Service Time: A Greg Bird Story

A scant few hours ago, we learned that the man they (read: we) call #GREGBIRD would miss the entirety of the 2016 season due to shoulder surgery. Some have already begun looking for silver linings, generally revolving around the likelihood of Bird spending the majority of 2016 in Triple-A due to the presence of Messrs Mark Teixeira, Alex Rodriguez, and Carlos Beltran – but that is little more than scraping the bottom of the barrel for a silver lining. Shoulder surgeries tend to sap power (at least for a year or so), and Bird’s offensive game largely revolves around depositing the ball deep within the right field bleachers. And, of course, this ignores the full season of lost development for a 23-year old.

Oh, and it gets worse.

Due to Major League Baseball’s service time rules, Bird is all but guaranteed to garner a full year of service time in 2016. He is currently on the team’s active roster, which would put him on the Major League disabled list. While there may well be ways to game the system, it seems as though those loopholes have yet to be discovered. Michael Pineda picked up roughly a year and a half of service time with the Yankees before throwing a pitch for them in the Majors, and Zack Wheeler was credited with a full season in 2015 as he recovered from Tommy John Surgery. Both players were put on the disabled list closer to the beginning of the regular season, to be fair, but this is the rule – not the exception.

For the time being, Dustin Ackley‘s role on the team seems to have grown quite a bit, and Tyler Austin may suddenly be relevant again. It makes Juan Uribe and his ability to play second and third a bit more attractive, as well, should Ackley be forced into further duty at 1B and in LF. And, despite his butchery in the field (-14 DRS, -14.3 UZR at 1B), folks are already discussing Pedro Alvarez as a potential replacement for Bird. None are as exciting as Bird, who may well have the highest offensive ceiling of any Yankees “prospect” (yes, I know he doesn’t qualify at this juncture), though.

It may be premature to worry about Bird reaching free agency in 2021 instead of 2022, as he has yet to go under the knife. Nevertheless, this deals a serious blow to the team’s upper level depth in 2016, and puts a damper on the team’s plans in a post-Teixeira world. Continue reading Service Time: A Greg Bird Story

Prospect News And Notes: 2/1/16

Couple of quick updates on the MLB.com prospect lists that came out late last week.

Aaron Judge was the final Yankee prospect to crack a positional top 10 list, coming in as the #8 outfielder.  The brief write-up on him praised him for being a better all-around hitter than originally advertised while acknowledging his struggles upon jumping to Triple-A, saying “… even though he profiles as a potential slugging run producer, he’s also shown an ability in the past to make adjustments. Once Judge does that, he should be ready for his New York debut.”

Judge is going to have a lot of eyes on him during ST this year and I feel like Joe could give him a lot of burn to get a firsthand look at how he’s changed his approach against upper-level hitting.  If Judge is able to learn from last year and improve his Triple-A production while cutting down on strikeouts, he could skip guys like Williams and Heathcott in line when it comes to being the first outfielder called up.

– Interestingly enough, Judge was not the leading Yankee on the MLB.com Top 100 list.  He was edged by Jorge Mateo, who came in at #30, 1 spot ahead of Judge.  Gary Sanchez came in at #59 to complete the trio of Yankee selections, and I’m much more in agreement with his placement on this list than I was with the BP ranking.  Of course rankings like these can be wildly different and don’t mean too much in the grand scheme of things, but it is pretty cool to see the Yankees with 3 top-60 prospects even after Severino and Bird lost their eligibility.  The improved farm is finally starting to bear fruit.

If you’re interested, the top 5 prospects on this list were Corey Seager, Byron Buxton, Lucas Giolito, Julio Urias, and J.P. Crawford. Continue reading Prospect News And Notes: 2/1/16

Quick hit: Greg Bird out for the season

It’s not April 1, right? So this isn’t a joke?

Damn it.

More:

The initial injury occurred in May 2015.
Continue reading Quick hit: Greg Bird out for the season

Some baseball thoughts on the first day of February

It’s February 1, and do you know what that means? It means baseball will be played this month. It may be sloppy, and it may not count, but it’s still baseball.

jonahexcited

Spring Training Is Around The Corner

Some of the Yankees are already in Tampa. CC Sabathia, Luis Severino, and Andrew Miller are already working out, along with Aaron Judge, Jorge Mateo, Mason Williams, Bryan Mitchell, and Dustin Ackley.

