Friday, February 27, 2015

Yankees enjoy upbeat first week of Spring Training

The New York Yankees are one week into Spring Training as of Friday and while there is incessant chatter about Alex Rodriguez’s return to the diamond (or more like everything he does off it), there are many other on-the-field happenings that has the club upbeat.

While it’s early, the pitching staff has been building up arm strength, with some, facing live batters. The word is that everyone is feeling healthy and showing no signs of early camp soreness {knocking on wood}.

Nathan Eovaldi seems to be the furthest along, mostly since he was in Tampa well before the others arrived. Of course, this makes sense with Eovaldi working on his ancillary pitches in an effort to make the most out of his power fastball.

CC Sabathia threw his latest bullpen session Friday and George King III of the New York Post reported that the big lefty’s surgically repaired right knee is responding well and that he’ll face live hitters sometime next week.

Thursday, February 26, 2015

Betances, Miller or both for Yankees' closer?

The New York Yankees have a situation that many teams would kill for; two incredibly capable relievers vying for the ninth-inning job. Right-hander Dellin Betances and lefty Andrew Miller entered camp as the close-out options for manager Joe Girardi.

Girardi has stated that he would like to settle the issue before Spring Training ends, but also said he felt comfortable utilizing both in the role depending on the lineup situation of the opposition. It’s believed that Girardi would prefer to have a set eighth and ninth-inning man, and is completely fine with either Betances or Miller being the answer.

What is the better option for the Yankees?

Wednesday, February 25, 2015

Yankees’ Mark Teixeira changes diet, not approach at plate

New York Yankees’ first baseman Mark Teixeira had an answer this offseason for his inability to beat the shift when he’s hitting left-handed – go on a gluten-free diet, gain 13 pounds of muscle and trim 5 percent off his body fat. Teixeira vowed in an interview with reporters Wednesday to simply try and pull balls into the seats and the right field gap for doubles, or take a walk instead of changing his approach at the plate.

Some tweets from MLB.com's Bryan Hoch:

More on slap-hitting via ESPN New York's Wallace Matthews:

Tuesday, February 24, 2015

Offensive success begins with Yankees’ Brett Gardner

The New York Yankees produced the third worst offense in the American League last season, but Brett Gardner was not a part of the problem, at least not until August. Gardner enjoyed one of his better overall statistical seasons in the Bronx and solidified his place atop the Yankees batting order with an amazing first four months.

For 2015 to be an offensive success for the Yankees, Gardner will have to replicate his production from the first two-thirds of 2014, not fall apart and hope that the middle of the lineup turns things around so he can score some runs.

Gardner had an extremely productive four months in 2014, but faltered down the stretch. He hammered a career-high 17 home runs, and racked up 50 extra-base hits (25 doubles, eight triples). His overall slash line (.257/.327/.422) would have been better but for a lengthy 40-game slump (.176/.226/.301) at the end of the season. Gardner had an .831 OPS before the slump began.

We found out last November that Gardner’s slide might have been attributed to a sports hernia that finally caught up to him. Gardner had offseason surgery to repair the issue and expects to be fine as Spring Training begins for position players in a couple of days.

Monday, February 23, 2015

Yankees lose Yoan Moncada sweepstakes, angering parts of fanbase

The New York Yankees are ALWAYS expected to outbid their opponents for the best of the best players. Well, George Steinbrenner has been dead for several years now and it’s time some Yankees fans understand those days are long gone.

Moncada, a 19-year-old Cuban prospect, is loved by every scouting analyst there is. He projects to be a second or third baseman, but could land in the outfield as well. He’s built like a rock and just cost the Boston Red Sox $63 million ($31.5 million bonus and $31.5 million in international spending penalties). The deal was first reported by Jesse Sanchez via Twitter.

Yankees’ weekend news wrap: All about pitching

The New York Yankees saw their hurlers on the mound for the first time this spring over the weekend and as is the case around the league, optimism reigns supreme.

