Tuesday, April 28, 2015

Forearm strain, wrist tendinitis lands Yankees' Masahiro Tanaka on DL

The New York Yankees announced starting pitcher Masahiro Tanaka was placed on the 15-day disabled list with tendinitis in his right wrist and a “very mild” forearm strain after taking an MRI this evening. Tanaka is "conservatively" out for one month according to Yankees general manager Brian Cashman via multiple reporters including Newsday's Brian Heyman.

Masahiro Tanaka
Photo credit: Keith Allison via Flickr
Cashman met with the media during Tuesday’s game and then was interviewed live on the YES Network. Cashman said the issue is minor, but the club with take it slow with their prized pitcher considering his partial tear of the ulnar collateral ligament (UCL). Cashman did say that there was no change in Tanaka’s elbow.

Tanaka said he felt the pain Monday morning after Sunday’s bullpen session according to YES Network reporter Meredith Marakovits. He felt it again during his session today and told trainer Steve Donahue which led to the tests. Marakovits noted that Tanaka felt as though he would be fine once the time passes and did not think this was related to his elbow. She also mentioned that Tanaka was reserved with his words when describing the injury.

Tuesday night’s starter Chase Whitley will stay up with the club, and Gregorio Petit, who was optioned earlier in the day to make room for Whitley will be brought back up tomorrow.
This is obviously a big blow for the Yankees rotation. Earlier today, I suggested that the rotation as a whole would need to begin to last longer in games and Tanaka was one of the keys to making that happen.

The good news is that Whitley has plenty of experience after spending most of the first part of last season with the Yankees and Chris Capuano is beginning his rehab assignment soon so if Whitley cannot give the team the performance required to stay in the rotation, the lefty veteran could step in. Ivan Nova is also due back in June as he continues to rehab from his Tommy John surgery. The Yankees also have Bryan Mitchell in the minors if all else fails or if there is another injury in the meantime.

Hopefully this injury is not a precursor to more issues with Tanaka and his elbow. It is too hard to tell at this time and to speculate beyond what we’ve been told is not prudent. Everyone will have to take a wait and see approach as Tanaka hits the shelf. The Yankees will have to buckle down and survive at least one month without their star pitcher.

Christopher Carelli is a freelance baseball writer. Besides his work here, Christopher is a correspondent for FantasyPros, where he writes a weekly column covering the closer/bullpen situations around Major League Baseball. His baseball commentary has also been published on Yahoo Sports, the FanSided network, Sportsideo 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.

Time for Yankees’ rotation to help bullpen

The New York Yankees are 20 games into the season and find themselves in first place in the American League East for the first time since May 2014. With a 12-8 record, the Yankees have put aside a 1-4 start and a big reason for their success is an extremely talented bullpen.

Dellin Betances
Photo credit: Keith Allison via Flickr
Yes, the Yankees have received some nice starts from their rotation, and sure they have been better on offense than some expected. But, it is the bullpen that has shined from the outset and carried the rotation. It is time for a shift in balance.

Yankees' catcher Brian McCann summed up the bullpen’s performance.

“I’ll put our guys up against anybody,” McCann said according to Chad Jennings of The LoHud Yankees Blog. “The stuff that’s coming out of the bullpen is incredible.”

Monday, April 27, 2015

Why Yankees refuse to market Alex Rodriguez's home run milestones

The New York Yankees took the rubber game of their weekend series against the crosstown New York Mets Sunday night by a score of 6-4. Alex Rodriguez was a key contributor to the victory, hammering career home run no. 659. Rodriguez is now one homer shy of tying Hall of Famer Willie Mays on the all-time home run list.

Alex Rodriguez
Photo courtesy of Keith Allison
via Flickr.
Major League Baseball decided long ago not to expunge statistics for players who have been caught taking performance-enhancing drugs, or who have been undeniably linked to them as Rodriguez was in the Biogenesis scandal. And because of that, there is little arguing that he is on the brink of tying Mays for fourth on the home run list. It’s a fact. How he got there can be debated from now until our grandchildren watch the game and consume its history, but once he hits his next home run it will be no. 660.

What’s at question for Rodriguez and the Yankees is a milestone rider to his contract he signed with the club when he re-upped for 10 years, $275 million back in 2007. That addendum states Rodriguez is due performance bonuses of $6 million each for tying Mays, Babe Ruth (714), Hank Aaron (755), Barry Bonds (762), and then for passing Bonds (763) on MLB's all-time home run list. The Yankees believed they had a "clean" player who could be celebrated for reaching such measures. They no longer feel the same way.