Of that group of early arrivers, I am most interested in CC Sabathia and how he does this Spring. We all know about his offseason and the shocking announcement before he headed into rehab for alcohol abuse. Before early end to his 2015, and after he was fitted with a knee brace, Sabathia was pitching a lot better than he had the previous five months of the season. In September, he made five starts and was he was 2-1 with a 2.17 ERA. It will be interesting to see how much the brace helps and if he can last a full season at age 35 (he’s turning 36 in July), but it would be great if Sabathia could contribute to the team and be a part of the starting rotation for the whole season.

Speaking of the rotation, here’s what Ken Davidoff of the NY Post has to say about who he thinks could be the Yankees’ true ace.

A Healthy Ellsbury?

Another guy Yankee fans are probably wondering about is Jacoby Ellsbury. He injured his knee in May, wasn’t the same afterward, and had a very disappointing finish to his 2015. The Yankees will need him 1) to remain healthy and 2) remain healthy. That’s it. If he’s healthy, it’s a big boon for the top of the lineup. If he’s not, he’s a detriment. It’s pretty simple. The Yankees cannot expect both Mark Teixeira and Alex Rodriguez to repeat their 2015 numbers, (Teixeira is turning 36 in April, while A-Rod will be 41 in July) so Ellsbury needs to step up a bit.

Leave A-Rod Alone

On Friday, Andrew Marchand and Wally Matthews had a back and forth on ESPN New York in which they wondered if A-Rod was truly a changed man. It took me the entire weekend to come up with words to say about it that didn’t involve me using foul language.

Here were my initial thoughts on the piece:

lalapump

You guys can read it and judge for yourselves, but it seems to me that Mr. Marchand and Mr. Matthews are vexed that Rodriguez didn’t fall on his face last season. He committed the sin of not giving them a reason to write awful things about him (once the 2015 season started), and since they apparently needed clickbait this weekend, well who better to provide it than A-Rod?

Now, is it fair to wonder if A-Rod’s still taking something? Of course it is. We can never be sure about any of these PED guys, and while I would hope that Alex wouldn’t be stupid enough to risk a lifetime ban after missing a full season to suspension, you just never know. With that said, I also feel that the piece in question was completely unnecessary, and given the fact that Matthews himself refused to take a position after the Yankees signed Aroldis Chapman, his thoughts about A-Rod seem more personal than anything. And it has always seemed that way, at least to me.

Here’s what he wrote about Chapman on December 28:

There are questions about Chapman’s character and judgment — according to a source who spoke to ESPN.com on condition of anonymity, Chapman’s 2-year-old baby was in the house at the time he allegedly was shooting up the furniture — but let’s not get carried away with moralizing about the kind of people who play our games.

 

In a perfect world, they would all be model citizens. But in the world we live in, performance always takes precedence over behavior. And in truth, I have no idea whether Chapman is a good guy or a bad guy.

 

I do know he’s a terrific pitcher, and any baggage that he brings into the Yankees’ clubhouse will be their problem, not mine or yours.

How do you not take a stance when someone is involved in a domestic violence case, but act as if taking PED is much, much worse? It doesn’t make any sense. And if someone says, “Well domestic violence doesn’t happen on the field, but PED usage does!” I will scream.

Here’s what he said about A-Rod in the piece on Friday:

Unfortunately, baseball and all professional sports have made this dirty bed for themselves and it’s not only naive, but irresponsible for us as journalists not to suspect hanky-panky when an athlete of an advanced age does something it seems unlikely he would be able to do.

So it’s irresponsible for journalists not to suspect hanky-panky when it comes to PED, but it’s fine for them say almost nothing when a player allegedly shoots a gun eight times while his two year old child is in the house?

Okay.

More on A-Rod the Terrible

This weekend at Twins fest, John Ryan Murphy who after being asked about Rodriguez, told Twins fans: “A-Rod is the greatest teammate I ever had. He’d hold meetings, he’d help, he’d ask questions. He was amazing.” He also mentioned that he got to talk to Alex a lot last season because he was on the bench a lot and Alex was DHing.

