The New York Yankees are becoming the Phillies’ farm system with Joe Girardi

New York Yankees, Didi Gregorius

Joe Girardi was the New York Yankees manager for nine years starting in 2008.  He brought the Yankees to a World Series win in his second year as manager in 2009.

As the team changed in the 2010s to a somewhat younger team, Joe fell out of favor with some of the “baby bombers” as being too hard on them.  In 2017 Girardi would win the Wild Card game and would then win the ALDS from the Indians. They would later play the Houston Astros in the ALCS.  The Yankees would lose games 6 and 7 in Houston and the series, in what is now embroiled in the Houston sign-stealing scandal.

Had the Yankees won that series, Joe’s job might not have been in jeopardy.  After the 2017 season, when his contract would be up, it would not be renewed.  Aaron Boone was hired as the new Yankee manager.  He has taken the team to two 100 win seasons garnering 103 wins last year the most since 1998.

After managing the Marlins and the Yankees, Joe would want to manage again, but not finding any suitable offers would go into broadcasting.  In 2018 he went to work for the MLB Network as a studio commentator.  While continuing his work with the MLB Network, he would join Fox Sports as a broadcaster for regular-season games for the 2019 season.  On October 24, 2019, the Philadelphia Phillies would announce Girardi as their new manager replacing Gabe Kapler.  During this offseason, Joe would find himself reuniting with some former Yankees.

Andrew McCutchen: McCutchen was an outfielder for the Yankees in 2018 after not being signed. He went with the Phillies.  A knee injury let him play in only 82 games.  He would require knee surgery and be out for the rest of the season.  McCutchen did not play for the Yankees when Joe was a manager.

David Robertson:  Girardi and Robertson have a history together.  One of Joe’s attributes was how to use his bullpen.  Joe, at times, used him as a setup man for Mariano Rivera and in other high impact situations.  They worked very well together.  That reuniting might have to wait a while as Roberson has undergone Tommy John surgery and will most likely be out most if not all of the 2020 season.

Didi Gregorius:  Joe also knows Didi Gregorius very well as Didi was the Yankee shortstop for three years while Joe was Yankees manager.  Yankee fans, for the most part, were sorry to see the Yankees not exercise his option.  He finally signed with the Phillies on December 29, 2019.  Gleyber Torres, as of now, will be taking his spot at short for the Yankees during the 2020 season.

Ronald Torreyes:  “Toe” is another Yankee player that Joe is very familiar with.  They played together for two years, from 2016 to 2017.  Joe liked Torreyes and utilized him frequently.  He played in 108 games in 2017.  When management changed, and Aaron Judge took over in 2018, Boone really didn’t use Torreyes, and he was released.  Ronald signed with the Twins for the 2019 season.  On January 7, 2020, he signed a minor league contract with the Phillies.  Knowing Joe and how he used Torreyes, I am sure he will get called up at some point in the season as a backup for Didi Gregorius.  Toe was not a home run hitter but was more contact getting on base.

For Joe, it won’t be like Old Timer’s Day, but at least Joe will have some former Yankees to make his new job seem somewhat familiar as he learns his new players and hopes to bring the Phillies to the postseason.

Boston Red Sox fire Alex Cora after admission to electronic sign stealing

Boston Red Sox, Alex Cora

Amid the Manfred report on the cheating of the Houston Astros and subsequent punishments issued by the MLB, the nine-page report showed the involvement of Alex Cora but did not issue any sanctions against him due to the Red Sox investigation was still ongoing.  The report mentioned Cora 11 times, describing him as a critical person in the planning and execution of the cheating scheme. The Red Sox organization last evening fired Alex Cora as the Red Sox Manager.

The Red Sox issued the following statement for owner John Henry:

“Given the findings and the commissioner’s ruling, we collectively decided that it would not be possible for Alex to effectively lead the club going forward and we mutually agreed to part ways,” the team said in a statement attributed to Cora  “We agreed today that parting ways was the best thing for the organization,” Cora said in a statement released by the Red Sox. “I do not want to be a distraction to the Red Sox as they move forward. “attributed to owner John Henry, chairman Tom Werner, CEO Sam Kennedy, and Cora.

Alex Cora guided the team to a franchise-record 108 regular-season victories in 2018 and its fourth World Series title in 15 years. The Red Sox beat a pair of 100-win teams in the Yankees and Astros in the AL playoffs, then defeated the Los Angeles Dodgers in a five-game World Series to make Cora the first Puerto Rican manager to win a championship and the fifth manager to guide a team to a title in his first season.  That win is now in question as the MLB continues to investigate.    Regardless of the final findings of Commissioner Manfred, Alex Cora is gone as Red Sox Manager.

