Thursday, December 31, 2015

2016 New Year's resolutions for Yankees players, coaches and management

Last season, I wrote that the New York Yankees’ 2015 New Year’s resolution should be to stay the course with their future roster planning and by most measures they did just that. For the organization, I would recommend much of the same for 2016. The transition is in full effect, but will continue to envelop the next couple of seasons to be seen through to fruition.

With that in mind – that’s not much of a blog post – I’ll take a stab at what individuals within the organization should resolve to accomplish in 2016.

Thursday, December 10, 2015

Shed no tears for Justin Wilson…or any setup man for that matter

The New York Yankees are certainly not losing sleep after trading left-handed reliever Justin Wilson to the Detroit Tigers for two minor league starters, Luis Cessa and Chad Green, and nor should you.

Justin Wilson
Photo credit: Arturo Pardavila III
A bullpen is important, no doubt, especially in this day when teams value dominance at the back end of games. Wilson, 28, is not dominant. He’s pretty good, but he’s also a nightmare waiting to happen.

Wilson owns a career 8.7 K/9 (it’s been over 9.1 per nine the last two seasons) and it is good that he does because his walk rate (3.7 per nine) necessitates it. In my view, this is a player who can have a great season, but can also look pretty bad. His career suggests as much as well.

Tuesday, December 8, 2015

Yankees unsurprisingly quiet at start of Winter Meetings

As the New York Yankees headed to Nashville, Tennessee, they proclaimed to be invested in speaking with other teams about trades, but lay on the periphery of the free agent market. The club has been vocal about their roster – and budget – being filled, making the first day of quiet around the club unsurprising.

Rumors of Brett Gardner and/or Andrew Miller being on the move have begun to subside. It seems that Gardner’s value is not as high as it has been in the past, while Miller’s value might be better on the club versus off it. The Yankees will continue to listen on all players, but expecting them to make a big trade seems less likely if one of those two players is not involved. The club has often professed they do not have an interest in trading their top prospects, especially those close to helping on the major league level.

Friday, December 4, 2015

Yankees' strategy for Winter Meetings differs from their fans' desires

The chasm is closing, but some fans still want it all, and want it now.


Hal Steinbrenner
Photo credit: Jeffrey Putman via Flickr
When the New York Yankees vowed to try and drop below the luxury tax threshold in 2012, many fans couldn’t understand how such a valuable franchise could think about penny-pinching where it concerned building their roster.

Gone are the days of the old patriarch of spending, George Steinbrenner III. His son Hal believed then, and trusts now, that the Yankees do not need to maintain a $200 million payroll to win. Yet, that’s exactly where they still stand because of the free agent splurge two offseasons ago that brought Carlos Beltran, Jacoby Ellsbury, Brian McCann and Masahiro Tanaka aboard combined with the massive contracts of Alex Rodriguez, CC Sabathia and Mark Teixeira that were already on the books.

Friday, November 20, 2015

Could Yankees trade BOTH Gardner and Miller?

We’ve heard it over and over; the New York Yankees will not be active in the high-priced free agent market in a season in which big money is not coming off the books.

Brett Gardner
Photo: Keith Allison
Instead, they will follow a strategy which got aggressive last season in which the club traded from surplus and from their major league roster to acquire MLB-ready players tagged with the “upside” label. The effort paid off in 2015 with pitcher Nathan Eovaldi and shortstop Didi Gregorius playing important roles to the Yankees wild card berth.

This offseason began much the same way as last, with general manager Brian Cashman pulling off a trade of his backup catcher (John Ryan Murphy), this time nabbing a promising 26-year-old outfielder in Aaron Hicks. Cashman immediately touted Hicks as a potential full-time player (though he never said in 2016) and just as quickly the rumor mill surrounding Brett Gardner heated up.

The team also has Jacoby Ellsbury in the outfield, meaning two players with much the same style of play. Trading Gardner is the more reasonable option for the Yankees because he has three seasons and $38 million left on his deal. Meanwhile, Ellsbury is under contract for five more seasons with close to $110 million left on his pact.

So far, Gardner has been linked to the Seattle Mariners (who seem to be out now after trading for Leonys Martin) and the Cleveland Indians. The Yankees want another starter and the Indians have a surplus; namely Carlos Carrasco and Danny Salazar. Each pitcher would necessitate more from the Yankees, but both pitchers fit the Yankees' desires for hard-throwing young pitchers. Most recently, Gardner was connected to the Chicago Cubs for infielder Starlin Castro according to New York Daily News reporter Mark Feinsand.

Now, if the Yanks cannot find a suitable partner for Gardner, the rumor mill has also been hot around the team's 2015 closer and the American League Reliever of the Year, Andrew Miller. Miller has three years and $27 million left on the deal he signed last offseason. The Yankees, seeing what the San Diego Padres received for closer Craig Kimbrel, might pull the trigger on a deal that nets the club some prospects to fill any perceived voids in the system.

The Yankees have the luxury of being able to move BOTH Gardner and Miller because of what’s currently on the roster and in the farm system, along with who they might receive in return.

Friday, November 13, 2015

If Yankees add outside starter, bullpen might benefit from excess arms

The New York Yankees are reportedly in the market for a starting pitcher, yet they have seven hurlers on their 40-man roster who made at least 11 starts for the club in 2015. If a starter is added to the mix this offseason, we might expect one of those seven pitchers is traded. We can speculate as to who that might be, but it’s also worth trying to determine who misses the cut to stick in the rotation (assuming good health).

