Tuesday, January 22, 2019

Anniversaries and Ballots

Today, January 22nd is a big day in the baseball world. It's the day the Baseball Hall of Fame announces the enshrinement class of 2019. The ballots from the Baseball Writers Association of America (BBWAA) have all been tabulated and those players who have garnered a minimum of 75% of the votes will be headed to Cooperstown, NY this summer.

Back to that in one moment, but first...

This past December marked the 13th anniversary of the "My Pinstripes" blog. Once glance will show that I have not done much posting on here over the last few years due to the time I have spent writing for "Bronx Pinstripes".

The plan going forward is to continue to post at My Pinstripes here and there, hopefully in a new WordPress format. Blogger is not what it used to be. And, of course, I will continue at Bronx Pinstripes.

Now back to the ballot.

It didn't take long for controversy to start with this year's voting. One member of the BBWAA revealed that he had left Mariano Rivera off his ballot. He also didn't turn his ballot as to not be the one to keep Rivera from possibly being the first player to be on 100% of the ballots turned in (said writer will not get his name mentioned here since his whole premise was ridiculous).

I've noticed many of the writers voting for Barry Bonds and Roger Clemens, especially the former, but I still do not believe they should have the privilege of entering the Hall.

Fred McGriff must be voted in today or this whole thing is a farce. If not for the 1994 work stoppage, McGriff would have hit 500 home run (he finished with 493) and would have been an automatic to enter.

Mike Mussina won 270 games. It doesn't matter that he has no rings, that he won only 20 games once in his career, etc. He pitched in the toughest division in baseball his entire career. He also would have had that ring if not for Rivera's rare World Series meltdown in the 7th game in 2001.

Andy Pettitte will not get into the Hall because of his admitted PED use. His numbers might have been iffy anyway, but now we'll never know.

Edgar Martinez is one of the best pure hitters of all-time. But, because most of his time was at DH he has been overlooked. That might change this year.

If I had a vote, my ballot would include:
Mariano Rivera (1st time on ballot)
Roy Halladay (1st time on ballot)
Fred McGriff
Mike Mussina
Edgar Martinez
Jeff Kent
Larry Walker
I'm still not sure on Walker, especially since Todd Helton has similar numbers. However, Helton's entire career was spent in hitter-friendly Colorado, while Walker's was not. It will still be tough for Walker to make it since this is his last shot (10th time on ballot) and he only received 34% of the vote last year.

As for Kent, compare his numbers to other second basemen, not just other players and you will see why deserves to be selected.

The announcement will be at 6 pm EST this evening, with the MLB Network talking (way too long) about it beginning at 3 pm EST.

Saturday, October 6, 2018

See the Ball, Hit the Ball

If I had a nickel for every time I said some variation of "What are you looking at?" during a baseball game, I'd be a very wealthy man. I mean like Warren Buffet-wealthy.
The Yankees looked like they were dead in the water last night in Boston. But, down 5-0 to the Red Sox, they began to chip away. But they looked and looked and looked at strikes. And, a lot of the pitches they did swing at met nothing but air.

First, J.A. Happ put them in a hole because the "Red Sox killer" didn't show up. When you have two runners on base and J.D. Martinez up, you cannot fall behind 2-0 in the count. Happ did and Martinez destroyed him for a Green Monster-blast and a 3-0 lead in the 1st inning.

Back to the batters...

Giancarlo Stanton's first playoff experience went well in the Wild Card game but no so much last night. Though earning a Golden Sombrero is quite the accomplishment.

One of Stanton's problems, that which was shared by his teammates, was looking at too many strikes. The problem was then exacerbated by the swing and misses, especially those that were for strike three.

The Yankees struck out 13 times in all and despite all the talk of Chris Sale's diminished velocity, he looked just fine out there.

Gleyer Torres shared in Stanton's misery. Down 5-2 with the bases loaded and two outs, Torres waved at a Brandon Workman 80-mph offspeed pitch and ended up down on one as knee as he whiffed. The at-bat epitomized the night for the Yankees. Opportunity knocked and the Yankees didn't answer the door.

Aaron Judge looked like the only who came to play. He had three hits on the night including a solo home run in the 9th to get the Yankees to within one run of the lead.

Teams these days live and die by home runs and strikeouts, and on-base percentage rather than batting average. However, it helps to have a Mookie Betts on your team. While not every team can have a Betts-type, it helps to have a guy who hits well over .300 and K's less than 100 times. It would help the Yankees A LOT!

