The LoHud Yankees Blog

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

Yankees 1B Bird named AFL Player of the Week

One of the top hitting prospects in the Yankees organization has been named Player of the Week in the Arizona Fall League. Here’s the announcement with details from the AFL (with bonus information about a Royals pitching prospect):

BirdPhoenix, Arizona — Scottsdale Scorpions 1B Greg Bird (Yankees) and Peoria Javelinas RHP Kyle Zimmer (Royals) are the Arizona Fall League’s week two player and pitcher of the week, respectively.

Bird — The 6-3, 215-pound first baseman continued his strong Fall League start by hitting .353 in week two with 2 homers, 5 RBI, 2 walks and 3 runs. He also posted a .421 on-base percentage, .706 slugging percentage and 1.130 OPS. Hitting .368 overall, good for fifth in the league, Bird entered week three leading the AFL in homers (3-tied), RBI (10-tied), extra-base hits (6-tied) and total bases (260). He also ranked second in slugging percentage (.684), runs (9-tied) and hits (14), fourth in at-bats (38), and fifth in OPS (1.127).

The Yankees selected the Aurora, CO native in the second round (61st overall) of the 2011 draft.
(actually, he was a fifth-rounder that year)

A .283 career hitter with 36 homers and 140 RBI in 264 games in four minor-league seasons, Bird split 2014 between Single-A Tampa and Double-A Trenton.

Other Nominees for Player of the Week — Mesa OF Boog Powell (Athletics), Salt River IF Rio Ruiz (Astros), Glendale OF Scott Schebler (Dodgers) and Surprise OF Nick Williams (Rangers).

Zimmer — Right-hander Zimmer earned pitcher of the week honors on the strength of his five-inning, 11-strikeout performance on October 13 at Glendale when he allowed only two hits and walked one. For week two, he had no decisions in two starts covering six innings in which he allowed 2 hits, 0 runs and 2 walks while striking out 12 and sporting a WHIP of 0.67.

The 6-3, 215-pound San Francisco, CA and University of San Francisco product sported a 2.79 ERA through his first three starts and a miserly .156 opponent batting average. He led the league in strikeouts (15), strikeouts per nine innings (13.97) and ranked second in innings pitched (9.2).

Zimmer was Kansas City’s first-round (fifth overall) selection in the 2012 draft. He missed all but six games of the 2014 regular season due to injury. Following week two, he was replaced on the Peoria roster by Royals’ left-handed pitching prospect Daniel Stumpf.

Other Nominees for Pitcher of the Week — Glendale RHP Zach Davies (Orioles), Salt River RHP Kaleb Fleck (D-backs) and Scottsdale RHP Tyler Glasnow (Pirates).


Posted by:Chad Jenningson Tuesday, October 21st, 2014 at 3:20 pm. InMisc with Comments Print This Post Print This Post | Email This Post Email This Post

Nixy’s going to the World Series (and other mid-day notes)

Jayson Nix

From The Associated Press — and various other outlets, but we’ll get the details from the AP — here’s a quick update on a familiar face.

KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) — Infielder Jayson Nix has been added to the Kansas City Royals’ active roster for the World Series against San Francisco in place of rookie Christian Colon.

The 32-year-old Nix hasn’t played since the wild-card playoff win over Oakland on Sept. 30, when he entered in the 10th inning and struck out in the 11th. Kansas City is his eighth major league team.

Colon sacrificed as a pinch hitter in the 10th inning of that game, then drove in the tying run with an infield single on a 12th-inning chopper as the Royals rallied to win 9-8. Colon’s only other postseason appearance was when he entered Game 2 of the AL Championship Series as a ninth-inning defensive replacement.

NLCS Cardinals Giants BaseballA few other quick notes from the World Series:

• Giants NLCS hero Travis Ishikawa was with the Yankees for only a few days, but he apparently has fond memories of the experience. “A first-class organization, they treated me great for the few days I was there,” Ishikawa told George King of the New York Post. “I remember the clubhouse being really big and I got lost there the first day.”