The Yankees rotation is one with some questions marks, so adding depth or getting extravagant by signing an ace-type starter makes sense. But in order to do so, the Yankees will have to make some internal adjustments.

First, here is a chart showing each of the starters currently on the roster along with the number of starts, innings pitched in 2015 and 2016 salary (* = projected salary provided by MLB Trade Rumors).


Thursday, November 12, 2015

Yankees strike another November trade, fueling rumor mill

The New York Yankees swung two deals in the matter of an hour Wednesday; the second season in a row the Yankees made a trade in early November. First, the club spun infielder Jose Pirela for 20-year-old starting pitcher Ronald Herrera from the San Diego Padres, and then moved catcher John Ryan Murphy to the Minnesota Twins for switch-hitting outfielder Aaron Hicks.

Trading Pirela opened a spot on the 40-man roster for the Yankees and netted the club a power arm for minor league depth. Moving Murphy was a bit of surprise with many, myself included, figuring Gary Sanchez was going to be packing his bags. However, the Yankees might view Sanchez more as a long-term solution than Murphy and Hicks fits the outfield quite nicely.

For now Hicks slots in as the fourth outfielder, one able to play strong defense from any of the three positions, behind Brett Gardner, Jacoby Ellsbury and Carlos Beltran. Hicks owns a .808 OPS (261 PA) against left-handed pitching in his young career. The Yankees needed to address the fourth outfielder spot from the right side of the plate with the starters all lefties, or better offensively as a lefty in Beltran’s case.

As the ink was drying on the deal, there was immense speculation that the Yankees trade for Hicks meant Gardner undoubtedly had seen his last days in pinstripes (mind you, Gardner trade rumors were already in full tilt). The chatter escalated with Brian Cashman’s comment that the Yankees see the 26-year-old Hicks as a starter.

Friday, November 6, 2015

Has Carlos Beltran been worth the financial risk to Yankees?

After the 2013 season, the New York Yankees went on a contract binge like few others have in Major League Baseball, spending more than $500 million in guaranteed salaries.

Carlos Beltran
Photo credit: Keith Allison via WikiCommons
The haul included Masahiro Tanaka’s posting fee and contract value ($175 million), Jacoby Ellsbury's seven-year deal ($153 million), Brian McCann's five-year pact ($85 million) and Carlos Beltran's three-year contract ($45 million). Beltran’s deal was the least expensive of the four large guarantees, but viewed by some as one of the riskier investments based mostly on the veteran outfielder’s age.

Beltran entered the 2014 campaign in his age-37 season, coming off a fine year with the St. Louis Cardinals. He’d lost a couple of steps in the outfield, but the Yankees felt he wouldn’t be overly exposed in right field. What excited the Yankees was having a switch-hitter with power at their disposal. Beltran was considered a professional batter and his contract was believed to be one which would be fulfilled by his performance in the field.

Has it been?

Monday, November 2, 2015

Yankees' roster requires more demolition before building new foundation

The New York Yankees have been planning their offseason agenda since being eliminated from the 2015 postseason that lasted all of one game. But, with the Kansas City Royals’ World Series championship run all wrapped up, the Yanks’ hot stove has officially been lit. For the Yankees, any solidifying of their foundation still requires some demolition.

There are very few vacancies coming for the Yankees; Chris Capuano, Stephen Drew and Chris Young are free agents, while the Yankees have club options on Brendan Ryan (he also has a player option) and Andrew Bailey. Essentially, the Yankees have to decide on their second baseman for 2016 and beyond, whether or not to improve their rotation and/or bullpen and find a right-handed bat to complement a lefty-heavy offense.

Thursday, October 29, 2015

Yankees’ choice of Miller leads to top reliever award

The New York Yankees chose to let David Robertson walk last offseason, instead opening their wallets for Andrew Miller. The tall, left-handed Miller did a fantastic job for the Yanks and was named the 2015 Mariano Rivera American League Reliever of the Year Wednesday (MLB.com).

Andrew Miller
Photo credit: Arturo Pardavilla III via Flickr
The MLB-sanctioned award is voted on by a panel of eight former MLB relievers including Rivera. The National League award (named for former San Diego Padres great Trevor Hoffman) went to former Yankee Mark Melancon, now the closer for the Pittsburgh Pirates.

Kansas City Royals’ reliever Wade Davis, who arguably had a better statistical season than Miller, was second in the voting with the Baltimore Orioles’ Zach Britton placing third.

Miller put up great numbers in his inaugural season with the Yanks. In 61.2 innings across 60 games, Miller converted 36 of 38 save chances. Miller racked up 100 strikeouts (14.6 K/9 ratio) with a 1.90 ERA (2.16 FIP) and batters hit just .149 against him.

At the onset of the signing, the Yankees were not certain as to Miller’s role, other than he would be an option for manager Joe Girardi at the end of games. Even as the Yankees headed north from spring training, Girardi had yet to anoint a closer. There was speculation that Girardi might go so far as to mix and match based on the scenario in front of him on a game to game basis.

Friday, October 23, 2015

Has Brian McCann fulfilled Yankees’ expectations?

After the New York Yankees turned to a defense-first offering behind the plate for the 2013 season, they decided it was best to sign an offensive catcher who could still make a difference behind the dish. The Yanks inked Brian McCann, then a longtime backstop for the Atlanta Braves, to a five-year, $85 million contract before the 2014 season.