Uh oh, Murphy better be careful and start saying bad things about Alex. We can’t have people actually liking him!

Blogging for Charity

Finally, I, along with a lot of great baseball writers and bloggers, participated in a charity Blogathon on the Baseball Continuum website. It was to raise money for cancer research.

The Roswell Park Alliance Foundation is the charitable arm of Roswell Park Cancer Institute and funds raised will be “put to immediate use to increase the pace from research trials into improved clinical care, to ensure state-of-the-art facilities, and to help improve the quality of life for patients and their families.”Please donate through the Blogathon’s GoFundMe page.

Here are some links for you to read:

Oh, and here’s what I wrote for the Blogathon: Sonnet 13. You can guess what it’s about just from the title. (And for the record, I know it’s not a true sonnet so I don’t need any pedantic people leaving comments about it, thanks.)

Spring Training countdown: 17 days

Happy Monday! Continue reading Some baseball thoughts on the first day of February

Worrying About Chase Headley

[caption id="attachment_80096" align="aligncenter" width="600"]Headley vs SEA 2015 Courtesy of Getty Images[/caption]

Less than three weeks from pitchers and catchers reporting and I continue to feel good about the 2016 Yankees.  Despite avoiding the MLB free agent pool like the plague, Cash managed to improve major areas of need on the roster and added youth and depth of talent to supplement the aging core.  There’s still one player left for him to snag to complete the roster, but I don’t actually expect that signing to happen.  The Yankees appear to be set with what they’ve got to open the year and once again they are going to face a ton of questions.

As far as the questions about the lineup go, I feel good about most of the answers.  I don’t expect Jacoby Ellsbury to be as bad as he was in 2015, and the addition of Aaron Hicks should help keep both Ellsbury and Brett Gardner fresher for the later months of the season.  Despite the obvious and measurable signs of permanent decline, I still expect Brian McCann to pop 20+ homers and drive in runs this season.  I think Teix is going to come back and keep raking, even if his production is down a bit from last year’s torrid pace, I think Didi and Starlin Castro are going to take a step up, and I even think A-Rod and Carlos Beltran are going to continue to contribute positively as offensive players.

The only guy in the lineup who really worries me is Chase Headley.  He wasn’t envisioned as a major offensive factor when the Yankees re-signed him last offseason, but I think everybody was expecting more than a .259/.324/.369 slash line and 91 wRC+.  Bare minimum I think we were all expecting Headley to maintain his ability to get on base and be a flexible lineup option for Joe when matchups were favorable.  Instead he saw his BB rate drop to an average level and his power continue to dwindle.  After being hot or cold for most of the season, Headley finished September at his absolute coldest, posting a .475 OPS and a 28.5% K rate in 123 plate appearances. Continue reading Worrying About Chase Headley

Prospect News And Notes: 1/29/16

All prospects all the time.  Couple of things to touch on from yesterday:

– One, the MLB.com top 10 positional prospects release party continued yesterday with the shortstops.  It’s a deep position, so Jorge Mateo did not crack the top 10.  He did, however, get a shout out in the honorable mentions, with the write-up comparing him to Jose Reyes and calling him the Yankees’ shortstop of the future.  I thought Mateo might sneak into the bottom third of the list, but it’s understandable that he didn’t after what was his first year of full-season ball.

– Two, Baseball Prospectus put out their Top 101 prospects list and the consensus top 3 Yankee prospects all made the cut.  Aaron Judge came in at number 18, Mateo at 65, and Gary Sanchez was 92.  Personally I think Sanchez should be at least 25 spots higher, but I’m also a Yankee fan.  The complete list and the capsules on each player are completely free.  That’s pretty sweet.

– Three, we’ve settled on a game plan for the 2016 edition of the IIATMS Top 30, which I will share with you now.  As you read this, our staff is putting together their individual ranking lists.  Just as we did last year, we will compile all the individual lists, tally them up using a 30-1 point system for each position in each list, and use the points totals to determine the order for the final composite top 30.  We will unveil that top 30 and some other related posts the week of February 8th, the official IIATMS Prospect Week 2016.  I’ve given you a week plus of advanced notice, so plan accordingly.

