe Torre. The others, Mo and Jeter. (Yes, Tim Raines is in, but for deeds he did other than with the Yankees, for he was at the end of his career as a platoon OF in 1998 with the Yanks and I am not considering him since he was a part-timer in 1998.)
But other than Mo, Jeter (next yr. first year on ballot) and Torre:
Posada 3.8% first yr., off the ballot.
Tino 1.0% first yr., off the ballot.
Pettitte currently running at 6.5%
Bernie Williams 9.6 then 3.3%. Only on ballot 2 years.
O’Neill 2.2% One and done.
Wells 0.9% (239 career wins, 10-5, 3.17 postseason) 3x AS, 2X WS. ERA+ 108. One and done.
Cone 5x AS, 5 WS champs, 8-3. 3.80 postseason, 194 career wins, ERA+ 121. 3.9% one and done
So one of the greatest teams EVER has Posada, Tino, Bernie, O’Neill, David Wells, David Cone and now possibly Andy Pettitte where EACH of them may be off the HOF ballot in two years or less. This from a team that is one of only four teams ever to win three consecutive WS titles.
The only HOF are RIvera, Jeter, and the manager, Torre? (see what I said about Raines above).
Ok. This team won 3 in a row, 1998-2000.
The 1936-1939 Yankees have DiMaggio, Gehrig, Gomez, Ruffing, Lazzeri/Gordon (Gordon replaced Lazzeri in 1938). Dickey and McCarthy.
The 1949-1953 Yankees have Stengel, Yogi, Ford, Mantle, DiMaggio, Berra, Rizzuto, Mize (at the end of his career, part-timer). See above about Reynolds, Raschi and Lopat.
The 1972-1974 A’s have Hunter, Jackson, manager Dick Williams, Rollie Fingers. Guys like Bando, Campaneris, Rudi, Blue and Holtzman in the good but not HOF camp.
The 1927-1928 Yanks only won two in a row, but have Gehrig, Lazzeri, Hoyt, Pennock, Huggins, Combs and Ruth.
But the 1998 Yanks only have Mo, Jeter and Torre? Really?
Ok, on to the current…
Bill Madden of the NY Daily News states that along with Robertson, Gray was the one who screwed many Yankees’ employees out of postseason shares, another reason they would like him gone.
Rumors are that the Yanks could be more enamored with Nolan Arenado than with Manny Machado. Arenado is a free agent after 2019, and appears to be going to arbitration. He wants $30MM, the Rox offer is $24MM. Now say the Rox will move him b/c they fear getting nothing for him.
If the Yanks agree with Arenado (who has won the Gold Glove each of his six years in the majors, along with a doubles title, 2 RBI titles, 3 HR titles, 2 total bases titles) to a contract extension and Arenado then does NOT hit the free agent market after 2019, could he then join ex-Rockies teammates LeMahieu, Tulo and Ottavino? Let’s say the Yanks give up Andujar, a minor league pitching prospect (Cessa or Adams, I want to keep Loaisiga and King) and Ellsbury.
You give up Ellsbury in order to have the Rox p/u a little of his salary in return for how much you have to pay Arenado.
Even if that little is 1/3 ($7MM) that helps.
Also, by getting rid of Ellsbury, you clear Clint Frazier to platoon with Brett Gardner in LF.
The NY Post reports that if Troy Tulowitzki proves himself capable, and even if the Yanks do land Manny Machado, that Tulo would be at SS (and what happens when Didi comes back?) and that Machado would be at 3B (meaning what happens with Andujar?)
Would Andujar move to 1B (meaning what happens to Voit and Bird?) or would he DH (meaning Stanton to LF and Gardner joins Ellsbury as backup outfielders, with Clint Frazier apparently headed to AAA since Frazier missed most of last year with an injury.)
Now I’ve also heard that if Tulo is the SS, and they land Machado and Machado is at 3B, that Andujar could be traded for a starter (Corey Kluber?). But with a rotation currently set as Severino, Paxton, Tanaka, Happ and CC, who would go? And remember, Sonny Gray is still on this team as of now, too.