Brian McCann
Photo Credit: Keith Allison via Flickr
Like many players before him in their first season in the Bronx, McCann took a bit of time to get used to his surroundings. He also found it more difficult to learn a new pitching staff than he expected and his offense seemed to pay the price for it. Until September 2014, McCann was mostly unproductive with a bat in his hands, but over the season’s final month he unleashed an impressive showing (eight home runs and 18 RBIs).

McCann’s final 2014 numbers were decent – .232/.286/.406 with 23 home runs and 75 RBIs. But, mostly the Yankees were pleased with his work behind the plate in 2014 (11.4 runs above average via pitch-framing metrics via StatCorner and 37 percent caught stealing rate), and optimistic that his offensive prowess would return after what he showed at the end of the season. Expectations in 2015 were higher for McCann from an offensive standpoint, while consistency was anticipated while donning the tools of ignorance.

Happy Birthday BYB Hub!

I want to send out birthday wishes to the BYB Hub, a collection of baseball blog sites, of which Yankees Unscripted is a part of, developed by Bleeding Yankee Blue founder Robert Casey.

The main purpose of the BYB Hub is to foster relationships between the individual blog sites and to help cross promote them. We all want to be noticed and Robert had a vision of how to accomplish that.

Many of the sites are focused on the New York Yankees, but all baseball sites are welcome to request membership. If you run your own baseball site and want to be a part of the BYB Hub, you can reach Robert via Twitter @BleednYankeeBlu or me in the comments below.

Finally, I’d like to express my personal thanks to Robert for inviting me to be a part of the BYB Hub at the onset of its formation. It’s been a benefit to the growth of my site and I’ve enjoyed the interactions with the other baseball bloggers in the group.

Christopher Carelli is a freelance baseball writer. Besides his work here, Christopher is a featured Yankees writer for SNY.tv. His baseball commentary has also been published on Yahoo Sports and linked multiple times on MLB Trade Rumors’ Baseball Blogs Weigh In. He is a member of the Internet Baseball Writers Association of America, the Baseball Bloggers Alliance and the BYB Hub.



Wednesday, October 21, 2015

Yankees' Tanaka has surgery; no not the dreaded one

Most everyone who follows the New York Yankees waited all season for Masahiro Tanaka to walk off the mound holding his right elbow, the partial tear finally succumbing to the unnatural torque of throwing a baseball. It never happened.

Masahiro Tanaka
Photo credit: Keith Allison via Flickr
However, the partial tear was not the only issue with the elbow; Tanaka still had surgery on his most fragile body part, having a long-existing bone spur removed Tuesday. Tanaka will endure a six-week strengthening program and should be ready for spring training. The Yankees hold out hope that this is not the beginning of something more.

According to Dr. Michael Hausman, Chief of Hand and Elbow Surgery at Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai, the spurs can form or grow as an indirect result of having partial tearing of the ulnar collateral ligament (Daniel Barbarisi - The Wall Street Journal). While the tear may hold up, there is a chance of more spurs forming along the way, and with that the potential need to have more cleaning done to the elbow.

Monday, October 19, 2015

Another year, another Yankees hitting coach fired

For the second straight offseason, the New York Yankees will be looking to fill the role of hitting coach after firing Jeff Pentland, who served in the role for just one season. The 69-year-old Pentland was reportedly told of his departure last week according to the George King III of The New York Post.

The Yankees also released Gary Tuck from his duties as bullpen coach and catching instructor. King mentions Mike Harkey as a potential replacement for Tuck in the bullpen spot. Harkey, who was recently fired by the Arizona Diamondbacks as their pitching coach, was the Yankees bullpen coach from 2008 to 2013 and is good friend of Yankees manager Joe Girardi.

Pentland explained to The Post that he was told that there was a chance that this was a one-season gig from the start, so the firing was not a surprise to him. The lack of shock is especially true considering the massive overall team slump the offense suffered from August through the wild card game.

Thursday, October 15, 2015

Is Ellsbury’s contract already an albatross for Yankees?

When the New York Yankees made the reactionary deal to sign Jacoby Ellsbury after being shunned by Robinson Cano, they hoped the center fielder’s up-front performance would compensate for the inevitable downturn at the end of the deal. So far, the Yankees have been completely wrong and the chances for a turnaround seem only slightly plausible.

Jacoby Ellsbury
Photo credit: Keith Allison via Flickr
Baseball clubs make some assumptions on long-term contracts, and Ellsbury’s is no different. A player in his early 30s, coming off an impressive season, and a track record of production would usually infer a happy beginning to the union. Teams are willing to eat the risk at the backend of the deal for what they feel is a safe bet up front.

Ellsbury’s seven-year, $153 million contract per Cot's Baseball Contracts was immediately met with questions because of his proclivity for injury and the deal would take him through his age-36 season. Many could not see Ellsbury, whose game is predicated on running, being at the top of his game in the final two or three years of the contract.

Where does Ellsbury stand on performance value compared with the actual costs of this contract two years into his deal?

Tuesday, October 13, 2015

The Yankees 2015 MVP is…

The New York Yankees reached the 2015 postseason on the backs of several players, but only one name can be labeled the club’s most valuable player. I believe there are six candidates for the honor, but one clear cut winner. Let’s review the players in alphabetical order along with their individual cases, and then my argument for the best choice.

