Thursday, July 31, 2014

Crazy Trade deadline day sees the Yankees get better

Martin Prado

Stephen Drew
The Trade deadline was pretty crazy today with some blockbuster moves happening, namely the A's acquiring John Lester from the Red Sox for Yoenis Cespedes and the Tigers getting David Price in a three team deal. The Red Sox were particularly busy today as they also sent John Lackey to St. Louis for Allen Craig and Joe Kelly, and most importantly they sent Stephen Drew to the Yankees in exchange for Kelly Johnson. The Drew trade was the first trade that the Yankees and Red Sox have made since 1997 and I would expect that the Yankees will try and sign him to an extension so that he can be their Shortstop next season, but they will probably wait and see how he does in the Bronx based on his terrible season so far in Boston.
The Yankees also acquired Martin Prado from the Arizona Diamondbacks for slugging 1st base prospect Peter O'Brien, Prado is under control for the next two seasons and is a very versatile player having played at every position except catcher and Center field, he also adds a much needed right handed bat. I know fans will be disappointed that O'Brien was traded because of his 31 homers but really that is all O'Brien is, he has no real position, doesn't walk, doesn't hit for average but he does have a lot of power so selling high on him is a good thing. Their is a funny thing here that Prado will likely be the regular right fielder but he has only played two innings in Right Field although he has played over 2000 innings in left field so the transition shouldn't be too big of a change. Next season the Yankees will have the ability to play Prado at either 3rd, 2nd or in RF depending on their need and I expect that he will backup 1st base as well. In order to make room for Prado the Yankees DFA Brian Roberts who had been their starting second baseman and has been terrible offensively and defensively. The Yankees also claimed RHP Esmil Rogers off waivers from the Blue Jays and he will join the bullpen, but no word on who he will replace but it will probably be either Chase Whitely or David Huff. 
Despite fan complaints Brian Cashman has been very good this season in terms of trades trading
Nuno/Solarte/De Paula/Johnson/O'Brien for McCarthy/Headley/Drew/Prado which is a great haul for the Yankees and while the rotation was not improved Michael Pineda starts his rehab assignment on Sunday and hopefully we can get some good news about Masahiro Tanaka as well.

Sunday, July 6, 2014

Yankees shuffle roster with Nuno trade and Soriano DFA

After missing out on Jeff Samardzija the Yankees traded Vidal Nuno for Brandon McCarthy in hopes of getting some more innings out of there rotation, McCarthy has pitched poorly in Arizona with a 5.01 ERA in 18 starts but the Yankees are hoping that he can turn it around in New York but he will likely be better simply because he can throw a lot of innings and this team needs an innings eater. The Yankees also designated Alfonso Soriano for assignment, this was only a matter of time as Soriano had followed up his monstrous half season with the Yankees last year by hitting .221/.244/.367 with six homers over 238 PA. I don't expect that Soriano will be claimed on waivers as he is still owed a good chuck of money even with the Cubs paying a large part of his salary, but he can sign with any team after he clears waivers. The Yankees called up RHP Bruce Billings as the bullpen has been very taxed the last few games and its expected that RHP Shane Greene will come up tomorrow to start in Cleveland. After the pitching staff gets settled the Yankees will call up another position player and it will probably be one of Zoilo Almonte, Yangervis Solarte or Jose Pierela. If the Yankees hope to contend then these cannot be the only moves they make but honestly the team would need to see some improvement before making bigger moves.

Thursday, June 12, 2014

Happy 40th Birthday Hideki Matsui!

Godzilla turns 40 today and its now been five years since he was the world series MVP in 2009. He will be in this years old timers game, along with Johnny Damon. I had a post about Matsui when he announced his retirement and from his actual retirement ceremony as a Yankee last season, it was a great career for Hideki and I do not know if I will ever love a player like I did Matsui.

Wednesday, June 11, 2014

Connecticut in the 2014 draft

There were 23 players picked in the MLB draft from Connecticut this year and I am particularly pleased because two were picked by the Yankees  and two were picked from my alma matter Central Connecticut State University. For Central its the first  MLB draft picks since Evan Scribner was picked in 2007, so congratulations to J.P Sportman who was picked in the 27th by the Athletics and Nick Neumann who was picked in the 28th by the Pirates, best of luck to both of them. The Yankees two Nutmeg draft picks are RHP Austin DeCarr and 3rd baseman Will Toffey, The Yankees already signed Austin DeCarr for double his slot money so he takes home $1,170,200, which is good for him, but apretly Toffey will be a tougher sign as he is committed to Vanderbilt and it might be hard to pry him away with 23rd round money; fun note though both of these guys go to the same High school, Salisbury School.
DeCarr. (@Xaverian_Hawks)
 Austin DeCarr was the Yankees third round draft pick and because they took Jacob Lindgren in the second round, who is more of a relief arm that could have a quick impact and had no first round pick DeCarr is the Yankees highest drafted true prospect which is a bit of a letdown after last year in which they had three first round picks, its nothing  against DeCarr he is a good pitching prospect but when the first prospect you are drafting is in the third round then its probbaly not the best draft for the Yankees. I really do not know anything about draft prospects but describes DeCarr with "He'll pitch at 92-93 mph, but can reach back for 95 mph when he needs it. His curveball shows flashes of being a plus offering, and his changeup gives him the chance to have a very effective three-pitch mix." Its also apparently only his second year as a full time baseball player but is apparently more polished than some other High schoolers, which may have something to do with the fact that he isn't actually a high schooler because he only went to Salisbury academy as a post graduate because he did not get drafted last year and is now 19, still a good prospect just kind of a weird not high school or college guy, so still technically a high school guy. Honestly though I am excited to see what this guy can do.
DeCarr was actually the second Nutmeger drafted, although he is really from Massachusetts but we will take him nonetheless,  Sean Newcomb was taken 15th overall by the Angels and is a junior at the University of Hartford and I wish him the best of luck on behalf of all Nutmegers. Best of luck to all of the Nutmegers who got drafted, you can see the full list here.

