The LoHud Yankees Blog

A New York Yankees blog by Chad Jennings and the staff of The Journal News


Archive for the ‘Misc’

Yankees might find plenty worth watching in World Series10.21.14

The World Series gets started tonight, and as you might have heard, the Yankees aren’t in it. But, it’s the World Series, so let’s all watch, shall we? Here are a few things about both the San Francisco Giants and the Kansas City Royals that the Yankees might find worth watching in the next week or so.

GIANTS

Pablo SandovalOffseason consideration: Kung-Fu Panda
The Yankees need insurance at third base, and they also need someone to boost their offense. The Giants just happen to have a 28-year-old switching-hitting third baseman who had a .739 OPS in a down year and won a World Series MVP two years ago. Pablo Sandoval comes with plenty of concerns and issues of his own, but even in his down years he’s been a pretty productive hitter. He doesn’t have Chase Headley’s glove, but he seems to be a better bet to hit for power than Headley. If the Yankees want to prioritize offense when choosing a third base alternative to Alex Rodriguez, the best bet just might be the guy playing third base in the World Series for the third time in five years.

Roster construction: Hey look, it’s a young guy at second base
Last winter, the Royals pent big money on a second baseman, and now Omar Infante is one of the most glaring holes in their lineup. The Giants, on the other hand, lost Marco Scutaro to injury and plugged the hole with a kid name Joe Panik. And that kid’s been their No. 2 hitter this postseason. Whether it’s during the winter, during spring training, or sometime during the season, the Yankees are going to have to decide whether it’s worth giving Rob Refsnyder an opportunity to do something similar. Offensively, Panik and Refsnyder fit similar profiles — a mid-season scouting report on Panik even reads a little like a Refsnyder scouring report, for whatever that’s worth — and Panik got the Giants gig after hitting a Refsnyder-like .321/.382/.447 in Triple-A.

Lesson learned: It’s worth building familiar depth in the bullpen
I might post the full story later today, but there’s an Associated Press story about the Giants bullpen that begins with this sentence: “The San Francisco Giants have their own version of the Core Four that has fueled their recent October dominance.” The Core Four in question? Santiago Casilla, Jeremy Affeldt, Javier Lopez and Sergio Romo are four of seven players who have been a part of all three postseason runs for San Francisco. “It’s nice to have these four guys with their experience and calmness they bring to the bullpen,” Giants manager Bruce Bochy said. Bring back Dave Robertson and the Yankees would be on their way to a similar group of familiar late-inning relievers.

ROYALS

James ShieldsOffseason consideration: Big Game James
The Yankees need offense, if guys stay healthy they have enough starting pitching as it is, and the last thing they need is another guy in his mid-30s signed to a multi-year deal. All of that’s true and fair, but James Shields is hard to ignore when he hits the free agent market. He has a 3.17 ERA the past four years combined, and he’s pitched at least 200 innings every year since 2007 (without the hefty build that surely caused some of CC Sabathia’s knee damage). If the Yankees find that there aren’t enough holes to reconstruct their offense this winter, it might make sense to double-down on the pitching. And if they want a front-line starter without committing the years and money it will take to sign Jon Lester or Max Scherzer, then Shields might be the choice. Not saying he should be, only that he’s worth watching as a guy who just might become a winter temptation.

Roster construction: Hey look, it’s a college lefty in the bullpen
On the last day of August, less than two months after the draft, the Royals told their first-round pick that he was coming to the big leagues. Drafted in June, left-handed reliever Brandon Finnegan made his major-league debut September 6 at Yankee Stadium, and he’s remained a valuable piece of the Royals bullpen throughout the postseason. This winter the Yankees have to address the left-handed side of their own bullpen, and a selection of college relievers — including one from the 2014 draft — just might be their best options. Not that there’s a guarantee that Jacob Lindgren, Tyler Webb or James Pazos will have immediate success like Finnegan (he was a higher draft pick than any of the Yankees choices) but it might be an option worth exploring sooner rather than later.

Lesson learned: Player development isn’t limited to the minor leagues
After four seasons and nearly 1,500 at-bats, the Royals had some reason to call Alex Gordon a bust. Or at least, they had plenty of reason to think he might be a bust. His numbers were definitely trending the wrong way, he’d already been moved away from the position at which he’d been a huge prospect, and he’d been shipped back to Triple-A as a 26-year-old. Now he has their lineups highest regular-season OPS to go with terrific defense at his new spot in left field. Eric Hosmer’s career has always been a bit up-and-down so far, but he’s been dynamite this postseason. Lorenzo Cain has also been up and down, but seemed to take a step forward at age 28. Mike Moustakas has never lived up to expectation, but he too has come alive in October. The Yankees might have seen similar strides out of Brett Gardner this year, and perhaps something like that in Adam Warren or David Phelps, who might not have shown up as finished products.