Carlos Beltran


Beltran began the season with a month of baseball that made him look like a washed up player. But, beginning May 1, Beltran was the team’s most consistent hitter.

531 PA, .276/.337/.471, 34 doubles, 19 HR, 67 RBI, 121 OPS+

Beltran showed he can still hit, despite playing an incredibly poor right field.

Dellin Betances


Betances posted superior numbers in his sophomore season, making his mark on 74 games in 2015.

84 IP, 6-4, 9 SV, 4 BS, 14.0 K/9, 4.3 BB/9, 266 ERA+

Those numbers would have been even more impressive, if not for a rocky September when Betances looked like a regular relief pitcher and not one who dominated for much of the season.

Friday, October 9, 2015

Eovaldi's injury furthered Warren's misuse, aided Yankees’ skid

When the New York Yankees lost their wins leader, Nathan Eovaldi, to a season-ending injury on Sept. 5 it was an immediate blow to the club's rotation. Moreover, it can be argued that Eovaldi's injury provoked furthered misuse of Adam Warren, which then aided in the Yankees season-ending skid.

Adam Warren
Photo credit - Keith Allison via Flickr
Eovaldi’s injury hurt both the rotation and the bullpen. Of course, the Yankees lost their most productive starter at the time in Eovaldi. He had been on a tremendous run after mastering his split-finger fastball going 10-2 across 12 starts (73.2 IP) with a 2.93 ERA and a .584 OPS-against, before slumping in two starts leading to the injury.

With Eovaldi out of the picture, the Yankees transitioned Warren back to the rotation after having moved him to the bullpen in late June in an effort to keep his innings down for the rest of the season. The decision was a smart one considering he had thrown less than 80 innings in each of the last two seasons, and showed they valued Warren's future.

Warren’s stint in the pen should have been better served as the Yankees were relying heavily on Justin Wilson, Dellin Betances and Andrew Miller and consequently their usage was reaching extremes. Warren gave Yankees manager Joe Girardi another option for mid to high-leverage innings, but the skipper did not always use him in such a manner.

Tuesday, October 6, 2015

Three keys for Yankees in wild card game

The New York Yankees were not expected to be in the postseason according to many pundits, but here they are in a winner-take-all wild card contest against the upstart Houston Astros. What are the keys for the Yankees to advance to the American League Division Series?

Tanaka matching Keuchel


Masahiro Tanaka was signed to be the pitcher for this exact moment. He is paid an ace’s salary to be successful in the big games. There has not been a bigger MLB game for Tanaka. As far as “biggest game of his career” goes, the same should be said about Dallas Keuchel.

Despite pitching on three days’ rest for the first time in his career, Keuchel is believed to be the exact pitcher the Yankees do not want to deal with Tuesday night. Keuchel has not allowed a run to the Yankees across 16 innings this season, while striking out 21 batters.

If Keuchel is remotely as good as his past performances against the Yankees, it will force Tanaka to be at his best. Tanaka cannot afford to let balls sit in the middle of the plate, especially four-seamers that Astros batters will destroy. If Tanaka gets the feel for his splitter early on and keeps the Astros off balance it will go a long way toward keeping the Yankees close (or dare I say ahead) of Keuchel.

Wednesday, September 30, 2015

How big is tonight’s start for Yankees’ Tanaka?

Suggesting that Game 158 for the New York Yankees is big when the postseason is within grasp, is certainly not an overstep in narrative. But, Masahiro Tanaka’s performance lamented as the be-all and end-all game of the season is pushing the dialogue a bit.

Masahiro Tanaka
Photo credit: Keith Allison via Flickr
Surely, Tanaka’s Wednesday night start against the Boston Red Sox is important for several reasons.

First, the Yankees desperately need a win to get the taste of the playoffs on their lips instead of sniffing it in front of their noses.

Secondly, the Yankees must have Tanaka tuned up for his potential start in the American League Wild Card game.

Third, and in my mind most importantly, Tanaka has to prove he is healthy enough to pitch without abandon. He cannot come into today’s game giving less than 100 percent. If Tanaka cannot go full throttle, he’ll be of no use to the Yankees for the wild card affair.

Thursday, September 24, 2015

Yankees redirect attention to wild card berth

The American League East title might finally be out of reach for the New York Yankees after losing two of three games to the Toronto Blue Jays. This is not to say the Yanks should give up on their quest for the division title, but they might begin to gear up for a winner-take-all play-in game Oct. 6.

The Yankees must still play to win the AL East title, on the slim chance that the Blue Jays continue to play .500 ball the rest of the way (Toronto is 5-5 in their last 10 games). It would take an impressive 9-2 run by the Yankees over their final 11 games, but it is certainly not impossible. The effort to win each game should remain, if only to be playing top-notch baseball when the wild card game arrives.

Saturday, September 19, 2015

Where does Yankees' Greg Bird begin the 2016 season?

The only reason New York Yankees’ first baseman Greg Bird isn’t riding the pine this September is because Mark Teixeira has a busted left leg, and there wasn’t anyone already on the roster that could fill the void. Now Bird is outperforming expectations bringing to light the question of where he begins play in 2016.

How good has Bird been? Let’s extrapolate Bird's numbers through Friday night's game to the same number of plate appearances Teixeira had before going down with his injury.



I understand extrapolation is not an exact science for future performance, but it does give you an idea of the kind of offensive production Bird has provided comparatively speaking to Teixeira’s.