From the NY Post and Joel Sherman (who also is with the MLB Network):
The Yankees reached an agreement with Tulowitzki with the plan, if healthy, to play him at shortstop even if they end up signing Manny Machado…
Tulowitzki had looked so good in a workout — athletic and lively in the Yankees’ estimation — about half the major league teams were looking to sign him for the low-risk, high-reward possibilities.
That Tulowitzki picked the Yankees without the assurance of 500-plus plate appearances exemplifies just how motivated he is to play for them. Tulowitzki wore No. 2 with the Rockies and Blue Jays as an homage to his idol, Derek Jeter, and — at 34 — decided if not now, when would he ever be a Yankee?
Both ex-Toronto Manager John Gibbons and MLB Network’s Dan O’Dowd said they believe Tulowitzki is healthy now. Their concerns were if he could maintain his health and how quickly and to what level his offense would return. As far as defense, both said they thought it would still be special. Gibbons said Tulowitzki took infield during batting practice while the Blue Jays were in Oakland in the second half and “he looked great. I have no doubt about his defense if he is healthy.
As far as offense, O’Dowd said because Tulowitzki’s power is to right-center, Yankee Stadium plays to his strengths.
“It is as good a move as you can make,” Gibbons said of the Yankees’ signing of Tulowitzki. “You have almost nothing to lose and if he stays healthy, you have one of the best shortstops of all time.”
Stay tuned. What happens with the infield is bound to be interesting.
In a game that ended around 3:30 AM Eastern Time, the Dodgers won the longest WS game in history, 3-2 in 18 innings, on a Max Muncy walkoff HR off of Nathan Eovaldi to avoid an 0-3 deficit in games. Boston leads two games to one.
With the game going so long, teams will have to decide who starts Game 4 (see below), and players could be exhausted. Eovaldi threw 97 pitches of relief in Game 3.
Joc Pederson homered for the Dodgers in the third to put them up 1-0.
In the sixth, Manny Machado hit what he thought was a HR, showboated, and wound up with a long single instead of a double. So far this postseason, there is a lot NOT to like about a team potentially signing him as a free agent. So much talent, too many headaches. If the Yanks sign him, could they be getting another A-Rod, another person with so much talent and so many headaches?
Funny how Manny adores A-Rod, A-Rod is pushing for Machado and A-Rod despite his TV connections, is still a Yankees’ advisor. You wonder if A-Rod will bring Machado, and all his talent, but also all his problems, to the Bronx.
A-Rod redux. And just like A-Rod, a guy who wants to play one position, but is forced into another (although, with Didi’s injury, Machado may get to play the position he desires, at least temporarily, but then what? Where does Andujar go if Machado does wind up a Yankee?)
Dodgers’ starter Walker Buehler was brilliant.
But in the bottom of the eighth, Jackie Bradley tied it with a HR off of Kenley Jansen.
Cody Bellinger of the Dodgers pulled a rock, getting picked off of first in the bottom of the ninth. In the top of the tenth, he made up for it by throwing out a runner at the plate for an inning-ending DP.
Boston scored in the top of the 13th, but left the bases loaded. LA came back to tie it up with two out in the bottom of the 13th on an error, setting the stage for Muncy’s walkoff HR in the bottom of the 18th. Muncy had just missed winning it with a walkoff HR in the bottom of the 15th, as his long drive was just foul.
Wood the winner, Eovaldi the loser. As the NY Post’s Joel Sherman reports, the Dodgers didn’t use Rich Hill, and have him to start Game 4, but Boston used Price in relief, used up Eovaldi, and didn’t even use Drew Pomeranz who now may be forced to start Game 4. Who starts?
The Hank Aaron awards for league’s best hitters went to Christian Yelich of the Brewers and Boston’s J.D. Martinez.
And if you want a good chuckle, agent Scott Bora$$ says that Jacoby Ellsbury will be ready to go for the Yanks in 2019 spring training. What else did you expect Bora$$ to say? The guy is great at fleecing owners.