John Henry also said, “This is a sad day for us,” Henry, Werner, and Kennedy said in a statement. “Alex is a special person and a beloved member of the Red Sox. We are grateful for his impact on our franchise. We will miss his passion, his energy, and his significant contributions to the communities of New England and Puerto Rico.”  The fall out from electric sign-stealing shows the MLB’s commitment to not allowing electronic involvement in sign-stealing and breaking MLB rules.

On Monday, Jim Crane owner of the Houston Astros fired Astros Manager A.J. Hinch and General Manager Jeff Luhnow after Manfreds nine-page report on the Astros sign-stealing accusations.  In the report, Cora was mentioned for his prime involvement in the directing of placing a center field camera that could relate catchers signs to a monitor just outside the Astros dugout;  The present investigation that is ongoing into whether the Red Sox used electronic methods of sign stealing in their win of the 2018 World Series may still have consequences for the Red Sox organization.

Examining the New York Mets’ best pitches, per Pitch Values

It is no secret that the New York Mets have some talented pitchers on their roster. However, have you wondered who has the team’s best pitches?

For this exercise, we will use Fangraphs’ Pitch Type Linear Weights, better known as Pitch Values. As they explain on their website, the section “attempts to answer the question, “How well has a batter/pitcher performed against/using a certain pitch?”  With this tool, we can get an idea of the total runs saved by a pitcher using that pitch.

We will also use Statcast data (exit velocity, whiff rate, xwOBA, and other stuff) to describe each pitch’s effect.

Without further ado, let’s list them!

New York Mets’ best pitches:

Seth Lugo’s fastball (Pitch Value: 20.2)

Lugo’s heater was something else in 2019. It had good velocity, but didn’t precisely blow people away at 94 mph on average. Its spin was also below average. But Lugo held opposing batters to a measly .148 average and a .250 slugging percentage. The pitch also had a good whiff rate of 29.2%. His command with the four-seamer was immaculate.

Jacob deGrom’s slider (Pitch Value: 20.0)

In 189 batted ball events, rivals hit .186 off the New York Mets’ ace slider, with a .276 SLG. His wOBA was .222, with an xWOBA of .225. The average exit velocity against the offering was a meager 83.3 mph. With a 33.8 K%, a 35.5 whiff rate and a 26.0 put-away%, he used it to finish hitters off and was very successful at it.

Jacob deGrom’s fastball (Pitch Value: 16.5)

DeGrom’s fastball has the velocity (96.9 mph on average, in the 95th percentile) spin (2388 rpm, in the 78th percentile) and command to be the foundation of his deadly arsenal. He held hitters to a .219 average with it, and had a whiff rate of 27.1%.

Jacob deGrom’s changeup (Pitch Value 11.1)

Yet another DeGrom’s pitch, who is sure pleasing the Mets with multiple plus offerings. Judging by xwOBA (.208) it was actually the Cy Young’s best pitch, holding hitters to a .186 average and a 86 mph average exit velocity. It also had the highest marks in K% (40.7) whiff rate (39.6) and put-away% (29.9) of his arsenal.

Noah Syndergaard’s changeup (Pitch Value: 6.8)

Hitters had a .208 average and a .333 slugging percentage against Thor’s changeup. The xwOBA was a paltry .248, and he had a whiff rate of 28.5 percent with the offspeed pitch. It is a perfect complement to the fastball (one of the hardest of the league) and the breaking stuff.

Justin Wilson’s cutter (Pitch Value: 6.6)

Wilson’s cutter comes at batters at 90.1 mph on average. However, it has 5.3 inches of horizontal movement, which is 180% more break than the average. The pitch held batters to a .197 average and a .258 xwOBA. The cutter, for Wilson, is a weak-contact getter, with average exit velocity at 81.8 mph.

Patrick Graham Will Also Serve as Giants’ Assistant Head Coach

New York Giants, Patrick Graham

The New York Giants continue to surprise in their hiring choices as the team embarks on one of the most pivotal seasons in their history. New head coach Joe Judge seems to be fairly certain of what he wants on his staff and who he wants to hire.

Thus far, Judge has played it close to the best hiring former colleagues and other familiar faces. Special teams coordinator  Thomas McGaughey was an in-house holdover who is a favorite of the Giants’ front office. Wide receivers coach Tyke Tolbert did an excellent job with the Giants’ wideouts this season, specifically in developing rookie Darius Slayton. Defensive line coach Freddie Roach worked with Judge on Nick Saban’s staff in Alabama a decade ago.