The drop-off is not great, and we’re talking about a player in Teixeira who was arguably the Yankees best offensive force this season before the injury. While there are issues to address (strikeouts in particular) it is easy to see the dilemma of whether Bird starts back in Triple-A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre or grabs a spot on the 25-man roster as the backup first baseman.

Wednesday, September 9, 2015

Postseason hunt becomes more difficult for Yankees

The New York Yankees already had their backs against the wall trying to keep pace with a juggernaut in Toronto, and now the newest wave of injuries will truly test their mettle.

Masahiro Tanaka
Photo credit: Keith Allison via Flickr
After Tuesday night’s disappointing loss to the Baltimore Orioles, the Yankees fell 1 ½ games behind the Blue Jays in the American League East. The Yanks received a stellar pitching performance from Masahiro Tanaka, who hurled eight innings of one-run ball with 10 strikeouts, but to no avail as the offense sputtered in a 2-1 loss. Wednesday, the Yankees will try for the series victory with CC Sabathia on the mound as he returns from the disabled list due to his bum knee.

Then the Yankees have a four-game set with the Blue Jays at Yankee Stadium. The Yanks will have to make a statement, minimally winning three out of four games in my view, in order show Toronto that winning the division will not be easy despite the stacked odds facing the Bombers.

Thursday, September 3, 2015

Would Yankees consider Stephen Drew for 2016?

The New York Yankees showed the upmost in faith in Stephen Drew, mostly because of his glove, but also for that occasional pop he might provide. His batting average languished below the Mendoza-line from the end of the season’s first game until Aug. 30 after two months of dismal offensive production to start the season.

A three-month steady climb, culminated by a huge road trip in which he went 9-for-20 with two doubles and two home runs, has the Yankees reaping consistent benefits from Drew offensively, which brings a big question to light. Will they try to bring Drew back in 2016 for a third go-around with the club?

Let me begin by saying that I’m not lobbying for the Yankees to re-sign Drew next season. I’m thrilled to see him hit because it helps the team, but I firmly believe the Yankees should be happy with what they received for this season and be willing to move on. I’m not convinced Drew has found his 2013 form, nor am I going to assume this streak will go on for the remainder of the season. While he’s had a nice three-month stretch (see tweet below), he also looked pathetic at the plate in the first two months of this season and all of 2014.

Monday, August 31, 2015

Yankees weekend news wrap: Domination expected and delivered

Heading into the weekend series at the Atlanta Braves, the New York Yankees had to feel they had three very winnable games coming against a team in complete rebuild mode. That feeling and getting the job done are two different things, but the Yankees’ bats came alive and carried them to a three-game sweep.

The series finale will be highlighted because of the 21-hit, 20-run rampage, but there were other aspects to the series which indicate the Yankees might be poised for a successful finish to the season.

No Teixeira, No A-Rod, no problem?


Mark Teixeira
Photo credit: Keith Allison via Flickr
Of course this is an exaggeration, because they Yankees do need Mark Teixeira and Alex Rodriguez to be healthy and productive over the final month-plus of the season. But, to score 36 runs in three games without them (A-Rod contributed  a two-run pinch-hit single to Sunday's run-fest), albeit against a poor pitching staff, proves to the rest of the club that they can get the job done without them on occasion.

Further, A-Rod coming off the bench and getting on base both times shows he can be productive as a pinch-hitter. While the Yankees are once again giving A-Rod some reps at first base, unless Teixeira is unable to play, I cannot see Rodriguez playing much there even in the lone series against a National League team (the Mets) in September. Worrying about how A-Rod can contribute in a potential World Series game at a National League park is terribly premature in my opinion.

Thursday, August 27, 2015

Yankees lacking energy during playoff race?

New York Yankees outfielder Brett Gardner told reporters Wednesday that he feels the club is lacking energy of late, more specifically saying the team was “kind of flat” in Tuesday and Wednesday’s defeats at the hands of AL West leading Houston. If there is one thing that makes me want to pull my hair out, it’s professional athletes saying they do not possess drive. I get it for teams with nowhere to go in August and September, but for a team currently holding the top wild card spot in the American League it’s pathetic.

I don’t rant often, but here it goes.

Wednesday, August 26, 2015

Yankees’ stagnant offense puts pressure on fragile rotation

Through most of the first four months of the season, the New York Yankees offense was one of the high-points of the club. They were second in the league in scoring and fairly consistent. The production was typically spread throughout a majority of the lineup; just about everyone helped produce runs at some point. But, once August came around, the offense has been sputtering more than effective and it is putting pressure on a fragile rotation.

Through Tuesday’s 15-1 blowout at the hands of the Houston Astros, the Yankees rank among the worst offensive teams in the league.

Monday, August 10, 2015

Yankees weekend news wrap: Panic in the Bronx?

The New York Yankees had a chance to put some more space between them and the Toronto Blue Jays this past weekend, but unfortunately, all that happened was the Yanks getting completely humbled by their AL East foes in sweeping fashion.

The Bombers came in with a great home record (32-18) while the Blue Jays were a putrid 22-31 outside of Rogers Centre. Both clubs were expected to put up a lot of runs, and other than Saturday’s affair, each game was a pitcher’s duel. The Yanks lost those too, scoring just one run the entire series.

Believe it or not, there are some reasons precluding me (and should prohibit you) from panic.