Tuesday, May 27, 2014

Weird Predictions 50 games in!

At the beginning of the season Brooke, Chris and I all came up with some odd prediction ideas instead of the normal home run leader and such predictions. Here is what we came up with based on absolutely nothing.

7th inning doublesAlfonso SorianoBrendan RyanBrett Gardner
Non-Nunez ErrorsKelly JohnsonBrendan RyanCarlos Beltran
Batters hitMichael PinedaDellin BetancesHiroki Kuroda
HBPKelly JohnsonFrancisco CervelliBrian McCann

As of right now the Yankees have played fifty games and we have our leaders for all the categories
7th Inning doubles: Ichiro Suzuki 2
 That's right Ichiro leads the team with two doubles in the 7th inning and six players are tied for second with one, including Alfonso Soriano so I guess that means Nick is winning that category.

Non-Nunez Errors: Brian Roberts and Mark Teixeira 5
Non-nunez errors became a moot point as Nunez was traded to the Twins, but Johnson, Ryan and Beltran all have errors so they can defiently still catch up to Tex and Roberts.

Batters hit: CC Sabathia 4
CC was a surprise as the leader here as he hit four batters all last season, but he could easily lose the lead as he is currently on the disabled list, but of our predictions only Kuroda has actually hit a batter and he hit one so it will take some work.

HBP: Brian McCann and Mark Teixeira 3
fun fact Tex should actually be leading this with four but Tex was ruled to have swung at a pitch that hit him even though he obviously didn't, but you can't review that. So here is the only category where someone has the correct pick with Chris picking McCann.

So as of right now Chris leads with one correct answer. Update in fifty games, im sure you will all be keeping track.

Tuesday, May 20, 2014

The legend of Yangervis

Yangervis in action
The last two season Yangervis Solarte was one of the better hitters on the Texas Rangers AAA team, The Round Rock Express, but he did play in the PCL which is a league known for inflating offensive numbers and was not someone that would be considered a potential contributing big league player, keep in mind that his offense in AAA was something new as he had spent the previous seven years in the Twins organization not hitting, this is a guy who only signed with an agent because his uncle Rodger Cedeno asked his own agent to do so as a favor.  Which is why when the Yankees signed him to a minor league deal, nobody gave him any consideration as he looked like one of the many players that's brought in who had no shot of making the team. However Eduardo Nunez had dreadful spring, Brendan Ryan was hurt and so Solarte's great spring earned him a spot on the opening day team and he carried over his hot spring to a great start to the season and now its the middle of May and he still has not stopped hitting, in fact he is second in the American league right now in batting average.
On top of that Solarte is helping out in the field as he has played second base, third and even a little short stop and while he is not what you would ever call a good fielder, he inst a bad one either and his versatility really helps the team. In many ways I think that Yangervis is the player that the Yankees wanted Eduardo Nunez to become, a high contact infielder who doesn't hurt the team with his defense. The real problem for everyone is how Solarte just came out of nowhere and has been such a success, but I think we as fans are waiting for for bubble to burst; Solarte has been so successful and so out of nowhere that we don't believe it. Personally I have trouble believing it, he was 0-11 coming into the second game of the double header this weekend  and that doubt started creeping into my mind and then he went 2-4 with a clutch home run that was no Yankee Stadium special. If Solarte had been a prospect then Yankees fans would be ecstatic and not stop talking about this guy, but he really has not gotten much media attention despite his great play, really the Yankees have two Rookie of the year candidates on their roster right now in Solarte and Tanaka. Solarte has been a godsend for the Yankees as he has been able to be an everyday infielder for them on this team and turned the infield into a place where they must upgrade before the end of may into lets find a player who is better than Brian Roberts or Kelly Johnson before the trade deadline.
The thing everyone was watching Solarte for was his high BABIP to start the year and his .313 BA is supported by a .322 BABIP, but thats not so far out of the range of possibilities to be true and really we have no data to really know what Solarte should be doing and none of his batted ball numbers really jump out as way to good to keep going, his line drive percentage are right around league average and his ground ball percentage of 41% is a little better than the league average of 44%, obviously these numbers could change quickly but they are pretty exactly where we would expect this type of hitter to be at. Solarte's good line drive rate and low ground ball rate do help us believe that his numbers aren't just ground balls getting through but are coming from solid contact and if you have watched any of his game you would see that for yourself.
Another factor that some thought would hurt Yangervis is that often with guys first coming up they see a lot of fastballs but then teams start to adjust and diversify the pitches they throw the hitter and the hitter will regress, many people thought this would happen to Yangervis but now its May and he is still hitting, in fact according to fangraphs he has hit Sliders better than any other pitch and other non-fastball pitches haven't slowed him down much either.
There is also the fact that Solarte has been very good in terms of his walks and strikeouts, he currently sits at exactly 17 walks and 17 strikeouts which works out to 11% for each which is the lowest strikeout rate for anyone on the team with at least 100 Plate appearances and second in walk rate behind Mark Teixeira, although Yangervis is actually ahead of Teixeira in total number of walks due to Mark missing some time. His walk rate shows that he is not a hacker going up there and just getting lucky by putting the first pitch into play, he is showing plate discipline seeing 3.89 pitches per plate appearance which would rank him 4th on the team behind Gardner, Ellsbury and McCann. But we are still not believing this and it fells like Yangervis has really gotten very little press outside of New York and really not much local coverage either.
At this point we still don't know what Yangervis Solarte is, is he a flash in the pan or is he a legitimate big league contributed, at this point I don't know and I really don't think anyone really does but when I see him hit a home run like this:

I really think "maybe this guy can make it work, after all he wouldnt be the first guy to break into the big leagues as a solid player at age 26; Dan Uggla did it with the Marlins in 2006 after being taken in the rule 5 draft from the Diamondbacks and while he has been bad these last two years in Atlanta he was a very solid player for the previous seven seasons in Atlanta and Florida averaging around three Wins above replacement in each season, the Yankees would take that production from Yangervis in a second and they also have the versatility to acquire another infielder as they can easily play Yangervis at either Second or Third base. At this point even if Yangervis stopped hitting altogether, the Yankees have already gotten more production out of him then they would have dreamed of back when they first signed him and everything after this is just addign to the legend that is Yangervis.

Friday, May 9, 2014

Keep Alfredo Aceves in the pen

Alfredo Aceves
Last Sundays game against the Rays was not a good one as CC Sabathia had another poor outing in only three and two thirds innings and then in came Alfredo Aceves who wound up pitching the rest of the game and only gave up three hits and no runs. This caused some people to clamor for Aceves to be in the rotation based on that performance. I am here to tell everyone to hold off on that for now, because Aceves might be of more value where he is.

Alfredo Aceves was with the Yankees from 2008  through 2010, during his time with the team though he served as a versatile pitcher, starting several games, coming in for high leverage innings and doing that odd piggyback starter thing that the Yankees did with Joba Chamberlain where Joba would pitch 3-4 inning and then Aceves would come in for about the same. After the 2010 season  he was non tendered by the team after missing most of the season with a back injury of which the Yankees did not think he would come back from. Some fans were upset about this, including myself, especially when Aceves  ended up signing with Red Sox and pitched well  for them in 2011 with a 2.61 ERA over 114 innings, mostly as a reliever but with a few starts. The next two seasons did not go as well with Aceves pitching poorly in both the bullpen and the Red Sox rotation, he ended up being demoted to the minors last season and then cut him after the, he was with Orioles in spring training before opting out and then signing a minor league deal with the Yankees. Its easy to think that these five inning wipe away what has really been poor pitching the previous two season but lets be real, its very possible that his pitching on Sunday was a complete and total fluke. It would not be the first time a pitcher came in an d pitched well in a small sample size, I remember Lance Pendelton has a three inning relief debut a few years ago in which he was perfect and people were wondering if he could be something and he wasn't, he was just a nondescript reliever who the Rangers made look very good in one game.
I really hope that Aceves outing is a sign that Aceves can be effective in the future but for now I think the best place to keep him is in the bullpen as the Yankees really need someone effective in the back-end of their bullpen as the Chris Leroux and Bruce Billings of the bullpen have not just been bad, they have been astoundingly awful and while that may seem like a pretty minor but the complete meltdown of the bullpen in many of these games has turned a deficit into a complete blowout and squashed any chance that the Yankees had to come back in these games.Aceves looks like he could the guy that they need who can come out of the bullpen and give the team some length and be effective.

The other factor in this is a very simple one, Alfredo Aceves has been better as a reliever than as a starter.

The ERA isn't too different between starting and reliving, but the big one for me is his strikeout to walk ratio, as a reliever its 2.76 SO/W in 288.2 innings while as a starter its an even 42 walks to 42 strikeouts and this is over 15 starts. Everything about Aceves's numbers says that he is better as a reliever than as a starter  4.29 ERA as a starter, compared to  3.46 as a reliever and the Yankees already have some mediocre pitchers in their rotation, would Aceves really be any better? I personally doubt that he would be any upgrade over Nuno or Phelps right now, however he would probably be my top choice if the Yankees needed another starter but lets hope they do not need one anytime soon. Fortunetly it does appear as though the Yankees have any