Monday, March 28, 2016

Quick Pitch: Yankees’ roster battles become clearer

The long slog toward Opening Day is almost over for the New York Yankees and as such the roster is rounding into form. The Yankees still have final decisions to make, but the participants in competitions are dwindling.

Logo: SportsLogos.net

Backup Catcher


Gary Sanchez lost his chance to break camp last week after showing signs of needing more work, and the fact that his service time clock was an issue, the move makes absolute sense. Austin Romine and Carlos Corporan remain in camp, with the former likely the favorite to back up Brian McCann to start the season.

Utility Infielder


Rob Refsnyder was giving every opportunity to show he could handle third base, and then took two bad-hop bouncers to the face across two straight games. He needs more work there and the Yankees are going to give it to him at Triple-A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre. Refsnyder might be disappointed, but he should be happy the Yanks see enough in him to want to continue the experiment. Plain and simple, he cannot and would not get regular reps at third base in New York while he can at Triple-A.

Ronald Torreyes and Pete Kozma are the players left at Yankees camp. I would rather see Torreyes given the job of the two simply because he might have a little more bat in him than Kozma. Both players are able to play second, short and third base which is exactly what the club needs. There is of course a chance that the Yankees make a late spring move to bring in a player who they feel is comfortable playing those positions.

Monday, March 21, 2016

Quick Pitch: Yankees deal with Ellsbury injury, Nova regression

The New York Yankees ran their spring training record to 8-9-2 with two wins this weekend, but not all the news was rosy.

Jacoby Ellsbury was hit on the right wrist Saturday which will keep him out of action until at least Thursday according to MLB.com’s Bryan Hoch. Ellsbury had X-rays and a CT scan which both showed no fractures. With two weeks left until the start of the regular season Ellsbury should have enough time to be ready for Opening Day.

Jacoby Ellsbury
Photo: Keith Allison
If Ellsbury doesn’t heel quickly enough, or if the Yankees botch another handling of X-rays/scans and there is something more coming, Aaron Hicks will take over center field according to manager Joe Girardi. As I mentioned at SNY Saturday, Hicks taking over center field makes sense because he’s a better fielder now than Brett Gardner, and it allows Gardner to stick in a stable situation in left field. Hicks was traded for to fill any vacancy that pops up in the outfield, so when one of the starters goes down, Hicks slides into their place.

Saturday, March 19, 2016

Quick Pitch: Yankees' Sabathia not helping own cause

Spring Training Game 17: Orioles 11, Yankees 2 (Yanks' spring record: 6-9-2)

CC Sabathia
Photo: Keith Allison
The New York Yankees have six starters for five spots. Manager Joe Girardi has been adamant that the "best five" will be in the rotation with the sixth being relegated to the bullpen. CC Sabathia has had the worst spring of the six thus far, yet until I hear it from the horse's mouth, I won't believe the club will shift the 35-year-old veteran to the bullpen.

Forget the money (though it's an unavoidable hitch), forget the humility, think about what the club needs right now. The fifth starter on any team is a crapshoot. They'll have good games, but likely more bad over the course of season.

Sabathia's start Friday night was a microcosm of that type of performance. He was shelled early allowing four runs in the first inning including a home run. Then he settled down and didn't allow another earned run the rest of his stint (he allowed three more runs, but was undone by an error by third baseman Rob Refsnyder).

So, let's look at this way, is Sabathia better in a starter role every fifth day than Ivan Nova? Or is Sabathia going to provide more assistance to the bullpen?

Friday, March 18, 2016

Quick Pitch: Tanaka, Severino and Refsnyder

Spring Training Game 16: Yankees 7, Pirates 2 (Yanks' spring record: 6-8-2)

Luis Severino
Photo: Arturo Pardavila III
The New York Yankees presumed Opening Day starter, Masahiro Tanaka, endured his first rough outing of the spring, while future ace in the making, Luis Severino sparkled once again in Thursday’s matinee.

Tanaka opened the spring with a five scoreless innings, but he threw 57 pitches in just two innings and allowed two runs on four hits Thursday, including a home run to Andrew McCutchen. Severino looked rusty in his first start of the spring (five earned runs), but has now made three straight scoreless appearances since (10 2/3 innings) with 12 strikeouts and zero walks.