The pitching held up


Nathan Eovaldi allowed just one run in six-plus innings after a rocky first inning, and Masahiro Tanaka allowed two solo home runs in six innings of work. Even Saturday’s starter, Ivan Nova, pitched well, shutting out the Blue Jays over the first five innings. He allowed a back-breaking grand slam in the sixth inning allowing David Price and company to coast the rest of the way.

Eovaldi and Tanaka (despite the bombs) held an offense in check that leads the majors in runs scored and came into the series on fire. There is something to be said about their performance under the pressure they pitched with.

Thursday, August 6, 2015

Yankees’ Luis Severino has arrived

The New York Yankees put an “untouchable” sign around the neck of 21-year-old Luis Severino, and Wednesday night fans were treated with glimpses as to why.

Luis Severino
Photo credit: Slgckgc via Flickr
Severino was not perfect in his MLB debut against the Boston Red Sox; he worked around some 3-2 counts and surrendered a mammoth home run to David Ortiz. But, he also buckled down when the count was in the hitter’s favor never allowing a walk, and retired the final six batters he faced after Ortiz’s bomb.

In five innings of work, Severino allowed two runs, one earned, on two hits. He struck out seven Red Sox and walked none. He was handed the tough luck loss, but after the game it seemed anyone who was asked praised the Yankees’ top pitching prospect.

"He was awesome," Wednesday night’s catcher John Ryan Murphy said via MLB.com. "He definitely belongs; that's one of the first things that stands out. He's a competitor. He wants to be the guy in control. ... I think overall, he should be really proud of himself."

Monday, August 3, 2015

Yankees weekend news wrap: Road trip, standing pat, two months to go

The New York Yankees remained in control of the American League East after going 6-4 on their road trip. The Yankees virtually stood pat at the deadline (minus one minor move) and the club has two months to, to the day, to maintain their position in the standings and reach the postseason for the first time since 2012.

Great trip


I wrote at the beginning of the 10-game road trip that if the Yankees could figure out a way to hit on the road as well as they have at home, while all else being equal, they would be tough to beat after the trade deadline. The Yankees did just that, pounding out 21 runs in one game at Texas and 13 and 12 runs in two of their games against the White Sox. The Yanks averaged 4.6 runs in the other seven games which should be plenty of offense if the pitching is doing their job.

What was even better is this stat:

That’s impressive considering the top five or six guys in the lineup have carried the club's offense through much of the season. If the trend remains (obviously not at the level of the road trip, but basically average to above-average offensive production) the Yankees will be hard to catch.

Saturday, August 1, 2015

Yankees: Why Dustin Ackley?

The New York Yankees seemed poised to make a deal Friday, the final day of the non-waiver trading period. The Yanks were linked to relievers Craig Kimbrel and Aroldis Chapman for parts of the day, hoping to make a splash by building a superpower bullpen. It wasn’t meant to be and the Yankees stayed pat on deadline day.

The Yankees were not entirely quiet, making one deal this week; trading outfielder Ramon Flores and right-handed reliever Jose Ramirez to the Seattle Mariners for utility player Dustin Ackley. The Yankees designated 1B/OF Garrett Jones for assignment to make space for Ackley on the active roster. Ackley, 27, can be used throughout the outfield as well as first and second base.

Ackley, a former first round pick (No. 2, 2009), has never truly lived up to expectations as a top-rated prospect in the Mariners’ system. Once Robinson Cano was signed for the 2014 season, Ackley was permanently shifted to the outfield from his natural position at second base.

Friday, July 31, 2015

Rough day for Yankees leads to ramped up trade speculation

The New York Yankees have had better days than they endured Thursday. Names the Yankees were interested in on the trade market came off, Michael Pineda was placed on the disabled list with a forearm strain and they lost their game in walk-off fashion.

It looks as though the Yankees will use this final non-waiver trading day to grab a top-flight reliever, having been linked to both Craig Kimbrel and Aroldis Chapman. They’ve most recently been linked to Carter Capps as a backup plan should either the Padres or Reds want one of the “untouchables” (Aaron Judge, Luis Severino, Greg Bird and to a lesser extent Jorge Mateo) prospects in return.

The reliever over starter mindset here is based on the Yankees wanting to shorten games to six (or even five innings) by utilizing an extremely deep and ultra-talented bullpen. It also has a lot to do with the quality of the starting pitchers still on the market who would not cost one of the players mentioned above.

The rotation is still an issue with CC Sabathia being flat-out awful and Pineda’s injury. However, the club has internal options to fill the rotation void until Pineda can come back. They can use any combination of Adam Warren (would need to be stretched back out), Bryan Mitchell or Severino.

Finally, if the Yankees cannot reach an agreement for Kimbrel, Chapman or Capps they don’t exactly have a problematic bullpen situation with Warren, Chasen Shreve, Justin Wilson, Dellin Betances and Andrew Miller carrying the load.

I agree with the Yankees not wanting to add the main three to a deal, but would be fine with Mateo in one IF it brings a controllable starter and reliever (Tyson Ross and Kimbrel) for example. I've never seen Mateo play and understand he could be great, but he's pretty far off and anything can happen. A deal like this makes Yanks much better now and for a couple more seasons.

It should be an exciting day.