Associated Press photos

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Yankees spring training schedule set10.20.14

Earlier today the Yankees their spring training schedule. It includes a relatively late report date for pitchers and catchers, largely because the exhibition schedule runs into the first week of April. The spring schedule includes 33 games, 16 of which will be George M. Steinbrenner Field.

Pitchers and catchers report on February 20, the first workout will be February 21, position players report on February 25 and the first full-squad workout is scheduled for February 26. The Yankees will play their first spring game on March 3 in Clearwater. The spring home opener will be the very next day.

Season tickets for 2015 Yankees Spring Training home games are on sale beginning today, Monday, October 20 at www.steinbrennerfield.com or www.yankees.com. Individual-game spring tickets will go on sale on Friday, January 9 at 10:00 a.m. at the Steinbrenner Field box office, online at www.yankees.com or by calling Ticketmaster at (800) 745-3000. For ticket information, fans can call (813) 879-2244 or visit www.yankees.com or www.steinbrennerfield.com.

spring schedule

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Magadan reportedly out of running for Yankees staff10.20.14

118132Another name is out of the mix for the Yankees hitting coach vacancy.

According Anthony McCarron, the Yankees have informed Dave Magadan that he is not their choice to replace Kevin Long. Magadan is currently the hitting coach for the Texas Rangers, but the Rangers have been letting their coaches interview for other jobs given the uncertainty with the manager position (Jeff Banister was just hired to replace Ron Washington).

Of all the in-house options, roving minor league instructor James Rowson seems to be the most obvious option, but the Yankees could very well go outside the organization.

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Feinsand: Gary Denbo becoming Yankees VP of baseball ops10.20.14

It seems the Yankees have found their replacement for Mark Newman.

According to Mark Feinsand at the Daily News, the Yankees are set to name Gary Denbo as their new vice president of baseball operations. Denbo has been most recently serving in a scouting role, but he’s most familiar as a long-time hitting coach and hitting coordinator throughout the organization. His name returned to prominence back in 2011 when Derek Jeter seemed to snap out of a offensive slump after working directly with Denbo in Tampa.

After playing various roles and working with players at various levels — from the youngest kids to the most established big leaguers — Denbo would be essentially overseeing the entire minor league operation from his vice president role.

And it seems he’ll be working alongside another new name. Feinsand also reports that Pat Roessler will not be back as the director of player development.

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Salary predictions for arbitration-eligible Yankees10.20.14

Ivan Nova, Joe Girardi

These numbers are far from official, but the crew at MLB Trade Rumors — Matt Swartz in particular — has a strong record when it comes to predicting salaries for arbitration eligible players. Here’s what they’re predicting for this year’s arb-eligible Yankees:

IVAN NOVA
This year: $3.3 million
Next year prediction: $3.3 million

SHAWN KELLEY
This year: $1.765 million
Next year prediction: $2.5 million

MICHAEL PINEDA
This year: roughly $500,000 (slightly more than the minimum)
Next year prediction: $2.1 million

ESMIL ROGERS
This year: $1.85 million
Next year prediction: $1.9 million

DAVID PHELPS
This year: roughly $500,000 (slightly more than the minimum)
Next year prediction: $1.3 million

FRANCISCO CERVELLI
This year: $700,000
Next year prediction: $1.1 million

DAVID HUFF
This year: roughly $500,000 (slightly more than the minimum)
Next year prediction: $700,000

Associated Press photo

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Davis lands in Boston as Yankees continue hitting coach search10.20.14

113099One candidate is out of the mix as the Yankees continue their search for a new hitting coach.

Last night the Red Sox agreed to terms with Chili Davis as their new hitting coach. Davis had been the hitting coach in Oakland and was one of the known candidates for the Yankees opening. With Davis off the board, former Mets and Rangers hitting coach Dave Magadan and longtime minor league hitting instructor James Rowson are among the top candidates for the Yankees gig.

One other small coaching note: Sweeny Murti reports that former Yankees infield instructor and first-base coach Mick Kelleher has decided to retire after 46 years working in baseball. That’s sad news for all of us in the media, if only because Kelleher is a remarkably friendly and patient man who was willing to take the time to really explain a lot of nuances of the game. A great guy to have around a clubhouse.