Outside of those three, Judge has leaned on his former New England cohorts bridging in Jerry Shuplinski to be the quarterbacks coach and Patrick Graham as his defensive coordinator.

Today, we’re learning that Graham will also serve as the Giants assistant head coach. From SNY.tv:

The 40-year-old has been given both those titles by new Giants head coach Joe Judge, according to multiple sources. That’s not only a sign of the respect Judge has for his new top assistant, but it also explains why he wasn’t blocked from leaving his job as defensive coordinator of the Miami Dolphins.

 

They couldn’t block Graham from leaving for a job that is technically a promotion.

Graham also will likely get a raise over the normal salary for a defensive coordinator, though the terms of his deal with the Giants were not available. It’s also unclear what other duties Judge will give his “assistant head coach.”

Graham was already employed when Judge came calling as the DC of the Miami Dolphins. The reason, as mentioned above,  the Giants were able to lure him away from the Dolphins without asking permission was likely due to the offer being a promotion.

The New York Knicks Bent But Didn’t Break Against The Miami Heat

New York Knicks, Dennis Smith Jr.

The New York Knicks came away victorious against the Miami Heat at MSG on Sunday, January 12th. The Knicks were playing from behind most of the game, however, the home team bent but didn’t break against Jimmy Butler and the Miami Heat on the Madison Square Garden floor.

The Knicks scored 72-points in the paint compared to Miami’s 46-points in the paint. Knicks also came away with 11-steals compared to Miami’s 2-steals. Both teams shot 82.1% from the free-throw line which shows improvement for the Knicks. However, the Knicks did struggle from three-point land hitting only 9-31 three-point field goals while Miami capitalized on 14-35 attempts from downtown. The largest lead for Miami was fourteen, but the Knicks didn’t break. Knicks stayed focused and rallied back in the second half behind Reggie Bullock. Bullock scored all sixteen of his points in the second half because Coach Mike Miller began running plays for the sharpshooter which led to success at a rapid rate from the three-point line.

Julius Randle scored 26-points and grabbed 8-rebounds in his first game back after spending time away from the team for personal reasons. Randle drained a big-time three-pointer which gave the Knicks a brief two-point lead with nearly two minutes left in the fourth quarter. RJ Barrett was locked in as well with 23-points as his rookie slump came to an abrupt end.

The Miami Heat surprisingly had supporters at MSG making an effort to drown out the noise of Knick fans. This might’ve led the Knick players to become even more locked in. Last time Knicks played the Heat in Miami, the Heat destroyed the men in orange and blue by a score of 129-114. Knicks made sure this time around the opposite would happen as they defeated the Miami Heat by the score of 124-121 at home in New York City. The victory is credited to a total team effort from top to bottom under Interim Coach Mike Miller along with his great game management.

New York Yankees: 3 relief pitchers the Yankees could add to the bullpen

New York Yankees, Sam Dyson

Before the start of the offseason, New York Yankees owner Hal Steinbrenner made it apparent that GM Brian Cashman would have the green light to sign star pitcher, Gerrit Cole. Subsequently, the Bombers locked him down on a nine-year, $324 million deal. However, a contract of this substantiating size means that the remainder of free agency will be slow, and it has been beyond the retention of Brett Gardner.

While the Yankees have dabbled in the relief pitcher market, considering trade rumors revolving around Brewers’ Josh Hader, nothing has materialized.

Here are three bullpen options the New York Yankees could look into:

1.) Sam Dyson

Before joining the Minnesota Twins last season, where he featured in 12 games, he put up stellar numbers with the San Francisco Giants, earning a 2.47 ERA over 49 games. The transition to the Twins didn’t go as smoothly, but he can still be a stellar option for the Yanks in the bullpen.

Dyson is an appealing option in high-leverage situations. His high groundball rate and low walk numbers result in elevated double play conversions and low home run totals. His 2.74 FIP represents how well he played for the Giants before being traded to Minnesota. Also, his 1.1 WAR ranks 19th among 165 qualified relievers — factor in his filthy sinker and cutter, and the Yankees might have room for him on the roster.

2.) Brandon Kintzler

Another attractive free-agent target is Kintzlier, who spent all of 2019 with the Chicago Cubs, where he logged a 2.68 ERA over 57 innings. Kintzler has been up and down the past few seasons, but he would come at a cheaper price-tag (maybe in the $8-10 million range).