CC Sabathia


The big southpaw checked into camp at 305 pounds according to Wallace Matthews of ESPN New York. Sabathia told Matthews that he feels more comfortable in this weight zone, than he did when he came to came 30 pounds lighter last season.

Sabathia made just eight starts in 2014 and is coming off arthroscopic right knee surgery. He went 3-4 with a 5.28 ERA (4.78 FIP), 1.48 WHIP and 48 K in 46 innings. After also turning in a disappointing 2013 season (14 W, 4.78 ERA, 1.37 WHIP, 175 K in 211 IP), Sabathia’s road to a turnaround begins with his health and ends with his ability to get batters out without a high velocity fastball.

Sabathia says he’s been picking the brain of former Yankee great Andy Pettitte regarding how to make the transition from a dominant fastball to relying on offspeed offerings. Sabathia tossed 25 pitches in his first bullpen session Saturday, a mix of fastballs and changeups. The changeup used to be one of Sabathia’s best pitches and if he can determine the best velocity difference between the fastball and change both pitches could become more effective again.

Saturday, February 21, 2015

Joe Girardi: Despite uncertainties Yankees “have a chance to be really good”

New York Yankees manager Joe Girardi held his Spring Training opening press conference Friday and the theme was uncertainty with a measure of confidence. The issues that surround the club are numerous; what’s the physical health of the team, can the middle of the lineup produce, how will the new faces mesh with the old, who will close games, what’s the batting order, can Alex Rodriguez be useful and on and on. Despite all those questions, Girardi believes things can come together and the Yankees can erase two seasons of missing the playoffs.

Girardi, who has guided his teams through a slew of injuries the last two seasons, might be up for his biggest test as a manager of the Yankees. He’ll have to navigate through the spring with plenty of ambiguity across the diamond, likely right through the end of the session, before he’s got a firm grip of what’s ahead for this team.

Friday, February 20, 2015

A performance-only outlook for Yankees’ Alex Rodriguez

How about a 2015 outlook for the New York Yankees’ Alex Rodriguez without diving into the numerous narratives?

No talk of whether he wronged baseball, mistreated his teammates, lied to the fans, made empty apologies or lives with a tarnished legacy. If you want that nonsense, you have landed on the wrong page. We’re going to look at Rodriguez’s chances of helping – or hurting – the Yankees on the field in 2015.

Let's begin with some facts.

Fact: It has been almost 17 months since Rodriguez stepped into a Major League batter’s box.
Fact: Rodriguez will turn 40 years old July 27.
Fact: Rodriguez has played in 265 games and accumulated 992 plate appearances since 2011.
Fact: Rodriguez hit .244/.348/.423 in 2013 across 181 plate appearances.
Fact: The last time A-Rod recorded an OPS over .800 was in 2011.

Thursday, February 19, 2015

Yankees' Chris Capuano: Rotation filler

The New York Yankees signed Chris Capuano to a one-year, $5 million contract to be the fifth starter for at least the beginning of the 2015 season. The role of the fifth starter is a tenuous one; falter and there is always a guy ready to take the spot. In Capuano’s case there are several.

Only a select few teams anticipate much from their fifth starter other than innings, and that’s probably the case for Capuano too. But in reality the Yankees might need Capuano to produce above what should be reasonably expected of someone in the spot due in part to the uncertainty surrounding the rest of the starting staff.

That said, Yankees pitching coach Larry Rothschild may have taken some stress off Capuano, by suggesting the club could go through the middle part of April and into May with a six-man rotation due to a stretch of 30 games in 31 days according to Bryan Hoch of MLB.com. Capuano could very well be the sixth guy with Adam Warren, Esmil Rogers, Bryan Mitchell and Chase Whitley competing for a rotation spot in Spring Training.

Tuesday, February 17, 2015

Celebrating Yankees’ heroes should be fun

The New York Yankees announced Monday that they would be retiring the jersey numbers of Andy Pettitte (No. 46), Jorge Posada (No. 20) and Bernie Williams (No. 51) this coming season. The club will also conduct a ceremony for former captain Willie Randolph, giving him a plaque in Monument Park. The press release including the dates of the events is here.