Sticking to the “it’s-too-early-to-tell” mantra, we are talking about seven total innings of work for Tanaka and 12 for Severino. Tanaka has stated he has been disappointed in his fastball the past two starts and seems to understand that things need to get better quickly since he has just three starts left before Opening Day.

Thursday, March 17, 2016

Quick Pitch: Gardner returns to Yankees

Spring Training Game 15: Blue Jays 1, Yankees 2 (Yanks Spring Record: 5-8-2)

Brett Gardner
Photo: Keith Allison
The New York Yankees are not worried about wins and losses in spring training, but rather being whole when they head north from Tampa. They got a step closer to reaching that goal as outfielder Brett Gardner made his first appearance in a game this spring.

Gardner went 0-for-2, grounding out and striking out, looking understandably rusty at the plate. Gardner was taking it easy in the spring due to a wrist injury he suffered in last season's wild card game while catching a ball and falling into the outfield wall.

Gardner will not play again until Friday as Yankees manager Joe Girardi noted during the game telecast that there is no need to rush him back with over two weeks left in spring training. It's reasonable to believe that Gardner will start to play in back to back games by the end of next week and get full games in by beginning of the following week. Gardner can still get 40-50 plate appearances before the regular season opener on April 4.

Castro impressing at plate


Starlin Castro is making his transition to the Yankees look quite easy. Of course it is spring training, but Castro has shown there is plenty of life in his bat thus far. Castro's two-run homer Monday night was the Yankees lone run support and his 1-for-2 performance lifted his spring average to .429. Besides Castro's offensive output, he has been solid at second base. Losing Adam Warren was tough for the Yankees, but there is a chance they found a gem in Castro.

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 The Cauldron via Sports Illustrated, 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, March 16, 2016

Quick Pitch: Nova, Mitchell might provide more value to Yankees' pen

Spring Training Game 14: Yankees 6, Red Sox 3 (Yanks spring record: 4-8-2)

New York Yankees right-handers Ivan Nova and Bryan Mitchell combined for seven innings of one-run ball allowing just four hits and one walk against the majority of the Red Sox regular lineup Monday evening.

Ivan Nova
Photo: Keith Allison
Nova, more so than Mitchell, is being considered for a rotation spot this spring. Nova’s main competition seems to be CC Sabathia, and Yankees manager Joe Girardi has stated numerous times there are no locks for rotation spots. He claims he’s taking the best pitchers north.

It’s hard to believe if Sabathia is healthy that he doesn’t grab the fifth spot especially considering the amount of money he’ll be earning. If the rest of the starting staff is also healthy, Nova will be relegated to the bullpen and I’m beginning to feel this is not a bad thing.

Anyone who reads my work on a regular basis knows I’m not a big fan of Nova. I believe he has potential, but he’s shown to be incredibly streaky and even when he is going good there are arguments that he’s perfected the smoke and mirrors act. It stands to reason that with five healthy starters, Nova would become the long man in the bullpen and it makes sense because he can eat innings when necessary. I’ve got another idea, one which the Yankees may be forced to embrace.

Monday, March 14, 2016

Quick Pitch: Yankees’ Sabathia continues lengthy transition

Spring Training Game 13: Phillies 3, Yankees 0 (Record: 3-8-2)

#StillTransitioningAfterAllTheseYears


I’m baffled by New York Yankees left-hander CC Sabathia’s comment to YES Network reporter Jack Curry after Sunday’s ugly start in which he said he’s working on his transition. Sabathia’s transformation has been going on for a few years now; but it’s just now dawning on him that he has to make it work?

I know that Sabathia has acknowledged in the past that he’s not the same pitcher (one with a power fastball), but was he just saying that because that’s what he thought we wanted to hear? Maybe he’s been stubborn up to this time; feeling that he could get by with an 88-mph fastball and mediocre offspeed stuff? It’s evident that if he doesn’t have great location and his pitches have little-to-no movement he’ll have a hard time winning ballgames.