• You know how we were hit with a bunch of “The day the Yankees drafted Derek Jeter” stories this season? Well, here’s a Giants version of that story. It’s all about the day San Francisco drafted Buster Posey. Apparently the Giants had Posey at the very top of their board and got him with their fifth pick.

• A baseball clubhouse is a weird place, often caught between a work environment and a home-away-from-home. There’s a weird balance between work and play, and a clubhouse really has to have a little of both to keep the players from either getting lazy or going crazy. Our old friend Andy McCullough wrote a little bit about that balance within the Royals clubhouse, where players cut back on playing a video game mid-season, and that might actually have helped get their season on track.

• Oh, and sports make people do weird things. Two San Francisco radio stations have decided to stop playing Lorde’s song Royals during the World Series. Apparently Lorde actually wrote that song after seeing a picture of George Brett in a Royals uniform. The song’s a little bit old at this point anyway, right? Probably not that much demand to hear it for the next week and a half. But a nice little PR move for a couple of radio stations.

• Remember that Korean superfan who’s been following the Royals for years and showed up this season only to — as the story goes — help inspire a great stretch of winning in Kansas City? Well, whether you remember him or not, Sung Woo Lee is coming back to see the Royals in the World Series.

• Finally, here are the umpires for this series. Hunter Wendelstedt, Jerry Meals, Jim Reynolds and Eric Cooper will be working their first World Series. Jeff Kellogg will be the crew chief. Ted Barrett and Jeff Nelson will round out the crew.

Associated Press photos


Posted by:Chad Jenningson Tuesday, October 21st, 2014 at 2:22 pm. InMisc with Comments Print This Post Print This Post | Email This Post Email This Post

Sorting through Yankees arbitration and non-tender candidates

Michael Pineda

Yesterday, MLB Trade Rumors announced it’s typically reliable salary predictions for the seven Yankees who are arbitration eligible this winter. The MLBTR predictions aren’t fool-proof, and they aren’t necessarily exact, but over time we’ve learned that they tend to provide a pretty solid expectation for what an individual player stands to earn through offseason negotiations.

So with these figures in mind, which arbitration-eligible Yankees are most likely to be non-tendered this winter?

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

No logical chance of a non-tender. Last year’s elbow injury cost the Yankees a full season from one of their top young starting pitchers, but it also made him significantly less expensive in his second year of arbitration. Despite the injury, the Yankees will gladly sign up for $3.3 million on a pitcher who could be at least a strong No. 3-4 starter with the potential to go on a run of near-ace-like production for several weeks at a time. The injury might keep them from considering a multi-year deal at this point, but one year at this price is surely a no-brainer.

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

A $3.5-million commitment was enough for the Yankees to cut ties with Matt Thornton back in August, so the possibility of a $2.5-million deal with Kelley shouldn’t be completely dismissed. It’s not pocket change. That said, Kelley’s been a nice find for the Yankees bullpen. A back injury slowed him down for a while this year, but his key numbers — strikeout rate, walk rate, WHIP, etc. — were actually better in 2014 than in 2013. He’s a pretty reliable strikeout pitcher, and a one-year commitment to a reliever like this seems just about perfect at this point. The Yankees have some solid arms on the way, and one more year of Kelley might perfectly bridge the gap. No compelling reason to non-tender him.

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

Pretty big salary jump for a guy who’s made 13 big league starts since 2011. But that’s the nature of the business with a player who’s coming back from a long-term injury and a bunch of time on the 60-day disabled list. Ultimately, a little more than $2 million should be a bargain as long as Pineda stays healthy. And if he doesn’t, it probably means another chance for a similar low-risk, one-year contract next winter. Again, this one is a no-brainer. Pineda will certainly be back, and even with the injury concern and time missed, there’s no reason to balk at $2.1 million for a pitcher with Pineda’s proven talent.

