With Players Beginning to Return, the New York Yankees Face Tough Decisions

New York Yankees, Aaron Hicks

The New York Yankees faced and are still facing an injury crisis, but soon a lot of their stars will be back. However, it will likely be three outfielders to return next. How will the Yankees work this out? Also, once Didi Gregorius comes back, which infielder will go?

The decisions:

Clint Frazier will be returning from a brief IL stint on Monday, and the Yankees sent Stephen Tarpley down for the corresponding move. But, Tarpley isn’t an outfielder, he’s a pitcher.

Tyler Wade has currently been playing the outfield, but I believe that he will begin to play the infield again. People thought for sure though that Mike Tauchman would go once Frazier returns, but Aaron Boone has confirmed that his time as a Yankee has not expired just yet.

Once Aaron Hicks returns in ~10 days, it will certainly be Tauchman’s time to go. A .176 average ain’t gonna cut it in the MLB, especially with Cameron Maybin hitting .333 while playing good defense. Maybin will 100% stay over Tauchman. Maybin is a proven outfielder with a lot of MLB experience.

But once Giancarlo Stanton returns, sometime shortly after Hicks, it will likely be Maybin’s time to go. They may be able to trade Maybin and get some cash or a prospect, because he deserves a spot on a MLB team, but won’t have one with a healthy Yankee squad.

Didi will begin his rehab assignment in a few weeks, and once he returns it will either be Tyler Wade’s or Gio Urshela’s time to go. Didi should be on the active roster in about a month or so.

I think that it should be Wade that goes because, well, Urshela has outplayed him in almost every aspect. Wade is a great base-runner and is very aggressive, but Urshela is more defensively sound and boasts a .338 batting average.

Wade just hasn’t proven himself enough to maintain a spot on a healthy roster, and needs to hit better to spend more time in the MLB. He is also beginning to run low on minor league options, so that could potentially be a problem in the near future.

And once you remove Wade, Gleyber can shift back to second and DJ can be the utility man the Yankees wanted.

Once more players become healthy, the Yankees will face several tough roster decisions. But, Brian Cashman doesn’t make very many bad decisions and you should trust that he will continue to make the right ones.

New York Yankees Smack Seven Home Runs to Beat Orioles

The New York Yankees came out swinging on a sunny Sunday in the DMV, hitting seven home runs to beat the Orioles 15-3.

Scary Gary

Gary Sanchez led the New York Yankees by smacking three home runs, while just missing a fourth in the final inning. Two of his long balls came off a fastball, one first pitch, and the third was off a slider.

Clint Frazier built off of Saturday’s game by going 4-for-5 with two home runs and an RBI single. Gleyber Torres went 2-for-5 with a home run, and Austin Romine mashed a home run in the ninth.

New Yankee Giovanny Urshela added an RBI while going 2-for-3 as well as playing a good third base.

The Yankees accumulated 15 hits while drawing nine walks during the game, with Gardner drawing three. Aaron Judge went 0-for-4, but didn’t strikeout at all.

Luke Voit went 1-for-5, and despite him having a .182 average, he has reached safely in all but two games thus far.

Dominant Domingo

Domingo German was dominant on Sunday in possibly his best start yet. He pitched 6+ innings, allowing two hits and two runs. German actually had a no-hitter going through 5 1/3 innings. In the seventh inning, he gave up a hit and a walk before he was pulled.

Once pulled, Steven Tarpley came in and allowed both runs to score, as well as one of his own runs as he struggled to make it through the seventh.

Luis Cessa came in for the eighth and ninth, giving up just one hit. Cessa is looking better and better each time out, and we are finally starting to see why Brian Cashman thinks so highly of him.

Speaking of Brian Cashman, the Yankees won their 2,000th game with Cashman as the GM. What an accomplishment for one of the best general managers in all of sports.

The Yankees now travel down to Houston to take on the Astros in a three game series. Masahiro Tanaka gets the ball for the Yankees against Houston ace Justin Verlander. First pitch is set at 7:00PM (ET) on ESPN, Watch ESPN, YES Network, and FOX Sports Go.

New York Yankees: Brian Cashman Used Machado/Harper As Smoke Screen In Free Agency

New York Yankees, Yankees, Brian Cashman

The superstar free agent pool has dwindled to the likes of pitcher Dallas Keuchel, as the Manny Machado and Bryce Harper sweepstakes have finally come to an end. The New York Yankees were reportedly interested in signing one of the generational talents to a monster deal, but at the end of the day, it was all smoke and mirrors.