I’ve stated that I feel Sabathia can make the transition recently at SNY. My thought is that Sabathia was held back emotionally and physically in recent years. Sabathia has gone through rehab for alcoholism (maybe it was a problem all this time) and is wearing a protective knee brace to aid his delivery; it's possible both ailments affected his confidence. Now it’s up to him to perfect the pitches. If he cannot, it’s going to cost the Yankees another $50 million for next to no production.

Sunday, March 13, 2016

Quick Pitch: Yankees' Severino rounding into form

Spring Training Game 12: Blue Jays 1, Yankees 2 (Record: 3-7-2)

At 22 years old, no one should expect Luis Severino to be great every time he takes the mound, but was pretty darn good Saturday afternoon against the Tampa Bay Rays. Severino hurled 3 2/3 innings of four-hit ball without allowing a run. Severino struck out four batters and walked none while locating 43 of his 59 pitches for strikes.

Yankees manager Joe Girardi was pleased with the effort.

"He looked good, really good," Girardi said according to MLB.com’s Michael Kolligian. "That's what you want to see out of him; he threw all his pitches, controlled innings for the most part. Velocity was great. Slider was good today, his changeup, he threw a couple good ones."

Many fans want Severino to take the leap from rookie to ace despite having just over 60 innings of major league ball under his belt. I believe it’s an unfair burden. Severino will be good, maybe even very good but we should expect there to be some blips on the radar as the season progresses. What’s more, the Yankees don’t need him to be an ace this season. The status will come, with time. #SevyWillBeAceSomeday

Saturday, March 12, 2016

Quick Pitch: Tanaka, Shreve shine for Yankees

Spring Training Game 11: Orioles 1, Yankees 7 (Record: 3-6-2)

It’s early, but Masahiro Tanaka is settling some concerns the New York Yankees might have had after the right-hander had surgery to remove a bone spur following last season’s 24-start effort.

Masahiro Tanaka
Photo credit: Keith Allison
Tanaka has now tossed five scoreless innings this spring after a three-inning stint Friday. Tanaka allowed one hit, hit a batter and struck out three hitters. Tanaka also generated five ground ball outs and allowed just one fly ball, which is good news for a guy who frankly allows more homers than one would like. Granted, the Orioles sent a minor league squad to Tampa, but as I watched Tanaka throw, I thought the major league regulars would not have had much success either. Tanaka threw 30 of his 40 pitches for strikes and Brian McCann liked what he saw.

"He's in total control of what he's doing, and I just go off of him," McCann said according to Bryan Hoch at MLB.com. "He's throwing the ball great, he's moving around great. He doesn't seem to have any problems. I think he feels really good."

Tanaka wants to pitch 200 innings this season, and if he can manage it, I suspect he’ll compile the type of numbers that warrant his $22 million salary — 18 W, 210 K, 2.85 ERA — #TanakaTime.

Friday, March 11, 2016

Quick Pitch: Yankees Spring Training Games 9 & 10

The New York Yankees had their first day of split-squad games Thursday with plenty of developments coming from each game.

Note: Most of my feature work and all rapid reactions to breaking news will continue to be written for SNY. In order to keep Yankees Unscripted filled with fresh content, I’ve developed Quick Pitch which will be a game/news recap from the previous day written in swift, informative, opinionated and sometimes snarky fashion sticking to the Yankees Unscripted motto to "avoid the narrative." This will not be a traditional recap (Ellsbury singled, Gardner doubled and Teixeira homered to give the Yankees a 3-0 lead), you can get that from the beat writers. I hope to get Quick Pitch up daily, but if I don’t I’ll rewind to the previous Quick Pitch post. Thanks as always for reading.


Game 9: Blue Jays 11, Yankees 4


At home, Nathan Eovaldi tossed two solid innings in his first start of the spring. Eovaldi was able to dial it up to 99 mph with his fastball and his offspeed offerings looked good as well. We'll see how he feels Monday before getting too excited.

Andrew Miller allowed two runs on four loud singles. Miller did strike out two batters, so take the hits as a part of getting ready for the season.

Thursday, March 10, 2016

As Yankees' Chapman takes the field how will fans react?

New York Yankees closer Aroldis Chapman made a mistake; a terrible one that will deservedly follow him for the rest of his life. He’s been suspended 30 games by Major League Baseball for his involvement in a domestic violence incident with his girlfriend, who is also the mother of his child. He steps on the mound in a game for the first time Thursday. What type of reaction will he receive, and is there a correct one?