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Week in review: Short-term Yankee sends Giants to World Series10.19.14

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I have no idea where I was or what I was doing on July 8, 2013. I only know that I wasn’t covering a baseball game that day, and so I missed every second of the Travis Ishikawa Era in the Bronx. He started at first base that day, got two at-bats, struck out each time, and was released just days later. I really don’t remember what I was doing during the one game he played, but I remember joking days later with other reporters that I’d missed his entire stint as a Yankee. Seemed to be a solid chance I’d never, ever hear his name again.

Then, on Thursday night, Ishikawa broke the hearts of every single one of my friends back in Missouri.

Back with the team that originally drafted him, Ishikawa hit a walk-off, three-run homer to send the Giants into a World Series matchup against the ridiculously red-hot Royals. It’s not remotely the championship series anyone might have predicted, but playoff baseball has always been a bit unpredictable, and here were are with a pair of wild cards playing for the title.

I’m guessing most of the county will be cheering for the Royals, and I can only assume that’s because Jayson Nix is on the roster.

Setting the World Series matchup was obviously the main event of the past week. It wasn’t exactly a big weeks for Yankees news, but that’s what happens when the League Championship Series are going on, and the Yankees have already been home for more than half a month.

Joe Girardi, Brian Cashman• With Brian Cashman re-signed to a new three-year contract, the Yankees spent the past week holding their usual organizational meetings. That’s when they discuss the upcoming free agent and trade markets, essentially putting together a plan for the offseason. This year has a new wrinkle in that the Yankees have to find two new big league coaches. Dave Magadan and Chili Davis were among the first hitting coach candidates to emerge. Butch Wynegar, on the other hand, will not be back as hitting coach of Scranton/Wilkes-Barre, which effectively takes him out of the running for the big league job.

• Big news out of the American League East came on Tuesday when longtime Rays general manager Andrew Friedman announced he was moving to Los Angeles to essentially take over the Dodgers’ front office. Friedman will hire a true general manager, leading to typical speculation that Yankees assistant GM Billy Eppler could be a strong candidate for the job.

• Also on the move is Trey Hillman, who served as a special assistant with the Yankees and will become bench coach under A.J. Hinch with the Astros. For a while, it seemed Hillman might be a candidate to replace retiring Mark Newman as the Yankees vice president of baseball operations.

• Erik Boland reported that the Yankees have discussed the idea of hiring former Mets general manager Omar Minaya for a front office job. Minaya is well respected in scouting circles, and Cashman has a history of bringing former GMs to work alongside him.

• Winter ball has gotten started down south, and Ramon Flores is getting some at-bats to help makeup for the time he missed with an ankle injury this season. Also, down in Arizona, Greg Bird is off to a terrific start in the Fall League, and Tyler Austin has been getting some time in left field.

• Speaking of young players, Baseball America wrapped up its annual league-by-league prospect rankings and included several Yankees in the mix. Jorge Mateo, Luis Torrens and Luis Severino ranked fourth at the three lowest levels. Rob Refsnyder was 13th in the International League, Gary Sanchez was 11th in the Eastern League and Aaron Judge was 15th in the Florida State League.

• Former owner of the Biogenesis clinic, Anthony Bosch, pleaded guilty on Thursday to charges of performance-enhancing drug distribution. He faces a maximum 10 years in prison, but he could get less because of his cooperation with Major League Baseball and with prosecutors.

Associated Press photos

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Two years later, Yankees roster largely unrecognizable10.18.14

Still looking back at that most recent Yankees playoff game from exactly two years ago, there’s another clear indication of just how much things have changed since then. The Yankees used 19 players in that game. Only four of them are still under contract for next season. Here are the players the Yankees used in Game 4 of the 2012 ALCS, their most recent playoff game.

LINEUP

Ichiro SuzukiLF Ichiro Suzuki – Remember, he’d been pretty good after that mid-season trade.

RF Nick Swisher – His final game with the Yankees.

2B Robinson Cano – Hit .075 in the series; took an 0-for-4 that night.

1B Mark Teixeira – Has played 138 games and hit .209/.308/.391 in two years since.

DH Raul Ibanez – Postseason hero was starting ahead of Rodriguez.

3B Eric Chavez – Nice player in a part-time role; went home to Arizona.

C Russell Martin – Just had a terrific year with Pirates heading back into free agency.

CF Brett Gardner – Hurt most of that year; stock has gone up since.

SS Eduardo Nunez – Added to ALCS roster only after Derek Jeter’s injury.