His HR/9 ratio spiked a bit in 2019, the highest its been since 2016. With the new rule that a pitcher must feature in the entire inning once they’re called in, he could pose a problem if he loses control. However, it’s worth kicking the tired on the 35-year-old, who had a solid campaign last year. He features a fastball and slider, both of which hover in the lower 90’s. The Yanks prefer strong-armed pitchers, but Kintzler has reliable control, making up for the dip in velocity.

3.) Yoshihisa Hirano

At 35-years-old, Hirano isn’t the spring chicken he once was, but he’s put together some successful outings over the last two seasons. Having spent only two seasons in the MLB, his sample size is quite small, but in 2018, he was dominant.

Hirano logged a 2.44 ERA and 3.69 FIP in his lone quality seasons. However, he would be extremely cheap and could be used for his split-finger fastball, which sees an 8PMH drop off from his fastball (91.2 –> 83.9). His 10.39 K/9 ratio was impressive last season, which means he racks up the strikeouts. If the Yankees aren’t trying to break the bank, he’s an option worth looking into.

The Yankees go the Complicated Route Making Brett Gardner a 2020 Yankee

New York Yankees, Brett Gardner

As I asked earlier this month, why were the Yankees waiting so long to make Brett Gardner a member of the 40 man roster in the 2020 campaign? Well, they finally did it. But they went about it in the most convoluted and more difficult fashion.

They DFAed a Player Rather Than The Logical Approach

Moving Aaron Hicks to the IL was the logical approach to make room for Brett Gardner for the 2020 season. But… they defied Vulcan logic. Instead, they decided to DFA left-hander Stephen Tarpley to make room for the return of the Gardy Party. Again, you move a player to the IL, it clears a spot on the 40 man roster for whomever you want. But they decided to get complicated rather than do the obvious simple thing.

Why Moving Hicks to the IL Was the Simple Thing

The Yankees HAVE to have a 40 man roster full of 40 players. They aren’t allowed to have 39 players active on the team until Hicks comes back to the big club. But, I see some logic to DFAing Tarpley. 2020 sees the beginning of the “a relief pitcher HAS to face 3 batters or finish an inning” rule, implemented by the Commissioners office. Tarpley was brought in to face left-handed batters somewhat exclusively. I’ve believed for a long time if you can’t get left-handed hitters AND right-handed hitters out as a major league pitcher, you are wasting a spot on the 40 man roster.

But who’s going to fill Hicks’s spot on the 40 until Hicks can come back from rehab? The Yankees HAVE to answer this question sooner rather than later. Cutting a player later in the year to accommodate Hicks (in lets say August) makes more sense than effectively cutting a player now, still a month before pitchers and catchers report for Spring Training. The Yankees, for whatever reason, have decided “Complicated position moves are how we want to operate” for the longest time now. And it still baffles me, about a decade later.

Just stop screwing around with the psyche of your pitching staff. You’ll have stronger starting pitchers and relievers as a result.

New York Giants: Mike Shula Interviews To Keep Offensive Coordinator Position

The New York Giants are currently in the process of rebuilding their coaching staff. They fired head coach Pat Shurmur at season’s end and replaced him with Joe Judge. Joe Judge explained during his introductory what he is looking for in his coaching staff: teachers.

So far, the Giants have made multiple key hirings, including Patrick Graham as defensive coordinator. Judge also made sure to secure Jerry Schuplinski as quarterbacks coach, the man responsible for developing Jimmy Garoppolo and Jacoby Brissett into starters.

It was interesting to see the Giants hire their quarterbacks coach without having an offensive coordinator already in place. The offensive coordinator is a critical coaching position on any team. They typically call the plays on offense and oversee the development of numerous key players on the offensive side of the ball.

As of today, the Giants have begun their search for the team’s next offensive coordinator. Maybe the Giants will not even make a change at this position. Joe Judge interviewed current offensive coordinator Mike Shula today, giving Shula the possibility of retaining his job (Jordan Raanan of ESPN).

Mike Shula as Offensive Coordinator

Mike Shula has been with the New York Giants for two years now. He was hired in 2018 to serve as the team’s offensive coordinator and quarterbacks coach under head coach Pat Shurmur. With Shurmur gone, some believed the Giants would go in a different direction, and they still might, but Judge is covering all the bases and giving Shula a chance to keep his job.

Shula would not be the only member of Shurmur’s staff to be retained. Joe Judge is also keeping special teams coordinator Thomas McGaughey and wide receivers coach Tyke Tolbert. Mike Shula is not exactly a fan favorite like Tolbert and McGaughey, but fans should keep an open mind.

