Yankees

Stupid Stuff

Todd Frazier says he grew up a “baseball fan” not rooting for a particular team, but rooting for one player- Paul O’Neill. To that end, he has worn the number 21 on both of his previous teams. (Sidebar, he is from Toms River, NJ, decent chance baseball fan equals Phillies fan, but that’s just a guess.) When he got to the Yankees, he was given the number 29, but said he was going to have a talk with O’Neill about wearing 21 when the Yankees returned home. Now that apparently won’t happen and he will stick to 29, after talking to some “guys”.

This is remarkably dumb. He should wear 21. In fact he is probably the perfect person to wear 21. Paul O’Neill should stop this stupidity and ask for Frazier to wear 21. It’s been SIXTEEN years since O’Neill played and the Yankees have tried once, and only once, to assign 21 to another player. That didn’t go well, but its long past time. And remember, the Yankees had a plaque ceremony for O’Neill a few years ago and didn’t retire the number.

The Yankees have retired way too many numbers. I’ve written about this before, coming up with the “great, but not great enough” category after Andy Pettitte retired for the first time in 2011. Basically, players who are not Hall of Famers get their number placed out of circulation for the same number of years as they played with the Yankees.

Unfortunately, the Yankees recently went the opposite way and retired Posada, Pettitte, and Bernie’s numbers along with the three no-brainers, Jeter, Rivera, and Torre. And that is despite the whole plaque part of the equation. That’s a wonderful compromise for the great, but not great enoughs. Give them a plaque and a ceremony, hold the number out of circulation for awhile, but stop this stupidity. Someone should wear 21 again and soon. The question is, who?

Didn’t Notice-UPDATED

Fascinating piece on Si.com today about how the Yankees are deliberately throwing the least amount of fastballs in the big leagues this year. The basic premise is that fastballs, even really good ones, get hit more than other pitches, and the data backs that up.

Here’s the thing that really shocked me, the Yankees are only throwing fastballs about 43% of the time. If you had asked me to guess their fastball usage. I probably would have said at least 60% and probably closer to 70%. I simply hadn’t noticed this change. It’s a good article, and well worth your time. I’m going to start paying more attention to the little things!
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Keep an eye on the roster moves the Yankees make today because they will tell us a lot about how the new players will be used, and how the rotation will be shaped going forward.

With the addition of three big leaguers and the Subtraction of one from the roster, two moves have to be made. I would assume the Yankees will send a pitcher and a hitter to the minors as that would leave them with the same roster composition as before the trade. The hitter will almost certainly be either Choi or Cooper. If it is Choi, you might see the Yankees use Frazier at first against RHP and move him to third against LHP with Cooper moving to first. Headley has a .534 OPS abs LHP, so this would make sense. If Choi stays and Cooper goes, then I would assume Frazier is pretty much the everyday firstbaseman.

As for the pitchers it will almost certainly be Cessa or Smith sent down. The Yankees chose to keep Smith around and demote Mitchell yesterday, so maybe they are seriously considering letting him replace Pineda. Cessa didn’t look very good yesterday, so the Yankees might want to try something new.

UPDATE- I wasn’t thinking about the 40-man roster and the need to clear space on that too. So the Yankees DFA’ed Choi and Rob Refsnyder while sending Chason Shreve to the minors.

Choi is not a shock at all. Refsnyder shows how crowded the 40-man is becoming and reinforces why trading Clarkin is probably for the best. I’m surprised that Shreve was the guy to get sent down because he has been pretty good this year. But as I think more about it, Cessa or Smith are the only “long” guys in the pen, so the Yankees probably want them both around for now.

Symmetry

The Yankees have played 91 games and as Jack Curry pointed out, look what happens if you slice the season into thirds with the extra game in the middle

1/3- 21 and 9
2/3- 17 and 14
3/3- 9 and 21

If you take the middle part, 17-14, that equals an 88-win pace over 162 games. That’s a tad higher than I thought they were capable of in March, but only by a few wins. For the whole season, they are on pace for about 84-wins, right about where I thought they would end up. The key to me is that 21-9 seems more of an outlier than the other 61 games. I hope the front office agrees.