Friday, April 24, 2015

Hot Yankees host scalding-hot Mets

When was the last time the New York Mets came into Yankee Stadium riding an franchise-record-tying 11-game winning streak? Never, until now. Yes, the boys from Queens are red-hot and will face a slightly-less-hot New York Yankees club that has won six of their last seven games (seven of 10 on the road trip) to move two games above .500 and into a three-way tied for first place in the American League East.

The Mets’ 13-3 start is tied for the best in club history with the 1986 World Series championship team and the 10-0 homestand they just completed was the first ever such domination. It was a stark contrast to the Yankees last homestand which saw them lose four of six games.

The Mets have one of the better rotations in the game and will send out Jacob deGrom, Matt Harvey and Jon Niese in succession to the hill in the series. The Yankees have been getting solid pitching as well and will counter with Michael Pineda, CC Sabathia and Nathan Eovaldi respectively.

Thursday, April 23, 2015

What happens when injured Yankees return?

As the New York Yankees raised themselves over the .500 mark with Wednesday’s 13-4 drubbing of the Detroit Tigers, we received some injury updates which could soon impact the current roster. How will these returning players change the landscape of the Yankees?

For the sake of this thought process, let’s assume that the Yankees remain otherwise healthy once the players return. Sure, there is a chance that someone will go down, thus making room for an injured player to return without a big change in the roster, but it’s entirely too difficult to try and factor that in for this exercise.

Jose Pirela is finally getting into game action after sustaining a concussion a few weeks ago during a Spring Training game. He went one-for-three in an extended Spring Training game Monday in which he played third base. He played second base Wednesday. Pirela would be the fans choice to immediately be called back to the Bronx. But where would he play?

Wednesday, April 22, 2015

Yankees checking all the boxes

The New York Yankees defeated the Detroit Tigers 5-2 Tuesday night behind a complete team effort. It marks the club's fourth win in five games and for the most part they are winning with efforts that check all the boxes of a complete win.

The Yanks have been getting solid pitching, good offensive production, excellent defense and even some quality base running. Remember the four facets Alex Rodriguez mentioned and discussed here? The Yankees are beginning to find some consistency among them, allowing for the opportunity to win ballgames.

Tuesday night exemplified what teams strive for each contest; high-quality efforts from all parts of the game. Nathan Eovaldi tossed seven innings of one-run ball. Dellin Betances looked the best he has all season and Andrew Miller locked down his fifth save in as many chances.

Tuesday, April 21, 2015

Yankees encouraged by winless Sabathia

The New York Yankees have not won a game in which CC Sabathia has pitched this season, yet the team is probably as excited about three losses as they could be considering what Sabathia has done on the mound thus far.

Of course, it is just three games and we cannot assume that Sabathia’s knee will hold up, but we also cannot ignore the underlying components of Sabathia’s work in his first few turns through the rotation.

Monday, April 20, 2015

Yankees decline to name Miller closer and that’s OK

Despite the fact that all four of the New York Yankees save opportunities this season have gone to Andrew Miller, the club has yet to officially anoint him the closer. And there is nothing wrong with that.

It goes a long way that Miller is completely uncaring about the role being bestowed upon him, plus the fact that he acknowledged that Dellin Betances had the more difficult task Sunday against the Rays in the Yankees' 5-3 victory.

“I’ve got the saves this year, but (Betances) went through the meat of the lineup today,” Miller said via Chad Jennings. “If you look at who had the heavier burden today, it was probably him. He came into a much tougher situation, got more outs and had to face the middle of that lineup.”

Friday, April 17, 2015

Yankees looking to get on track against Rays

The New York Yankees begin a three-game set Friday against division rival Tampa Bay (6-4, second place in AL East) with the hopes of winning their first series of the season. Adam Warren, Masahiro Tanaka and Michael Pineda are the scheduled starters for the Yankees versus the Rays.

Adam Warren gets the start Friday.
Photo courtesy of Keith Allison
via Flickr.
The Yankees are 3-6 on the season, good for last place in the American League East. The first nine games of the season have seen plenty of ups and downs for the club. The rotation has been OK, but big innings and bad defense have suffocated the Yankees.

Warren pitched very well in his debut (5.1 IP, 2 R, 1 ER) against the Boston Red Sox, but took the loss. Tanaka will be making his third start of the season. He was undone by a poor inning in the Yankees' opener, but was a bit better in his victory over the Red Sox. Pineda is also set for his third start after picking up his first win despite allowing four runs against the Baltimore Orioles.

Not all of the opposition scoring is the fault of the pitchers. The defense has been letting the team down with several miscues, each of which seems to open the flood gates for their opponent.

Thursday, April 16, 2015

Yankees: A-Rod’s “four facets” talk rings true

The New York Yankees are 3-6, and have lost their first three series to teams in the American League East. They have a day off Thursday and face the final team in their division in a three-game set in Tampa beginning Friday.