Mike Shula is a veteran offensive coordinator with head coaching experience at Alabama. He served as an offensive coordinator for the Carolina Panthers and helped Cam Newton reach MVP status in 2015 before coming to New York.

Another vital factor to note in potentially retaining Mike Shula is Daniel Jones’s development. Shula was the quarterbacks coach in 2019 and helped Daniel Jones develop quickly into a starting quarterback. Hiring Mike Shula in 2020 allows the Giants to keep some continuity for Daniel Jones on the coaching staff.

Pat Shurmur called plays for the Giants in 2018 and 2019. Mike Shula did not get an opportunity to demonstrate his play-calling ability to Giants fans. Shula’s role was as a play-designer and collaborative game-planner. Shula coached some inconsistent offenses in Carolina and struggled at times with “rhythm and timing,” which could negatively affect his efficiency as a play-caller (nj.com). But for the sake of keeping continuity for Daniel Jones, it is worth it to at least interview Mike Shula and consider him as a candidate for the offensive coordinator position.

New York Knicks: Interim Coach Mike Miller Provides Great Game Management

New York Knicks, Mike Miller

New York Knicks Interim Coach Mike Miller is staring at a 7-11 record since taking over the head coaching job of the New York Knicks. There’s definitely one huge difference between prior Knicks coach David Fizdale and current coach Mike Miller. The difference is Mike Miller’s game management ability. The ability to manage game momentum and putting personnel in positions to succeed is special and also underrated.

Knicks when healthy are looking like a different team under Mike Miller. Yes, they’ve suffered a few bad losses, however, those losses don’t negate the fact that the Knicks have tremendous respect and are playing hard for their fairly new coach. Plays are even being executed after timeouts and that is very crucial in terms of swinging momentum and managing games.

Some fans are still complaining about certain substitutions Mike Miller makes. However, the Knicks current roster consists of several logjams position-wise and it doesn’t make it easy to figure out rotations. Yet Mike Miller somehow makes lemonade with the lemons he’s provided with.

Two adjustment’s I’ve noticed a slight improvement in is how the Knicks defend the three-point line and the spacing offensively. Mike Miller is a developmental/fundamental kind of coach and slight improvements/adjustments for the young players on this Knicks roster is definitely priceless.

Overall, the former 2017-18 G-League Coach of the Year is getting his feet wet with the young roster. Miller’s college coaching experience can only bode well for his approach to the game amongst young players. The Knicks are currently in talent acquisition mode after the Fizdale firing. Therefore, Mike Miller is in the right place due to the tremendous opportunity to hone and develop talent.

Yankees news, rumors: CC Sabathia joins front office, Aaron Boone responds to Astros punishment

New York Yankees, Yankees, CC Sabathia

The New York Yankees enjoyed the punishments laid down on the Houston Astros on Monday afternoon, especially slugger Aaron Judge, who deleted an Instagram post congratulating Jose Altuve for winning the 2017 MVP award. Call it pettiness or a just action, but Judge is right to expunge the cheating Astros from his page and conscious. Altuve’s sign-stealing could have helped him win the MVP, and winning the World Series undoubtedly helped his chances at receiving the award.

Manager Aaron Boone’s feelings were in sync with Judge’s, as he felt vindicated, according to YES Network analyst, Buck Showalter.

“I know that (Boone) feels a little vindicated about some of his suspicions,” Showalter said Monday night on Yankees Hot Stove.

The reality is, Houston broke the ethical code of the game on a grand scale, using methods to reach the pinnacle of baseball and steal an accomplishment that other teams worked hard to gain. All sides have their ways of decoding signs and gaining an edge, but going against the rule book in a blatant monitor in the dugout way is inexcusable.

Asked to detail his talk with Boone, Showalter added, “Oh, it was just a one-way street. It was just a text. I don’t want to get into any of that, but I did mention it because I know during that time he was pretty vocal about some of it and was kind of ridiculed by some of the Astros people.

“So I think looking back on it, I know that the Yankees fans so to speak … I know it bothers me. Think of all the people that it touched, people that lost their jobs. I’ve heard from a lot of them who are quite upset about it.”

CC Sabathia expands his role with the New York Yankees:

“I want to be a part of the Yankees still, front office, whatever, however we can work that out,” Sabathia told The Post last May.

Sabathia will join the Yankees’ staff as a special advisor to GM Brian Cashman, which was expected upon his retirement following the team’s exit from the 2019 ALCS. Sabathia should provide ample value in the front office, as his relationships with players and knowledge of the game are unparalleled.