Split Decision

Considering how the series started, escaping Boston with a split of the series seems a victory. Granted, expectations are low, before yesterday/today the Yankees had gone over a month since they last won consecutive games.

To me the biggest takeaway from this series is the quality of the starting pitching. Montgomery bended, but did not break. Severino was great. Ditto that for Sabathia and Tanaka. If they can collectively keep doing that, the Yankees will be a force in the second half, no matter who the fifth starter is.

And while Tanaka lost tonight, you can’t emphasize enough how big that start was. 7-2/3rd innings was exactly what a depleted bullpen needed. With tomorrow’s starter still TBD! the Yankees are going to need a full bullpen, and they should have close to that when they land in Minnesota.

2-2 coming out of Boston and seven games left on the road trip. This week will determine a lot.

Ugh

That’s all I have to say about that.

Pineda’s Done

Michael Pineda has a partial UCL tear and is headed to the DL. The recommendation is Tommy John surgery, but considering he is a free agent after this year, I imagine he will seek out a second or third opinion to try and avoid that. Either way, this almost certainly marks the end of his Yankee career. He wil, finish it with a record of 31-31 and an ERA of 4.16. He was brilliant at times and terrible at others. Considring what happened to Jesus Montero after he left NY, the Yankees won the trade, but it doesn’t really feel like it.

In the long run, this injury could actually help the Yankees. I don’t think there was any way they would have brought Pineda back next year, so now they get a jump on filling his spot in the 2018 rotation. For now, Brian Mitchell is getting the ball, but I suspect the Yankees will promote Chance Adams in the near future.
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The Yankees also announced that Greg Bird has two options. First is another cortisone shot, the second is surgery. If he has surgery, it is a 6 to 8 week recovery, so he could be back theoretically in September. The Yankees will bring Garret Cooper up to play first this weekend. Stay tuned.
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The Yankees are saying they will be “careful buyers” at the trade deadline, but I think this road trip will actually be the deciding factor. Eleven games in ten days with a cross-country trip included. This could go really badly and if they limo back home off of a 4-7 or 3-8 trip, o would expect that they quickly become “careful sellers”.
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Give the Red Isc credit for owning up to a huge mistake today. They DFA’ed Pablo Sandoval, meaning they are going to pay him about $50-million for nothing over the next few years. I suspect the Yankees will reach a similar point with Jacoby Ellsbury in the future, and I hope they have the guts to do the same thing.

We Have A Trade

According to Ken Rosenthal, the Yankees have traded Tyler Webb to the Brewers and according to Jon Herman the player they are getting in return is Garrett Cooper.

Cooper is a 26-year old righty who has hit .305 in his Minor league career with plenty of power. He is tearing up AAA this year at .366/.428/.652 but those numbers need to be viewed carefully because of his age, the fact that the PCL is an offense-heavy league, and that he plays his home games in Colorado.

And here’s the catch, Cooper is primarily a first baseman, so this doesn’t bode well for Greg Bird. The Yankees wouldn’t make a trade for a firstbaseman at the expense of a bullpen piece at this point unless they thought Bird was going to be hurt for the year. Bird went to the doctor Monday, but the Yankees have not announced anything about the visit. This makes me think the visit didn’t go well.

On the plus side. Cooper has shown a lot in the minors, so he deserved a shot in the bigs. The Brewers have Thames and Aguilar, so they weren’t going to give him one. The Yankees clearly needed help at first and got it. Cooper should help, but despite the gaudy stats, he won’t help as much as a healthy Bird could have.

Who Ordered The Code Red?

If there is anyone among the New York baseball writers who could speak to the ghost of George Steinbrenner, Bill Madden would be the guy. He always had a close relationship with the boss and his piece this morning really makes you wonder if he can communicate beyond the grave. Consider this section about Greg Bird.