Aroldis Chapman
Photo credit: Keith Allison
Chapman might have physically harmed his girlfriend (he continually denies it), but at the very least he intimidated her by retreating to his garage with his gun in hand and proceeded to fire eight rounds into it. The gunfire he admitted to, and apologized for, but I do wish Chapman understood that his action in the garage, while his girlfriend frighteningly hid in the bushes and his child was in the house, is abuse in and of itself. He doesn’t, but hopefully he can learn from his indiscretions as he moves on.

Obviously not being a woman, I cannot fully understand what any female (whether abused in the past or not) feels about this situation. I’ve never had to intimately deal with this type of circumstance. Women are well within their rights to resent Chapman and to protest his presence on a baseball diamond. If female fans (or male fans for that matter) choose to boo Chapman and hold up signs admonishing his actions, so be it, he deserves it. I tell women who want to make life difficult for Chapman by making their voices heard to go for it.

Chapman’s taking the field for the first time cannot and should not overshadow what he did, but at the same time fans ought to be able to cheer for him if they want. I’m talking about baseball fans cheering for the player who is working to help their favorite team win. I’m not speaking about idiots who believe and outwardly suggest that women deserve to be abused in various forms. That’s asinine, and there is no place for that in the game, or in our society.

Monday, March 7, 2016

Yankees weekend news wrap: Ellsbury, Tanaka and Refsnyder

Ellsbury makes spring debut


Jacoby Ellsbury
Photo: Keith Allison
New York Yankees center fielder Jacoby Ellsbury made his first start of the spring Saturday and went 1-for-3 with a triple. The triple showed his legs are underneath him and that’s an important factor for the Yankees.

The Yanks need Ellsbury to not only stay healthy this season, but for him to bounce back after a lackluster 2015 season. It’s always been apparent to me that Ellsbury is at his best when he is 100 percent. He doesn’t play well when dealing with even the slightest bit of ill health. Ellsbury was on a tear before he was injured last season, and then never fully recuperated which adversely affected his performance upon his return and straight through the end of the season.

Ellsbury understands the club needs him to be the ignition for the team’s offense.

“I try and go out there and do the best job I can possibly do,” said Ellsbury as reported by the New York Post’s George A. King III. “It’s a team game but it helps when everybody goes out there and puts together a very good season. It’s only going to help the team to get to where we want to be.”

Friday, March 4, 2016

For Yankees’ Mitchell; starter or swingman, that is the question

New York Yankees right-handed pitcher Bryan Mitchell holds an important key to the club’s success this season. The question is which door will his key unlock; the one for starters, or the one for swingmen?

Mitchell has long been a promising arm in the Yankees system. He spent a good deal of the 2015 season bouncing back and forth between Triple-A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre and the Yankees. He started 15 games with the RailRiders compiling a 3.12 ERA across 75 innings. With the Yankees he made 20 appearances, 18 of them out of the bullpen.

His stints with the Yankees in 2015 proved to be an up and down affair. Before being hit in the face with a line drive August 17, Mitchell had tossed 19.1 innings with a 3.72 ERA. He struck out 20 batters and walked six. He was not electrifying, but he was more or less effective. However, once he returned to the mound after missing nine games recovering from a nasal fracture Mitchell was awful – 10 G, 8.2 IP, 12.46 ERA.

It’s certainly possible the line drive affected his performance, but regardless, he’s in camp with something to prove and this season could be a turning point in Mitchell’s career.

Wednesday, March 2, 2016

Yankees Twitter in midseason form for game one of spring training

The New York Yankees first spring training game of the 2016 season was one of the more entertaining exhibition games I’ve seen, if not the most. I’m not sure if it was the game itself or the game and following #YankeesTwitter.

Here’s my recap with accompanying #Hashtags.

I could tell early on the emotions of Yankees baseball returning was overwhelmingly euphoric for some.

#YankeesOnMyTV

While others simply couldn’t wait to beat down the team.

#CashmanSucks

The Yankees started with a flare courtesy of starting pitcher Luis Severino who set down three Detroit Tigers hitters in a nine-pitch flurry.

#SevyIsYanksAce