Once the three numbers are retired and out of circulation, the Yankees will be without the use of 20 numbers, and Derek Jeter’s No. 2 will surely be out of use until it is officially retired at a later time. The Yankees had a slew of number retirements and plaque ceremonies last season, mostly to celebrate members of the late 90’s early 00’s teams who made significant contributions to the franchise especially those who helped with four World Series titles in five seasons. The team also wove in an “old timer” along the way (Goose Gossage last season).

The Yankees call it a “recognition series” and that’s all it should be looked at as. It’s not meant to examine players and determine who had more of an impact or not. It’s simply the team’s way of showing their appreciation for the player’s roles in the history of the Yankees. Some players, as far as the Yankees are concerned, check off enough boxes to warrant their number being retired, others will receive a plaque and many more will receive nothing more than an invite to Old Timer's Day.

Friday, February 13, 2015

Yankees might need even more from Jacoby Ellsbury in 2015

When the New York Yankees signed Jacoby Ellsbury to a seven-year, $153 million contract before the 2014 season, there was immediate speculation about the short and long term ramifications of the deal. Could Ellsbury produce enough early on in the contract to “pay off” the inevitable decline at the end of it?

Ellsbury was arguably the Yankees’ best offensive player in 2014. Unfortunately that is not really saying much as the Yankees’ offense sputtered virtually all season ranking 13th in runs scored in the American League and 20th in all of Major League Baseball with 633. That was down from 650 runs scored in 2013, and 804 in 2012.

Ellsbury was brought to the Bronx to boost those 2013 numbers, and while he put together a solid season, it was through incredible spurts of great and poor stretches, and without much support. When Ellsbury was hitting, he was unstoppable and when he was having trouble at the plate it was painful to watch. It seemed that if he was hot no one else was, and when he slowed down, some players were mired in slumps of their own.

Thursday, February 12, 2015

Who is Nathan Eovaldi and can he help the Yankees?

The New York Yankees made a conscious decision when the offseason began to try and get younger. They did exactly that when they traded 28-year-old David Phelps to the Miami Marlins for soon to be 25-year-old Nathan Eovaldi. The Yankees also received Domingo German and Garrett Jones in the deal, but lost Martin Prado to the Marlins.

While Phelps had provided solid swingman capabilities the last couple of seasons, Eovaldi steps right into the Yankees’ starting rotation, likely the fourth starter assuming good health for the rest of the staff.

The question is; can Eovaldi find himself in New York?

Tuesday, February 10, 2015

Yankees, Alex Rodriguez clear the air

The New York Yankees met with Alex Rodriguez Tuesday according to a joint press release from the team and the player.

The meeting was conducted at the request of the beleaguered third baseman as a means to air out the issues Rodriguez brought on through his involvement in the Biogenesis performance-enhancing drug scandal and subsequent yearlong suspension.

The entire release is below.

Chase Headley brings plate discipline, excellent defense to Yankees

The New York Yankees were falling out of the 2014 playoff picture, but they made a trade for Chase Headley, a third baseman long coveted by the club. Headley was not necessarily seen as a savior – he was hitting just .229/.296/.355 at the time – but the Yankees felt he could turn things around in New York and might have viewed the deal as a long-term tryout of sorts.

With no one in the system ready to make the step to the big leagues and uncertainty with Alex Rodriguez’s hobbled hips, the Yankees may have felt Headley could make a difference in the coming years. Being unsure of how he would handle the Big Apple atmosphere, or how he would like playing in the Bronx, a midseason trade made some sense.

Headley fit right in with his new teammates (and the fans) and instantly provided a defensive upgrade at third base. He also showed some of the potential upside his presence at the plate could provide. When Headley is right he is an on-base machine with some pop. His lefty swing – he is a switch-hitter – profiles nicely with the short porch in Yankee Stadium’s right field. In 224 plate appearances with the Yankees, Headley put up a slash of .262/.371/.398 with eight doubles and six home runs.