Alex Rodriguez put the Yankees' predicament perfectly after Thursday night’s 7-5 loss to the Baltimore Orioles.

“We’re going to be seeing these guys (the entire AL East) all year for a long time,” Rodriguez said per Chad Jennings of The LoHud Yankees Blog. “We know the score. It’s important to play well. More than who we’re playing against, it’s more important to control what we can do. The four facets is what we have to go back to, focus on the fundamentals and let the big things happen when they happen.”

Say what you will about A-Rod, but he has always been a student of the game. He has been known to love chatting about baseball and is considered by many to be incredibly astute concerning the ins and outs of the game.

Rodriguez’s notion of baseball's four facets are offense, defense, pitching and base running. The Yankees have failed to provide any consistency in these areas and have yet to put together a single game in which they excelled in all four.

Tuesday, April 14, 2015

Yankees will be patient with Stephen Drew

Whether fans like it or not, the New York Yankees will be patient with Stephen Drew. He gave everyone a reason to exhale and deliberate on his status with the club after a pinch-hit grand slam in Monday night’s 6-5 victory over the Baltimore Orioles.

Stephen Drew
Photo courtesy of Keith Allison via Flickr.
Drew is much maligned after putting together what was one of the worst seasons in Major League Baseball history in 2014. He held out for a better contract last offseason after being slapped with a qualifying offer from the Boston Red Sox. Suitors bypassed Drew and eventually he re-signed with Boston and began playing in June. Missing Spring Training was a certain detriment to his offensive skill set and he began losing playing time.

Drew was eventually traded to the Yankees and was not given much of a chance to play consistently as his struggles simply moved down the coast. Besides the offensive downturn, Drew was also being asked to play an entirely new position, second base. Drew ended the season with a slash line that could drive a player out of baseball – .162/.267/.299 in 300 plate appearances.

But, Drew has a track record, one which does not spell out superstar, but rather maintains respectable offensive numbers for a middle infielder. After the 2013 season, in which Drew was an important component to the Red Sox World Series championship team, the 32-year-old carried a .264/.329/.435 line in just under 4,000 plate appearances. He owned 162-game averages of 17 home runs and 72 RBI. He hit .253/.333/.433 for the Red Sox with 13 homers and 67 RBI in 2013 which is darn close to those averages.

Monday, April 13, 2015

Yankees remain a mystery one week into season

The New York Yankees have completed their first week of the regular season and the results have been inconsistent to say the least. Their 2-4 record puts them in last place in the American League East as they begin a 10-game road trip Monday.

There is just as much evidence pointing to that being a good reflection of the club’s future as there is that the record is an aberration.

The Yankees began the season with several question marks, none of which could be answered in a week, but we can investigate where they are heading at the present time.

Saturday, April 11, 2015

The numbers inside 19-inning Yankees/Red Sox game

The New York Yankees and the Boston Red Sox began the first game of their three-game series in the Bronx just after 7 p.m. EST and over seven hours later the visitors hung on to a 6-5 victory.

The game had a little bit of everything you could imagine in the course of 19 innings – good pitching, timely hitting, errors, misplays, bad base-running, lighting issues, terrible home plate officiating, game-tying homers, elation and anguish.

Let’s break down what went down with a tribute to the numbers 1-19:

Friday, April 10, 2015

Defensive shifts hurting Yankees’ defense too

The New York Yankees lost 6-3 to the Toronto Blue Jays Thursday, as a four-run second inning by the visitors proved too much to overcome. CC Sabathia pitched in his first game since last May and while the score indicates otherwise, his performance leaves me with some optimism for the remainder of the season where it concerns the big lefty.

What’s troubling, besides an anemic offense which we’ll get to later, is the Yankees unrelenting and unhelpful deployment of the defensive shift. We’ve seen firsthand how the shift can eliminate plenty of hits with Mark Teixeira and Brian McCann drilling ball after ball into it. However, when the Yankees put the shift on it doesn’t seem to work as often as it's beaten.

There are a number of reasons why this could be the case. One, it could be fluky, where the number of data points are still too small to pass complete judgment. Another possibility is the Yankees infielders are not exactly in the right position for the batter. The analytics provide teams a spotted view of where most of the player’s batted balls land, but there has to be someone showing the fielder where it is best to play and more importantly the player has to be in the right position knowing his range. Finally, the potential exists that the Yankees are employing the shift against too many players.

Thursday, April 9, 2015

A little luck could go a long way for Yankees

The New York Yankees received a good deal of luck and some help from the Toronto Blue Jays Wednesday night to earn their first victory of the season. The Yankees rallied from a 3-1 deficit with three runs in the bottom of the eighth inning with just one hard hit ball. In fact, their bodies were hit as many times as they received hits in the inning.