Christopher Carelli is a freelance baseball writer. Besides his work here, Christopher is a featured Yankees writer for SNY.tv. His baseball commentary has also been published on Yahoo Sports and linked multiple times on MLB Trade Rumors’ Baseball Blogs Weigh In. He is a member of the Internet Baseball Writers Association of America, the Baseball Bloggers Alliance and the BYB Hub.



Wednesday, July 29, 2015

Has Chris Capuano thrown his last pitch for Yankees?

The New York Yankees felt they needed veteran depth for the rotation during the offseason and signed Chris Capuano to a one-year, $5 million contract to fit the role. Capuano supplied the Yankees with some decent innings in 2014, but at the time of the signing I felt this was an unnecessary deal. After putting up a 6.97 ERA this season, maybe it’s time the Yankees felt the same way.

The need for Capuano with Adam Warren, Bryan Mitchell and others in the system seemed like a move that didn’t need to be made, but for the Yankees, $5 million is a splash in the bucket. It’s hard to get too riled up when it’s not my money, but Capuano on the mound causes more than just bad results for the team. He’s taking a roster spot; one which could go to a pitcher who could grow with time on the major league roster. And more importantly, be better.

Tuesday, July 28, 2015

Yankees’ Teixeira goes ballistic, then rips third base coach Espada

New York Yankees first baseman Mark Teixeira has always seemed like a mind-mannered guy. He obviously has a good sense of humor, based on his talk show parody from last season in which he was the host. But Monday night, Teixeira showed a side of him that he might want to rethink for the future.

While on second base in the eighth inning, Chase Headley looped a single to center field, and third base coach Joe Espada sent Teixeira home. Nothing crazy here; except Espada apparently yelled to Teixeira “easy, easy,” indicating he could make it home without busting it down the line. It was evident looking at replays that Teixeira did just that slowing down after rounding third.

Unfortunately, Texas Rangers center fielder Leonys Martin has a great arm. He threw a bullet home and by the time Teixeira noticed there was going to be a play at the plate he was too late to try and pick up speed. Teixeira immediately turned around a put his arms in the air and yelled something toward Espada.

Saturday, July 25, 2015

Yankees need another strong second half from Chase Headley

When the New York Yankees traded for Chase Headley last July, they hoped he would find his stroke and solidify the revolving door at third base. He did. This season, after a rocky first half, the Yanks are looking for another strong finish from Headley in both departments. He’s on his way to doing it.

Chase Headley
Photo credit: Keith Allison via Flickr
Headley was signed to a four-year, $52 million deal, and they expected him to be much of the same person who finished out the 2014 season. They did not figure he would generate a .682 OPS, and they certainly didn’t peg him for 16 errors for the season, let alone to this point.

There is reason to be optimistic. Headley has looked much better at third base in recent weeks, and he has been hitting the ball well this month. Since July 1, Headley's slashing .333/.379/.426 with five doubles and seven RBI. The Yankees would love to have that kind of production (maybe with a few homers) going forward.

Headley has a distinct record of hitting much better after the All-Star break, making July look like a premonition of the remainder of the summer. I tweeted this Friday about Headley's career first and second half splits.

Those are rather encouraging stats for Headley and the Yankees.

Headley has seemingly stabilized in the field and has begun to find a groove at the plate. It would be a big boost to the offense if Headley can become a contributor at the bottom third of the order. Based on his production this month and his history, there’s a good chance he can answer the call.



Thursday, July 23, 2015

If Yankees find way on road, watch out

The New York Yankees have won their last five series, including a series sweep of the Baltimore Orioles, which wrapped up this afternoon. All but one of the series' victories have occurred at Yankee Stadium.

The Yankees embark on a 10-game road trip where they'll hope to continue to maintain or advance their comfortable lead in the American League East. It will take a reversal of performance on the road, or else the Yanks might end up falling back to the pack.

The Yankees enter the road trip with a 23-24 record away from Yankee Stadium. The Yanks have played in 15 series on the road so far this season, winning five and splitting another. Three of those series’ wins occurred during the first four weeks of the season.

If the Yankees want to put a stranglehold on the division, winning a couple of the upcoming series is imperative. Doing so will also go a long way toward building confidence that they can win outside of Yankee Stadium, and it will give notice to opposing teams.

Saturday, July 18, 2015

Yankees optioning Bryan Mitchell might signal expensive trade market

The New York Yankees optioned right-hander pitcher Bryan Mitchell to Triple-A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre and recalled righty Branden Pinder Saturday.

Mitchell had been up with the club for a few weeks and made six appearances totaling 9.1 innings. He carried a 2.89 ERA and a 1.07 WHIP, while striking out nine batters during his stay.

So far in 10.2 innings (nine games) with the Yankees, Pinder has a 2.53 ERA with a 1.13 WHIP. He’ll be the right-handed counterpart to lefty Chris Capuano out of the bullpen in long-relief or mop-up duties.

I've been saying for some time that the Yankees might be better off with Mitchell as the insurance for the rotation versus trading for it. This move could signal that the Yankees are finding the trade market to be a bit expensive and felt the team is better served by getting Mitchell stretched back out in case of an injury or poor performance down the road.

The Yankees outward position on trades seems to be to hold on to their best prospects (Luis Severino, Aaron Judge and Gregory Bird for example) and be reluctant about trading midlevel prospects unless something of value comes their way.

In the rental market, middle-of-the-rotation starting pitching (Mike Leake and Jeff Samardzija for example) would still cost midlevel prospects. Maybe the Yankees feel unwilling to part with the players they would need to give up when Mitchell is available for nothing.

