Can Adam Warren Return To Being a Starter?

Courtesy MLBPressBox.com

Adam Warren was one of the biggest surprises for the Yankees in 2014 pitching out of the bullpen. He had a 2.97 ERA and a 3.28 xFIP and stabilized the middle innings before the Yankees got to Dellin Betances and David Robertson later in the game.

The biggest surprise with Warren was his added strikeouts and velocity coming out of the bullpen. Even though that will generally happen with most pitchers who go from starting to relieving, it was especially noticeable with Warren because he also relieved in 2013 and never showed this kind of stuff. According to Brooks Baseball, Warren averaged 95.28 MPH on his fastball after averaging 93.97 MPH in 2013 and his K/9 jumped to 8.69 last year from 7.48 the previous season.

Even after Warren’s great season in the bullpen last year, returning him to the rotation must be considered this year due to the Yankees’ lack of depth in their rotation. Top pitchers Masahiro Tanaka, Michael Pineda and CC Sabathia are all health risks, and Chris Capuano is a performance risk at the fifth spot.…

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Musing On Lineup Possibilities

Joe Lineup Card

“So I put Gardy here, and Teix here, and Didi here… “/Courtesy of Reuters

While they’re still hampered by an old, declining, high-injury risk group of power bats in the middle third of the batting order, the Yankees have done pretty well to upgrade their positions of greatest weakness and add some much needed depth to the position player portion of their roster this offseason.  There are enough guys in place and a few more guys who’ll be in play when ST starts to give Joe the potential to mix and match his lineups more strategically than he’s been able to the last few years.  Then it was him mixing and matching just to keep guys healthy and have enough warm bodies to fill out a lineup card.  Now it could be much more geared towards playing matchups and emphasizing the strengths of each player, of course with the goal of keeping the aforementioned old, injury-prone players healthy remaining in place.…

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Covering A Short Rotation With A Deep Bullpen, Or Why I Still Want A 1-Inning Closer

Soriano Untuck

An untuck reunion would be pretty sweet, no? Courtesy of Getty Images

We’re less than 4 weeks from pitchers and catchers reporting to Tampa for the start of Spring Training 2015.  When they do, the question marks and problems in the rotation will become all too real.  Every picture of Masahiro Tanaka or CC Sabathia throwing long toss is going to be a reminder that each of them may be 1 pitch away from major elbow and knee injuries at all times, and a reminder of how little depth the Yankees have behind them to fill in if/when injuries strike.

The Yanks continue to stand pat on diving into the free agent bargain bin to add an arm.  As much as some of us might want them to do that, the smarter way to upgrade the pitching staff might be to go back to the free agent reliever pool and lock up somebody to work as a traditional 1-inning closer.  The bullpen is already shaping up to be one of the deepest and best in baseball.  …

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Tuesday Morning Food For Thought: A World Without Brendan Ryan

With the Braves claiming Eury Perez off waivers last Friday, the loop was finally closed on the Stephen Drew roster addition. Perez was the most logical choice to be sacrificed, as the Yankees have plenty of 40-man outfield depth in the form of their own young players. Now that he’s gone though, the clock may and should be ticking on Brendan Ryan.

What does he bring to the table at this point? He can’t hit. At all. Statistical metrics have his defense on a major decline from where it was 2-3 years ago.  The money owed to him is a little more than half of the already minuscule number the Yanks are paying to Drew this year.  Drew’s presence on the roster gives the Yankees another solid shortstop option to back up Didi, and the presence of guys like Jose Pirela and Rob Refsnyder who can play second base makes Ryan expendable there as well.  Ryan serves no purpose on this roster anymore.  …

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Quick Hit: A Window Of Opportunity For 2 Outfield Prospects

The Yankee outfield is pretty well set for the 2015 season.  Well, to be more accurate, it’s set for the start of the 2015 season.  Brett Gardner and Jacoby Ellsbury are going to be back doing their thing atop the batting order, Carlos Beltran is going to be back, presumably healthy and hopefully able to rebound from 2014’s horrific numbers, and Chris Young is going to be his caddy on the bench as the 4th outfielder.