If you’d like to recap last year’s Top 30, you can do so here, here, here, and here. Continue reading Prospect News And Notes: 1/29/16

Yanks And Ivan Nova Avoid Arbitration, Agree To 1-Year Deal

As first reported by Jack Curry, the Yankees and Ivan Nova agreed to a 1-year deal today, avoiding arbitration in the process.  The deal is for $4.1 million with some unknown performance incentives and it has been confirmed by the team.  Dollar amount is right smack dab in the middle of the figures that both sides submitted previously.

Nova is coming off a tough year in his first season back on the hill after TJS.  The Yankees were shopping him as aggressively as they could earlier in the offseason and he’s effectively lost his rotation spot based on his injuries and uneven performance, but with nobody biting on the trade front Nova obviously holds a lot more value to the team as part of the pitching staff.  He’s expected to work as a starter in spring camp but will likely settle into a long relief/swingman role as long as nobody gets hurt.  Nova has always had command problems, but he has the stuff to be an effective starter and possibly even a very effective reliever if he can establish some form of consistency.

With Nova signed, Aroldis Chapman is the sole remaining unsigned arb-eligible guy.  Hopefully he and the club come to an agreement quickly. Continue reading Yanks And Ivan Nova Avoid Arbitration, Agree To 1-Year Deal

Quick hit: The Yankees (and the rest of baseball unveiled their Spring Training uniforms

You guys, we’re in the homestretch!

(Click on the image so you can see the full jersey)

Each team’s hat and uniforms will have an AZ or an FL patch on both their hat and uniforms, depending, of course, on where they play their Spring Training games.

So what do you think? I think I like them. Plus, there’s not a lot of room for error with the Yankees’ uniforms. They don’t have a bright colors in their logo unlike other teams.

Check out one of the Tigers’ hats for Spring:

TigersOrangeSpringTrainingunis_1454004829798_30936721_ver1.0_640_480

Not cute. And you can probably see them from space. Continue reading Quick hit: The Yankees (and the rest of baseball unveiled their Spring Training uniforms

Quick Hit: “Shifting Into Non-Roster Invitee Mode”

I came across a recent Bryan Hoch article about the lineup options with Starlin Castro last night and it got me thinking.  No, not about the lineup because I don’t think there’s really that much to think about if we’re talking regular starting lineup against a righty.  That’s going to look like this:

1) Ellsbury
2) Gardner
3) Beltran
4) Teix
5) A-Rod
6) Big Mac
7) Headley
8) Castro
9) Didi

No, there was something else in the article that caught my eye.  Something about the Yankees not being able to make any more moves on the MLB level:

“The Yankees — the only team not to sign a Major League free agent this offseason — are saying that they have shifted into non-roster invitee mode, believing that they have exhausted their available options on the free agent and trade markets.”

Exhausted their available options?  What??

/checks MLBTR free agent tracker

/sees Juan Uribe’s name still included in the “unsigned” group

Guess they haven’t exhausted ALL their options.  Come on, Cash.  Do it.  Make it happen.  1-year deal, you need a real backup third baseman, it probably wouldn’t hurt to have another positive clubhouse influence around Starlin, and Hal probably wouldn’t even realize the few million was gone.

Who am I kidding?  Of course he would.  But that’s beside the point.  There’s a very viable, very affordable MLB option still out there for the taking, one that fits the 25-man roster’s needs very well, and instead of pouncing on him to bolster their Major League roster the Yankees sound like they’re content to let him go and ink more MiL catchers.  Isn’t a proven, flexible, above-average MLB hitter in the final bench/roster spot better than any rotating combination of Triple-A guys?  Do it, Cash.  Go ninja mode and get it done.

Ninja Cash

P.S.- The phrase “shifting into non-roster invitee mode” in the context of the Yankees is laugh out loud funny.  I read that and I picture Hal cackling and lighting a cigar with a fist full of hundreds as he does a burnout in the executive parking lot in some kind of 80s sports car. Continue reading Quick Hit: “Shifting Into Non-Roster Invitee Mode”