Much as the Torres and Fowler injuries were downright heartbreaking, the Bird mystery ankle bruise has become merely annoying. Despite numerous tests that have turned up nothing, Bird continues to insist the ankle is still sore — too sore to allow him to play. The Yankee brass has become exasperated with Bird, who’s never been able to stay healthy, and it has gotten to the point where if he doesn’t get back on the field after the All-Star break, they are prepared to move him over the winter.

So The Yankees are threatening to trade Bird if he doesn’t start to play by next week? That’s interesting, almost as interesting as these quotes:

“You really have to wonder what’s with this guy,” a Yankee insider complained to me earlier this week. “You’d think with Judge and Sanchez, the guys he came up through the system with, doing so well up here he’d want to be a part of this. Apparently not.”

That’s classic George reasoning there. The guy is obviously faking the injury and doesn’t want to play hurt, so the Yankees should send him packing.

But assuming Madden can’t communicate with the dead, who would have made these quotes? O can’t prove it, but I would bet a fairly sizable amount that it is Randy Levine.

Levine likes to talk tough and channel George. He was the guy in February who ripped Delin Betances after beating him in arbitration. Does this seem any different?

It’s also stupid and somewhat ironic. It was in 2015 that Mark Teixeira’s broken leg was not diasgnosed by doctors for weeks. In the interim, the Yankees called up Greg Bird and he dazzled them with 11 homers over the final 46 games of the season. He also got one of the three hits the Yankees managed in their Wild Card game loss to Houston. But 2016 was wiped out by shoulder surgery and 2017 has been a disaster. Bird is still just 24 and giving up on him because of injuries at this point is nuts.

Luckily, Hal listens to Cashman on personnel issues and not Levine. Randy would do well to remember that the Boss’ bombastic ways and impetuous decisions didn’t win any titles after an initial flurry of success. It was his suspension in 1990 and the rebuilding of the farm system under Gene Michael that led to the dynasty teams of the 1990’s.

Next Stop: Trade Market

I didn’t think the Yankees really thought of Ji-Man Choi as a legitimate option at first, but he just became the starter. After today’s game, the Yankees DFA’ed Chris Carter for the second time in twelve days and recalled Choi.

I suspect the ball Carter dropped in the seventh inning sealed his fate. It was an easy play to make, a throw from Didi, but Carter couldn’t handle it and it almost cost the Yankees. If you aren’t going to hit, you have to at least add value with your glove, and Carter wasn’t doing that.

In steps Choi who has a reputation as a good fielder and contact hitter without much power. He appeared in 54 games for Anaheim last year and hit .170 with 5 homers, so don’t expect miracles.

The Yankees will see if Choi can contribute, but unless some good news comes about Tyler Austin or Greg Bird, I expect them to scour the trade market.

Eric Hosmer’s chances of ending up in the Bronx just got bigger.

Meet the New Guy at First….

Guess what, Chris Carter is back! How did this happen? Well Tyler Austin was apparently dealing with a hamstring injury when they promoted him and it has turned into a bigger thing. He is going to be out awhile.

Greg Bird isn’t doing so hot, so he is going on the 60-day DL. That sounds worse than it is because he has been on the DL since the start of May, and that means he can be activated whenever he is healthy, or if he is healthy again this year.

That left the Yankees with a couple of choices. They could keep sending Romine out there, but that leaves them exposed at catcher. They could try Refsnyder there, but he isn’t hitting and hasn’t looked great at first. So, Carter gets the call because he is already getting paid, so the Yankees will see if a week off makes a difference.

The interesting thing is the Yankees made another move, sending Andujar down and promoting Dustin Fowler. Andujar had a great debut, you really couldn’t ask for more, but the Yankees wisely want him to get reps at third, and they are not benching Headley.

And that brings us to Fowler, another top prospect who is getting a shot. Fowler is 22, a lefty, and is hitting .293/.329/.542 in AAA. He has 13 steals, so he has speed. He’s spent most of his time in center, but he can play right and left.

His promotion is interesting because they could have recalled Mason Williams with the injury to Austin, but instead they are DFA’ing him to clear a roster spot. Is Fowler being showcased for a possible trade, or are the Yankees looking at him as a possible replacement for Gardner or Ellsbury? Time will tell.