The move makes absolute sense in my view even if the reason has nothing to do with the trade market. Mitchell is better served as a starter for the club in the long run and if there isn't a concern about innings at this time, then stretching him back out is the way to go.

Christopher Carelli is a freelance baseball writer. Besides his work here, Christopher is a featured Yankees writer for SNY.tv. His baseball commentary has also been published on Yahoo Sports and linked multiple times on MLB Trade Rumors’ Baseball Blogs Weigh In. He is a member of the Internet Baseball Writers Association of America, the Baseball Bloggers Alliance and the BYB Hub.



Thursday, July 16, 2015

If Yankees’ Refsnyder is in, who is out?

The New York Yankees finally called up second baseman Rob Refsnyder Saturday and he had a productive weekend series in Boston going 2-for-7 with a two-run home run. It looks as though he is going to stick around for at least a little bit. At issue, is the Yankees have Brendan Ryan and Carlos Beltran ready to come off the disabled list in the very near future. Who on the Yankees’ roster becomes expendable?

Rob Refsnyder
Photo credit: Tom Hagerty via Flickr
The first candidate is easy enough to figure out; Gregorio Petit. He was signed just before the season began when Ryan went down with his first injury. Petit has not been used much (20 games, 47 plate appearances, 27 OPS+) and has been underwhelming in his appearances. With a glut of players in the infield, Petit becomes a disposable piece. He likely clears waivers and accepts a position at Triple-A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre. If not, who cares?

It’s not certain who will be ready first, but what happens when Ryan or Beltran is the second of the two to be ready to be activated? We know Beltran gets a spot back on the 25-man roster, but it seems that after removing Petit, it’s either Ryan or Stephen Drew who is next to get lopped off if Refsnyder sticks with the club.

Monday, July 13, 2015

Yankees weekend news wrap: AL East, Refsnyder, All-Star break, Futures

The MLB All-Star break has begun and the New York Yankees find themselves sitting atop the American League East with a 48-40 record. The Yanks hold a 3 1/2 game lead over the Tampa Bay Rays (the Rays are five back in the loss column, while the Baltimore Orioles are four back). After a 15-12 record in June, the Yankees are 7-3 in July. The club finished off the first half of the season winning two of three games at Boston; sinking the Red Sox 6 1/2 games back (seven on loss side) in the division.

I wrote last week at SNY that the Yankees will need to find a way to pull away from the pack, but that the clubs trying to stay with them, the Red Sox included, each have the ability to make a run making it no easy task. The division has been declared weak by many, but really the entire American League is nothing to get all concerned about. If the Yankees are able to reach the playoffs by winning the division, they could make some noise in the postseason.

Refsnyder finally called up


Rob Refsnyder
Photo credit: Tom Hagerty via Flickr
For what has seemed like an eternity of waiting for many Yankees’ fans, Rob Refsnyder made his major league debut Saturday in Boston. In his first game, he looked comfortable at the plate, but didn’t come away with any hits. In Sunday’s series finale, Refsnyder went 2-for-4 at the dish with his first MLB hit (a single) and his first big league home run, a two-run blast over the Green Monster, which ended up being the difference in the game. Refsnyder made a couple nice plays in the field, but was charged with an error after failing to make a catch in a fielder’s choice play as part of a messy ninth inning by the Yankees in the field.

The knock on Refsnyder is his fielding. Aside from the missed catch, he looked good during plays he was involved including a nice turn on a double play chance in Saturday’s game. So far he has not looked out of sorts, or overmatched.

There are questions as to how the Yankees will utilize Refsnyder after the All-Star break. Will he be part of a strict platoon with Stephen Drew? Or will he take on an abundance of the plate appearances going forward? Is this an audition for using Refsnyder as a trade chip?

Friday, July 10, 2015

Yankees’ legend and Hall of Famer Goose Gossage talks baseball past and present

As part of Hormel Foods’ No-hassle Major League Tailgate Tips promotion, I had the distinct pleasure and honor of speaking with former New York Yankees’ reliever and Major League Baseball Hall of Famer Rich "Goose" Gossage by phone Friday.

Photo credit: www.goosegossage.com
Gossage pitched for nine different teams across 22 seasons in the big leagues. He spent six seasons with the Yankees (1978-83) and finished the 1989 season in pinstripes after being picked up on waivers that August.

Gossage, who threw 100-mph gas, intimidated batters while compiling a career mark of 124-107 with a 3.01 ERA and saved 310 games. Gossage nailed down 52 saves in which he recorded at least seven outs, 125 with at least six outs, something unheard of today.

Gossage, now 64, was a nine-time All-Star and a member of three World Series teams including the 1978 World Champion Yankees. Gossage was inducted into the National Baseball Hall of Fame in 2008, his ninth time on the ballot.

After over 20 years passing since he was last called from the bullpen, I got the impression while speaking with Gossage that if I handed him a ball and told him there was a game to save he’d take it and blow batters away. He misses the competition and being with teammates; something he remembers since he was 7 years old.

“I miss it, I think we all miss it; there is nothing like facing that hitter up there,” Gossage said. "I miss that competition the most.”

Gossage noted that the camaraderie with teammates was another thing absent from his life since hanging up his spikes. I asked him about first impressions with teammates and how they might change over time. He laughed and jumped straight into talking about his favorite teammate, Thurman Munson.