To a certain degree, the outfield is pretty well set for the foreseeable future as well.  Gardner and Ellsbury are under contract for years to come, Aaron Judge is the new “next big thing” prospect who can take over right field long-term after Beltran’s contract is up, and there are another few years of hot stove seasons and trade deadlines before then to plug holes as needed.

In a perfect world, the 4 guys already on the projected Opening Day roster would handle all or close to all of the outfield at-bats this season.  …

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On Didi Gregorius’ “Huge Future” As A Hitter

Gregorius vs CIN

Courtesy of Getty Images

With Jeff Pentland finally in place as the new hitting coach, he’s been making the early rounds with the NY media and doing interviews to discuss his philosophy and plans for helping turn around what was a disgustingly inept offense last season.  I’ve been having a little fun at his expense on Twitter pointing out some of the nothing quotes he’s offered up so far, but there actually was something he said yesterday about a specific player that caught my attention.  When discussing individual players, Pentland was especially positive talking about Didi Gregorius:

“I saw Didi a lot when I was with the Dodgers. I was there when they brought him up, and he started out very well, but just like most young hitters, they figure him out eventually. He’s an incredibly athletic player, he’s got a huge future, and I’m very excited that he’s a Yankee.”

A “huge future”, huh?  That’s pretty high praise for a guy with a .679 career OPS and a .721 career OPS in 7 MiL seasons.  …

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Can CC Sabathia Have a Renaissance?

CC

The 2015 New York Yankees rotation is mostly a giant question mark right now, with CC Sabathia being the perhaps the biggest one.

Nobody is expecting much from Sabathia in 2015 because he hasn’t given anybody a reason to expect much since 2012. Sabathia went 3-4 with a 5.28 ERA after eight starts last season before missing the rest of the year with a knee injury. His struggles began in 2013 when he had a notable loss of velocity on his fastball and finished with a 4.78 ERA.

Obviously, he is never getting his 95 MPH fastball back, but plenty of pitchers have been successful with fastballs that average around 90 MPH. Despite all the negativity surrounding Sabathia, there are some signs that he can be one of those pitchers.

A scout told ESPN New York’s Andrew Marchand that he believes Sabathia’s pitching smarts can help him reinvent himself as he turns 35 next season.

“When a guy gets into their 30s, they have to have a second career,” the scout said.…

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Thursday Afternoon Food For Thought: The Importance Of All These Marginal Upgrades

This was originally supposed to be a longer series of posts after the regular season ended, but I figured some of the wounds were still too fresh and I didn’t want to be too big of a downer.  We all know there were a ton of bad losses last season.  Listed below are the 5 games I believe the Yankees should have won the most:

  • 5/11/14- Brewers 6, Yankees 5.  Yanks blew an early lead after scoring 3 off Matt Garza in the top of the 1st.  Bullpen coughed up the lead late, then gave up the walk-off loss in the bottom of the 9th after a Teix HR to tie the game in the top half.
  • 7/5/14- Twins 2, Yankees 1.  Yanks lost on a walk-off error in the 11th inning after managing to score only 1 run against Minnesota starter Yohan Pino.  They didn’t have a single extra-base hit in the game.
  • 7/21/14- Rangers 4, Yankees 2.  The team made 5 defensive errors and scored 2 runs on 4 hits in 7.1 innings against Miles Mikolas.  
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A-Rod’s Role Continues To Shrink

A-Rod Workout

Possibly the last time we see A-Rod play third base. Courtesy of his Instagram page

 

Despite the team’s unspoken desires and Cash’s public statements to the contrary, there was a time not very long ago when Alex Rodriguez would have been the starting third baseman for the Yankees next year.  That most likely wouldn’t have meant good things for A-Rod’s health or the team’s chances of winning, another example of how flawed their decision making and roster building strategy had become.

Thankfully Cash and the rest of the front office recognized the importance in not allowing that to happen as part of their offseason infield makeover.  Chase Headley was brought back to be the starting third baseman, a handful of Quad-A utility guys have been invited to ST, rookies like Jose Pirela and Rob Refsnyder are going to get a crack at an Opening Day roster spot, and Stephen Drew was signed on Tuesday as the last bit of depth insurance.…

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