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

Probably the strongest non-tender candidate of the bunch. Obviously the Yankees like Rogers’ arm — and at times they got terrific production out of him during his brief Yankees tenure last season — but he’s ultimately a 29-year-old with a 1.56 career WHIP, 5.54 career ERA, and a large enough sample size to suggest those numbers are a reasonable expectation for next year. Even if $1.9 million isn’t a ton of money, a one-year deal with Rogers probably isn’t the best way to spend it. Not with better options — or at least similar options — already in the system. The 40-man is going to be tight, money could be tight, and it’s probably not be worth using either a roster spot or a couple million bucks to retain Rogers. If the Yankees had less pitching depth, the situation might be different.

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

It seems Phelps just made it past the cutoff for early arbitration eligibility. I’m sure the Yankees would like one more year at the minimum, but I’m sure they also realize that Phelps is a really nice fit for them in the immediate future. He’s proven capable of filling any role, and this Yankees pitching staff should have a need for a long man who can either slide into the rotation or move into a late-inning role if necessary. That’s Phelps. As he more thoroughly defines himself one way or the other — and as his arbitration price goes up with each passing offseason — the Yankees will have a choice to make about how much he’s worth, but at slightly more than a million dollars, Phelps is still a good fit at a cheap price.

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

You know, Cervelli has really developed into a nice catcher. He’s played like a high-end backup or a low-end (with upside) starter. And $1.1 million isn’t too much to pay for a guy like that. Even as the Yankees surely need to make a decision behind the plate — makes sense to make a move with either Cervelli, John Ryan Murphy or Austin Romine — it would be a waste to simply non-tender Cervelli. Surely there’s trade value there, and even if the Yankees decide to cut him in spring training, arbitration-eligible players are never given guaranteed contracts, so the Yankees could move on a fraction of the price. Certainly worth signing a new contract, even if it’s also worth immediately trying to trade him.

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

Could be a non-tender candidate despite having a pretty nice year. Huff walks quite a few batters, and he doesn’t strike out a ton of guys, but he had a 1.31 WHIP and a 1.85 ERA during his stint with the Yankees (granted, with a much higher FIP and xFIP). Ultimately, he was fine. Nothing about his season suggests he’s not worth a modest raise to $700,000. That said, the Yankees always treated him like a last-man in the bullpen, and his career splits don’t suggest a reliable lefty specialist. Solid year, fairly cheap price, but could be non-tendered just to open a roster spot for someone else.

Associated Press photo



Posted by:Chad Jenningson Tuesday, October 21st, 2014 at 12:12 pm. InMisc with Comments Print This Post Print This Post | Email This Post Email This Post

Yankees might find plenty worth watching in World Series

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.


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.


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


Posted by:Chad Jenningson Tuesday, October 21st, 2014 at 8:59 am. InMisc with Comments Print This Post Print This Post | Email This Post Email This Post

Yankees spring training schedule set

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 or 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 or by calling Ticketmaster at (800) 745-3000. For ticket information, fans can call (813) 879-2244 or visit or

spring schedule


Posted by:Chad Jenningson Monday, October 20th, 2014 at 9:02 pm. InMisc with Comments Print This Post Print This Post | Email This Post Email This Post

Magadan reportedly out of running for Yankees staff

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.



Posted by:Chad Jenningson Monday, October 20th, 2014 at 5:04 pm. InMisc with Comments Print This Post Print This Post | Email This Post Email This Post

Feinsand: Gary Denbo becoming Yankees VP of baseball ops

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.


Posted by:Chad Jenningson Monday, October 20th, 2014 at 1:42 pm. InMisc with Comments Print This Post Print This Post | Email This Post Email This Post

Salary predictions for arbitration-eligible Yankees

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:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Associated Press photo


Posted by:Chad Jenningson Monday, October 20th, 2014 at 12:14 pm. InMisc with Comments Print This Post Print This Post | Email This Post Email This Post

Davis lands in Boston as Yankees continue hitting coach search

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.



Posted by:Chad Jenningson Monday, October 20th, 2014 at 9:25 am. InMisc with Comments Print This Post Print This Post | Email This Post Email This Post

Week in review: Short-term Yankee sends Giants to World Series


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


Posted by:Chad Jenningson Sunday, October 19th, 2014 at 9:03 am. InMisc with Comments Print This Post Print This Post | Email This Post Email This Post

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