The 4-3 win was certainly not pretty, but in the standings they all look the same and over the course of 162 games, teams that reach the postseason need to rack up a good number of these types of victories. It seems the Yankees have not had many "lucky" wins the last two seasons, so getting one under their belt this early on is surely welcomed.

It wasn’t all luck last night. Michael Pineda was sharp in six innings of two-run ball. He allowed six hits, struck out six and walked just one hitter. Pineda threw 96 pitches (62 strikes), indicating he is just about fully stretched out.

Tuesday, April 7, 2015

Thoughts after Yankees' Opening Day loss

A day off after Opening Day takes a little bit of the luster away from the new season beginning, but the New York Yankees have plenty to think about Tuesday after Monday’s loss to the Toronto Blue Jays.

The Yanks are back at it Wednesday evening with Michael Pineda on the mound. Pineda, and Monday’s loser Masahiro Tanaka, can serve the Yankees well this season by making 30 starts apiece, something not many expect to happen.

Pineda looked magnificent this spring and the club hopes that carries over into his first start of the season. Tanaka and Pineda can feed off each other’s success, pushing to be heralded as the ace of the staff.

While Tanaka got the Opening Day start, it is Pineda who might become the leader of this group of pitchers, simply because he seems to be the only one who is not working on his repertoire. Tanaka, CC Sabathia, Nathan Eovaldi and Adam Warren are all dealing with how to best attack hitters; either by working on new pitches or trying to regain control of others. Pineda has his plan set and it was working just about all of last season and during Spring Training.

Is this the same offense?

Monday, April 6, 2015

Tanaka inconsistent as Yankees lose opener

The New York Yankees lost their home opener Monday afternoon to the Toronto Blue Jays, 6-1. Masahiro Tanaka lasted just four innings, allowing five runs (four earned), suffering from inconsistent location.

Tanaka worked two spotless innings to begin the game, in which his offspeed pitches seemed mostly crisp and featured a fastball hovering in the low 90s. But, in the third inning Tanaka ran into control problems and could not work out of them.

Tanaka allowed five hits, including a two-run homer to Edwin Encarnacion, walked two and struck out six. He threw 50 of his 82 pitches for strikes.

2015 Yankees begin season as underdogs

Beyond health and bounce-back seasons, Yanks must demonstrate will to win

It has been 190 days since the New York Yankees played a game that counts in the standings, and honestly longer if you consider how the 2014 season ended much earlier than the official last game. The Bombers will step onto the field Monday afternoon for the seventh Opening Day at Yankee Stadium III with Masahiro Tanaka taking the hill against the Toronto Blue Jays.

Masahiro Tanaka
Photo courtesy of Keith Allison
via Flickr.
In many ways, there is a different vibe about the Yankees this season than in years past. While they have been designated as an old team for many years (a label they are working to shed), they had been able to stay above the fray in the American League. But, the last two seasons they missed the postseason and this year many pundits have them finishing well out of the playoff picture.

It seems the only people who believe this club has an opportunity to be successful (meaning at minimum a playoff berth) are the members of organization. My prediction is more optimistic than most, but there is no guarantee in my language that the Yanks can return to the postseason in 2015.

Saturday, April 4, 2015

The ultimate 2015 New York Yankees preview

The 2015 New York Yankees are just two days away from stepping foot in Yankee Stadium for Opening Day. Now that virtually all of the roster spots have been decided, I’m ready to provide my expectations for the upcoming season. Throughout February and part of March, I profiles players individually and through clustered posts which you can find listed here.

For this article, I’ll run down my perception of the club in the following categories; position players, rotation, bullpen, bench, prospects, coaching staff and management/ownership. I’ll wrap up the piece with my estimate for the Yankees’ final record of the season. Buckle up!

Thursday, April 2, 2015

Timing is not right for Yankees’ Refsnyder

As the New York Yankees enter the 2015 season with less than stellar expectations from analysts, it is going to be one of those seasons in which fans clamor for the young players to take over in the Bronx. In fact, it has already started.

Brendan Ryan, who admittedly has not been very high on my must-roster list, was injured in Wednesdays' game against the Tampa Bay Rays. He has been diagnosed with a grade-two strain of his right calf. Ryan, who seems to be a fairly brittle man, is expected to start the season on the disabled list.

Unfortunately for the Yankees, they do not have a tailor-made option available to back up shortstop on the roster. While Jose Pirela would have been an easy fallback option for the utility role, he's still recuperating from a concussion suffered well over a week ago. Pirela was having an excellent spring before the injury and would have likely slid right into the spot vacated by Ryan.

Even then, Pirela does not play shortstop, so if Didi Gregorius was to come down with an injury, it would require sliding Stephen Drew over from second and it does not seem like the Yankees want that to be their first choice. So, who did fans instantly think was going to come to the Yankees aid?