Monday, February 9, 2015

Yankees head toward spring training, offseason plan intact

The New York Yankees had a plan for this offseason and despite some eye-candy on the free-agent market they have stuck to it. In recent winters, the Yankees tended to offer lip service about creating a new methodology for handling roster decisions and took a detour. As spring training is set to begin in the coming days, the club seems ready to proceed down the path originated in October.

The idea has been to refrain from signing players to nine-figure deals who they felt would be financial drains at the end of the term, dominate the international signing period, grow the farm system by maintaining its best prospects while protecting draft picks and find a way to get younger. They have succeeded in each of these aspects.

Friday, February 6, 2015

Can Yankees’ Michael Pineda put it all together in 2015?

When the New York Yankees traded their once top-rated prospect Jesus Montero for Michael Pineda, it seemed like a classic situation which would invoke discussions for years to come as to who got the better end of the deal. Three years later and we are still wondering.

While Montero languishes in the Seattle Mariners organization, troubled by personal decisions concerning his physical condition and mental makeup, Pineda has yet to throw 100 innings in the Bronx.

In 2014, after a long journey working his way back from arthroscopic surgery to repair an anterior labral tear in his right shoulder conducted in 2012, Pineda showed the Yankees a glimpse of what they hoped he would bring from the trade. Pineda was fantastic early on for the Yankees; clearly one of their better pitchers in April. With Masahiro Tanaka also dominating hitters, it seemed like the duo could lead the Yankees into the postseason.

Thursday, February 5, 2015

Yankees’ Didi Gregorius must exceed 2014 version of Derek Jeter

The New York Yankees do not need new shortstop Didi Gregorius to be Derek Jeter from the glory years, nor does he profile to be the type of player the former captain once was, but he can still make a positive impact on the club in 2015. For starters, improvement on Jeter's 2014 performance in the field and at the plate will set the tone for Gregorius' future standing with the club.

Gregorius, who turns 25 later this month, comes to the Yankees at somewhat of a crossroads. He is considered an above-average fielder by most (we'll get to the unpleasant fielding metrics that disagree with this later) who swings a bat that has some potential upside. Unfortunately, much of that promise has been shown in small spurts in the big leagues, more so in the minors and entirely from one side of the plate.

Tuesday, February 3, 2015

Should Yankees consider James Shields at discount rate?

The New York Yankees have done a very commendable job sticking to their guns by shying away from nine-figure deals this offseason. With Max Scherzer, Jon Lester and James Shields on the free-agent market, it would not have been out of the question for the Yanks to go hard after one of them after missing the playoffs for the second consecutive season.

The Yanks passed on Lester, and then on Scherzer. All the while, Shields has languished on the market. Apparently, he is not a pitcher who warrants $100 million+ in salary, and at 33 years old, his value has seemingly dropped into a zone where the Yankees might take a look.

The Yankees strategy this offseason had more to do with the timeframe of contracts, than it did the bottom line value of those contracts. The value matters, but only in reference to the length of time the club would be subjected to the terms.

Monday, February 2, 2015

Yankees hope for “baseball card stats” from Stephen Drew

When the New York Yankees offseason began there were murmurs that the second base job could be handed to one of the club’s promising prospects. Instead, the Yanks elected to bring Stephen Drew into the fold, and the choice is not an overwhelming favorite of the fanbase.

Rewind to the offseason following the Boston Red Sox winning the 2013 World Series and Drew looked like a decent choice for a team looking for a slick fielding shortstop that could handle the stick. The problem was he had a qualifying offer attached to his name and, well, Drew was not thought of as someone worthy of losing a draft pick.

He reportedly received some offers, but none of which made his agent Scott Boras jump, and they decided to hold out. Drew missed the entirety of spring training, eventually signing with the Red Sox in May. For as good as Drew was at the plate in 2013, he was twice as miserable there in 2014.