Positives were few and far between but Lance Lynn, Zach Britton, and David Robertson combined for four scoreless innings to give the Yankees the chance for a comeback.

Here's to better things for Game 2!

Wednesday, October 3, 2018

Boone second guessed no matter what

In his first game as a postseason manager, Aaron Boone opened himself up to second-guessing with his choice of starting pitcher.

It didn't matter who of the three contenders he picked to start the AL Wild Card game. If the Yankees don't win Wednesday night, Boone will be second-guessed unless it's the bullpen and/or offense that underwhelms.

Luis SeverinoMasahiro Tanaka, and J.A. Happ all have positive attributes and negative marks as to whether or not they should start.

Severino came into the season as the team's bonafide ace and held that position for the first half. He struggled in the second half but has pitched better of late.

He certainly is motivated to make up for his terrible Wild Card performance against the Minnesota Twins last year.

Tanaka is a dynamite pitcher but he serves home runs at Yankee Stadium like he's going to win a free car for each home run allowed.

Happ has been great for the Yankees since his acquisition from Toronto at the non-waiver trade deadline and has solid numbers against most of the A's lineup. His "stuff" is not as dominating as Severino's and perhaps Boone is thinking ahead that left-handers fare better against the Red Sox.

Of course, you first have to get the Division Series, but one would imagine that Boone will have a quick hook if Sevy struggles early. And, Boone will use Green, Betances, Robertson, and Chapman in any way he can.

Sorry, it's been so long since I posted here. My Pinstripes is coming up on its 13th anniversary in December!

Tuesday, November 7, 2017

RIP Doc Halladay

Like so many of you, I was shocked and saddened Tuesday by the sudden death of former Major Leaguer Roy Halladay.  Flashbacks to Thurman Munson and Corey Lidle came to mind when I heard that Halladay was killed while flying his Icon A5 amphibious light aircraft. He was just 40-years old.

Halladay loved flying his plane but something went terribly wrong on Tuesday when he crashed into the Gulf of Mexico. It wasn't immediately clear if any passengers were on board but no other bodies were found.

Halladay was the fiercest of fierce competitors. After a slow start with the Toronto Blue Jays, Halladay began to dominate American League hitters. And, he did it by putting batters away quickly. It's the reason he was able to pitch deep into games on so many occasions (he led baseball in complete games seven times). As Sports Illustrated writer/MLB Network commentator Tom Verducci pointed out, when Halladay put a hitter in an 0-2 hole, he didn't waste a pitch. He aggressively went after the hitter.

He was the type of pitcher that made you say "oh crap" (out loud) when you realized he would be facing your team that night. In 2002, his career began to take off when he led the AL in innings pitched and wins.

The Colorado native had precise control and led the AL and NL a combined five times in strikeout-to-walk ratio. In his 16 years in the bigs, he surrendered less than one home run per nine innings pitched. He was that good.

When the Blue Jays decided it was time to rebuild, Halladay accepted a trade to the Philadelphia Phillies prior to the 2010 season. He merely went out, won 21 games that year, led the NL in complete games and shutouts, and took home his second career Cy Young Award.

The 2010 season was highlighted by a perfect game on May 10 against the Miami Marlins. Then, in his first career postseason appearance, he no-hit the Cincinnati Reds in the Division Series. In doing so, he joined the Yankees' Don Larsen as the only pitchers to throw a no-hitter in the postseason.

A year later, Halladay won 19 games and pitched 233.2 innings. But, then his prized right arm started to get cranky. He pitched for two more years in Philly but made just 13 starts in 2013. He then retired to spend time with his family, flying, and coaching youth baseball.

My thoughts and prayers go out to his wife Brandy and their sons Ryan and Braden.

RIP Doc.

Saturday, May 20, 2017

Get Bobby Murcer his plaque

Today, May 20, would have been Bobby Murcer's 71st birthday. If you follow my blog or other sites that I have written for, you know that Bobby Murcer was my guy growing up. You may also know that there is a special connection because like Bobby, my Mom passed away from brain cancer.

With Derek Jeter obvious entrance into Monument Park, it's time once again for me to make a pitch for a plaque out beyond centerfield.

Click here to read the column I wrote for Bronx Pinstripes last year. And, contact the Yankees front office and tell them to get Bobby a plaque.

Wednesday, May 17, 2017

Derek Jeter is Topps - Commemorate His Big Night

Derek Jeter's.induction into Monument Park on Sunday was the capper on his illustrious Yankees' career. Now, you can own a part of the evening.