OFF THE BENCH

DH Alex Rodriguez – Pinch hit against a lefty in the sixth; vowed a return-to-form postgame.

3B Jayson Nix – Had been starting at shortstop but Nunez got hot; made the final out.

CF Curtis Granderson – Went 3-for-30 that postseason; hitless in the ALCS.

C Chris Stewart – Entered for defense after Granderson hit for Martin.

PITCHERS

CC SabathiaLHP CC Sabathia – Ugly final start of Sabathia’s last particularly strong season.

RHP Cody Eppley – Surprisingly effective specialist; has 1.2 big league innings since.

LHP Clay Rapada – Surprisingly effective specialist; has two big league innings since.

RHP Joba Chamberlain – At least there were no bugs on the field.

RHP Derek Lowe – Scrapheap addition had been surprisingly good late in the year.

RHP Dave Robertson – Gave up a solo homer that couldn’t have mattered less.

Associated Press photos

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Yankees postseason drought hits exactly two years10.18.14

ALCS Yankees Tigers Baseball

October 18, 2012.

Exactly two years ago today.

The last time the Yankees played a postseason game.

It wasn’t a good night for the Yankees. Their captain had a broken ankle, their highest-paid player was benched because he couldn’t hit right-handed pitching, and their ace couldn’t pitch out of the fourth inning. The Yankees had only two hits as the Tigers finished off a convincing four-game sweep in a deflating American League Championship Series.

“We have a lot of things to be proud of this year,” Mark Teixeira said that night. “But the last four games weren’t among them. We just didn’t play well. We didn’t’ play Yankee baseball, and it showed.”

I’d actually forgotten just how awful the Yankees were that series. They hit .157, the second-worst team batting average of all 172 teams to compete in an ALCS since 1969. They played 39 innings and scored in three of them.

“Basically our team is built around power and plate discipline, and obviously what comes in between are the walks and the singles and the doubles,” Brian Cashman said after the elimination.

Acknowledging that the offensive philosophy became an overwhelming let down, Cashman vowed not to change his approach to lineup building.

“If you have a philosophy you believe in, that’s been tested, I have no problem with people asking about it — clearly trying to challenge it, trying to dissect it and tear it apart,” Cashman said. “But I am not going to turn myself into, as Joe (Girardi) used earlier in the year, the Bronx Bunters because all of a sudden we didn’t hit for this week in October. That’s not our DNA. That’s not what makes us successful and that’s certainly not what’s getting us in the postseason every year but one year since I got here.”

Power and plate discipline. That used to be the Yankees DNA, and maybe they meant it to be their DNA this season as well.

But the 2014 Yankees ranked 10th in the American League in slugging percentage, and they ranked 23rd in all of baseball in on-base percentage. Theynever played “Yankee baseball,” as Teixeira put it. Some of that was surely age, some of it was injury, and some of it was Rodriguez’s steady decline and ultimate suspension. But, with many of those familiar underperforming parts locked into roster spots going forward, can the Yankees really rebuild their lineup into one that’s able to produce enough to play another meaningful game in October?

Normally it might be worth asking about building a lineup that can win in October. For now, though, the Yankees just need to get back there.

Associated Press photo

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World Series schedule gets started on Tuesday10.17.14

NLCS Cardinals Giants Baseball

Now that the World Series matchup is set, the World Series schedule is set. The offseason will truly begin once the series is decided. Here’s the World Series schedule with the first game set for Tuesday.

 Mon. Oct. 20th WORLD SERIES WORKOUT DAY @ KC’s KAUFFMAN STADIUM
 Tues. Oct. 21st 7:30 on air
8:07 first pitch
Game 1 @ Kansas City
FOX
 Wed. Oct. 22nd 7:30 on air
8:07 first pitch
Game 2 @ Kansas City
FOX
 Thur. Oct. 23rd TRAVEL DAY
 Fri. Oct. 24th 7:30 on air
8:07 first pitch
Game 3 @ San Francisco
FOX
 Sat. Oct. 25th 7:30 on air
8:07 first pitch
Game 4 @ San Francisco
FOX
 Sun. Oct. 26th 7:00 on air
8:07 first pitch
Game 5 @ San Francisco
FOX
 Mon. Oct. 27th TRAVEL DAY
 Tue. Oct. 28th 7:30 on air
8:07 first pitch
Game 6 @ Kansas City
FOX
 Wed. Oct. 29th 7:30 on air
8:07 first pitch
Game 7 @ Kansas City
FOX

Associated Press photo

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