Topps has issued special baseball cards to commemorate the night. But, you have to hurry to purchase the six-pack. They are only available from the Topps website until Thursday, May 18, 3:30 EDT.

Below are a couple of samples from the card pack:

Thursday, August 4, 2016

Q & A with Charlie Hayes

Written for Bronx Pinstripes

The past week felt like the “Bizarro Yankees” world. (Thank you Superman and Seinfeld.) For the first time in the Steinbrenner era, the Yankees were big time sellers at the MLB trade deadline.Carlos Beltran, Aroldis Chapman, Andrew Miller, and Ivan Nova were all sent to new homes. Conversely, in 1996, the Yankees were big time buyers on their way to their first championship. One of the players they brought in was a former Yankee, third baseman Charlie Hayes.

One of the lasting memories of the that season was the final out of the World Series. Mark Lemke’s foul pop nestled neatly in Hayes’ glove and he squeezed it tightly for the third and final out in the 9th inning. To help commemorate the 20th anniversary of the 1996 team, I spoke with Charlie Hayes about the ’96 team, his sons, and what the future holds.

Read the rest of this column for free at BronxPinstripes.com.

Monday, December 28, 2015

Yankees Acquire Aroldis Chapman

In a shocker Monday afternoon, the New York Yankees acquired Cincinnati Reds' closer Aroldis Chapman for four prospects. Chapman was close to becoming a Los Angeles Dodger until the Cuban born reliever was accused of physical abuse by his girlfriend. In addition to reportedly choking his significant other and pushing her into a wall, Chapman also fired eight shots in the garage of his Miami-based home. Though police were called, no arrest was made.

The Yankees agreed to send third baseman Eric Jagielo (26th overall pick out of Notre Dame in the 2013 draft), second baseman Tony Renda, and right-handed pitchers Caleb Coltham and Rookie Davis to Cincinatti. Coltham appeared in 12 games for the Yankees this past season.

Chapman is in his third year of arbitration eligibility and can become a free agent for the 2017 season. The four-time All-Star has averaged better than 15 Ks per nine innings over the last four seasons, with a  high of 17.7/9 IP in 2014. His fastball has been clocked as high as 105 mph. Chapman has averaged 36 saves per season over that same stretch.

The move could mean that the Yankees current closer, Andrew Miller, could be used as trade bait. The fellow left-hander signed a four-year, $36MM contract prior to the 2015 season. Miller recorded 36 saves and rang up 100 strikeouts in 61.2 innings.

With Dellin Betances, the Yankees could have a three-headed monster out of the pen and insurance in case Chapman leaves as a free agent. In all likelihood though, Miller will be given his traveling papers in exchange for starting pitching or a solid bat.

Wednesday, November 11, 2015

Yankees Deal Pirela and Murphy, Acquire Hicks

Jose Pirela and John Ryan Murphy are the first Yankees on the move this offseason.

The Yankees swung into action Wednesday eliminating one of the competitors for the 2016 second base job and possibly adding a player that could spell the end of Brett Gardner in Pinstripes.

First, GM Brian Cashman sent second baseman Jose Pirela to the San Diego Padres for pitching prospect Ronald Herrera. Pirela had an excellent 2015 Spring Training and looked poised to head north when the regular season started until a  collision with an outfield wall and the resultant concussion that followed landed him on the disabled list.

Pirela hit .333 in seven games for the Bronx Bombers in 2014, before he appeared in 37 games this past season. He wasn't able to take advantage of his opportunity, with just 17 hits in 74 at-bats and a .558 OPS. His departure could mean the Yankees will go with a platoon of Dustin Ackley and Rob Refsnyder at second base next season

Later Wednesday the Yankees acquired one-time outfield prospect Aaron Hicks from the Minnesota Twins for backup catcher John Ryan Murphy. Hicks was the 14th overall pick in the 2008 MLB Amateur Draft and made his MLB debut in 2013. It's been no picnic at the plate for the 26-year old switch-hitter, although he began to show some promise in the latter part of the 2015 season.

Hicks made a career high 390 plate appearances this past season and produced 11 home runs, 33 RBI and stole 13 bases. He has the opportunity to strengthen the Yankees lineup against left-handers - he produced an .870 OPS against southpaws last season - and will likely replace Chris Young as a fourth outfielder. There have also been rumors that the Yankees might be willing to part with left fielder Brett Gardner for the right price. Gardner has had poor second halves of the season the last two years though new hitting coach Alan Cockrell recently told the media that Gardner played with a wrist injury all season.

The departure of Murphy, who did a solid job (.277/.327/.406) as Brian McCann's backup in 2015, could mean that long-time prospect Gary Sanchez gets a shot at being the #2 catcher next season. Still just 23-years of age, Sanchez has been in the Yankees' farm system since they signed him out of his native Venezuela in 2009. He's had his ups and down at the plate throughout his minor league career, but has been on a tear playing in the Arizona Fall League the past month.

The 20-year old Herrera, himself a native of Venezuela, was originally signed by the Oakland A's before he was acquired by the Padres in 2014. He put up solid numbers for advanced-A ball club Lake Elsinore of the California League - 3.88 ERA, 1.255 WHIP - in 2015 before he struggled in eight starts for Double-A San Antonio. Herrera has a low 90s fastball, a strong curveball and a changeup.

Thursday, October 22, 2015

Mattingly Out in LA

After three straight NL West division titles and two straight division series losses, the Los Angeles Dodgers and manager Don Mattingly are going their separate ways. That news according to CBS Sports' Jon Heyman, who describes the ouster as a "mutual parting of the ways".

Although the higher ups, including primary owner Mark Walter, reportedly supported Mattingly, the team fell well short of expectations. Those expectations were high, though the Dodgers didn't necessarily have the team to meet them.

Mattingly was the first Dodgers manager to win three straight NL West titles. The team didn't make the playoffs in his first two seasons at the helm in 2011-2012. The Dodgers reached the NLCS in 2013, but lost in six games to the St. Louis Cardinals.

The Cardinals eliminated the Dodgers again in 2014, that time in the first round, before the NL pennant winning New York Mets knocked them out of this year's postseason.

Wednesday, August 26, 2015

Carlos Gomez Shouldn't Mess With a Brian McCann Team

Houston Astros outfielder Carlos Gomez has a flair, for shall we say, the dramatic. He plays passionately and that was on display Tuesday night in the Bronx when Gomez hit a routine fly out. The problem was Gomez flipped his bat in doing so, as well as yelled at himself. The problem was the Astros were up 9-0 over the New York Yankees and the Yankees did not want to see or hear Gomez' actions.

So much so that the Yankees bench, Joe Girardi included, began shouting at Gomez, who in turn repeatedly yelled shut up. It wouldn't be a surprise if one of those players involved on the bench was catcher Brian McCann. The Yankees regular backstop had the night off, but he is all too familiar with Gomez' antics.

Case in point - Gomez' Brewers vs. McCann's Braves two years ago. McCann's backup John Ryan Murphy had a few choice words for Gomez as well. You just get the feeling that not too many of Gomez' teammates care for his shtick either.

Thursday, August 13, 2015

Yankees Fly In Bird For More Lumber

In the midst of a five-game losing streak, in which runs have been harder to come by than a late night meal in Cleveland, the Yankees have recalled minor league slugger Greg Bird to add some punch to the lineup. The Yankees had acquired Garrett Jones back in December (along with Thursday night's starter, Nathan Eovaldi) to back up Mark Teixeira at first base as well as play some right field, but Jones was designated for assignment Wednesday for the second time in two weeks.

In addition, to spelling Teixeira, Bird will also get some at-bats at DH when Alex Rodriguez needs a day off. Just as the Yankees called up Luis Severino a little over a week ago to bolster the starting rotation, Bird's recall is an attempt to wake up the suddenly sleepy Yankees bats. New York has lost five straight games, in which they have scored a total of six runs. Four of those runs came in one game and the team has been shut out twice. Combined with the Toronto Blue Jays 10-game winning streak the Yankees have fallen out of first place in the AL East for the first time since July 1. At that time, they moved back into first the very next day. They're hoping that can happen again.

Bird was a fifth round draft choice out of Grandview High School (Aurora, CO) in 2011 and has steadily climbed the Yankees organization ladder. He first made a name for himself when he slugged 20 home runs and drove in 84 runs for the 2012 Charleston RiverDogs ('A'). In addition to hitting .288, he drew 107 walks and had a .938 OPS. He started this season at Double-A Trenton where he put up a .258/.358/.445 slash line with 6 HR and 29 RBI in 182 At-Bats. He's been even better since his promotion to Triple-A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre - a .301/.353/.500 line with 6 HR and 23 RBI in 136 AB's. In his 2012 breakout year, Bird also struck out 132 times. So far this season, he has struck out 57 times in 318 at-bats. That means he's been more patient looking for his pitch and not chasing bad pitches or being fooled as often as he was three years ago. He comes to the Majors after going 19-52 (.365) with 3 HR, 9 RBI, and 8 runs scored over his last 12 games. Any help to the offense would be greatly appreciated at this time.

Here's a closer look at how bad the Yankees team slump is.

Jacoby Ellsbury 0-19; benched Wednesday night

Brett Gardner 5-35 (.143) in last 10 games; was thrown out stealing the last two nights and hasn't stolen a base in two months.

Alex Rodriguez 6-37 (.162) in last 10 games. 2-21 during losing streak.

Mark Teixeira 7-40 (.175) in last 10 games. 1-17 in last four games.

Chase Headley 3-21 (.143) in last seven games. Did have go-ahead 2-run single in first game vs. Indians.

Stephen Drew 1-18 (.056) with 1 solo home run in last five games played.

Brendan Ryan 2-16 (.125) in last half-dozen. And dude, that mustache has got to go.

Brian McCann 1-19 (.053) in last six played. Like Drew, with one solo home run. Not everyone has been bad.

Didi Gregorius went 6-19 in the last five games, though he didn't have an RBI or run scored. Carlos Beltran has a modest seven-game hitting streak in which is 8-24 (.333) with five walks, and a pair of home runs and RBI.

Here comes the corny. The Yankees are hoping that Bird will help them rise like the Phoenix and to soar again.  I told you it was corny.

Wednesday, August 5, 2015

Let the Luis Severino Era Begin

Luis Severino is ready to bring his electric stuff to the Bronx.

There was a time that most fans of the New York Yankees didn't care about the team's farmhands. They didn't even know their names. But all that changed with publications like Baseball Weekly and Baseball America and the advent of social media.

While some fans still will quickly fork over top prospects for a current or former star, more and more fans want to see home grown ball players don their team's uniform for more than Spring Training.

The Yankees farm system was derided for some time after poor scouting, drafting, and trades for veterans left it bereft of ready for prime time players. Now the farm system has become replenished with top grade prospects. Those prospects were in demand during last week's trade deadline, but General Manager Brian Cashman refused to part with any of the cream of the crop. Aaron Judge, Jorge Mateo, Greg Bird and tonight's Yankees' starter Luis Severino remained in the Yankees system, much to the delight of the Yankees fan base.

While there is no such thing as a sure thing, the Yankees front office, manager Joe Girardi, and pitching coach Larry Rothschild expect a lot from Severino, the Yankees top rated minor leaguer.
It's not the first time a pitcher made his highly anticipated debut in the last decade. Phil Hughes and Joba Chamberlain both turned in some terrific performances in their initial lengthy recall with the team. Neither of them are in the organization any more, and Cashman is hoping (and probably praying) that will not be the case with Severino.

You probably need to go all the way back to 1964 to find a time when a Yankees staff was counting this heavily on a rookie this late in the season. Long before he was the Yankees coach, Mel Stottlemyre made his debut as a 22-year old stud on August 12, 1964. "Stot" went 9-3 with a 2.06 ERA in 12 starts and one relief appearance. He had five complete games in a time when starting pitchers still went the distance. He also made three starts in the '64 World Series, finishing 1-1 against a St. Louis Cardinals team that captured the championship in seven games. It would be the only postseason appearance for Stottlemyre.

Severino made eight starts for Double-A Trenton this season and averaged over 11 strikeouts per 9 innings before a promotion to Triple-A Scranton. He excelled at the challenge of facing hitters in a hitters' league, the International League. Severino compiled a 7-0 mark with  a 1.91 ERA in 11 starts. He allowed less than a base runner per inning, with just 40 hits allowed in 61.1 innings.

And now he'll put on #40 and face the Boston Red Sox in Yankee Stadium.

Saturday, July 18, 2015

Sanchez Promoted To Triple-A

Gary Sanchez joins recently promoted Thunder teammates Luis Severino and Aaron Judge in Scranton.

Gary Sanchez has been a highly touted prospect since the Yankees signed him as a free agent teenager out of the Dominican  Republic in 2009. In fact, this is the first season since 2011 that Sanchez has not been ranked in top 100 prospects by Baseball America, MLB.com, and Baseball Prospectus.

Sanchez has appeared to overcome the immaturity that plagued him earlier in his career and recently got on a hot streak at Double-A Trenton. He leaves the Thunder with a slash line of .262/.319/.476 with 12 HR and 36 RBI in 58 games.

The 22-year old's best season came in 2012 when he played for Charleston ('A') and Tampa ('A+'). He produced an .829 OPS with career highs in home runs (18) and RBI (85). There has been speculation that the Yankees may use him as trade bait at the upcoming non-waiver trade deadline.