General manager Brian Cashman maneuvered his way into securing two solid veterans for a fraction of the price set for Machado or Harper. The two players he signed, Troy Tulowitzki and Dj LeMahieu, offer great value in the short term.

The New York Yankees were already a great team…

The Yankees were a 100 win team in 2018, something that’s forgotten when big name free agents come dancing around New York. Upgrading the team certainly cost Cashman money, as he spent over $150 million improving the bullpen and infield defense. Both Tulo and LeMahieu add five Gold Gloves to the infield and pitchers Adam Ottavino and James Paxton will provide immediate support to an already solid pitching corps.

But, the most impressive aspect of Cashman’s offseason was the way he used the media to smoke screen other teams. As the news outlets picked up that the Yanks were interested in a big free agent signing, Cashman quietly snuck out the back door and secured players that would help the team win now and not plague them with money issues in five years.

Short term deals can be the best kind:

Tulowitzki is on a veteran minimum deal and LeMahieu signed a two-year, $24 million deal. These short term contracts are all centered around earning a 28th ring for the men in Pinstripes.

When asked if the Yankees were ever interested in Bryce Harper, Cashman simply said, “no.” The general manager has seemingly become frustrated with continuous questions regarding free agency.

“I’m closing the chapter on these questions about high-end free agency in the winter,” Cashman stated on Sunday afternoon. “I feel like we’ve vetted that enough. Sorry. I’d rather focus on the here and now, and the real, rather than the unreal.”

With the starting team looking to already be in mid-season form, it’s expected that the Yankees will be a serious World Series contender. Players like Tulo and LeMahieu have already shown their value in spring training, especially the former who knocked a ball out of the park on his very first at-bat with the Bombers. Go figure.

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New York Yankees: Highlighting the biggest position battles entering Spring Training

New York Yankees, Aaron Hicks

With Spring Training beginning and position players reporting just days from now, a lot of questions remain for the New York Yankees on how the 25 man roster may play out, and on who may start where. Today we dive into the four biggest position battles the Yankees face this spring.

Left field and the extra outfielder:

It remains very obvious that Aaron Judge and Aaron Hicks will start in right field and center field, assuming Brian Cashman doesn’t sign Bryce Harper. After Brett Gardner had a rather poor season and Clint Frazier is healthy again, we have ourselves a rookie vs. veteran for a starting outfield position.

Clint Frazier reported on twitter a few weeks ago that he is “cleared to participate in spring training”. Red Thunder has overall had success in his time called-up from AAA, and had a walk-off home run in 2017. Frazier often served as the Yankees “26th man” on doubleheader days last year, without using a minor league option. Frazier bat .265 last season in the majors in 34 at-bats.

Brett Gardner bat just .236 last season, well below his .261 career average. By the end of last season, it seemed that he couldn’t really hit a thing, and with the acquisition of Andrew McCutchen, he saw his playing time go way down in September. In Game 1 of the ALDS, Aaron Hicks went down with a pulled hamstring, forcing Gardner to start games two and three. He ended up going 0-for-8.

You also have Jacoby Ellsbury. He would be more of an option to be the “extra outfielder”, but with him playing poorly over the years and him already having injury issues this season, he is already behind and prone to get hurt again and struggle.

First Base:

The Yankees have a two-man race for the first base position, and from what we saw last season, Yankees fans assume that it will be Luke Voit starting at first base over Greg Bird.

In all of 2018 (Cardinals and Yankees), Luke Voit bat .322 with 15 home runs in 143 at-bats. His incredible strength and power helped fill the slack of the injured Aaron Judge when he joined, but the success didn’t stop once Judge returned. Having Voit in the lineup gives the Yankees three players who can hit the ball all the way into downtown Manhattan.

Greg Bird has been, well……. playing rather poor in his MLB career. He is batting a career .214 in 576 at-bats, and bat just .199 last season. Voit had double the stats of Bird last season in about half as many at-bats. If Bird has a poor spring, could this finally be the end for Bird with the Yankees? Sending him down may be a bad option, the Yankees actually have two great first basemen at the AAA level in Mike Ford and Ryan McBroom, Ford being invited to the major league camp. It’s always possible that the super-underdog could steal the show.

DJ Lemahieu does remain a viable option, but he will focus more on the middle infield. Aaron Boone did say in his first press conference something along the lines of Andujar learning first base a bit, but it isn’t a focus for him or the team. Any way in which the Yankees choose to go; there will be depth.

The middle-infield cluster

The Yankees have four middle infielders for just two starting spots. Those players are Troy Tulowitzki, DJ Lemahieu, Gleybar Torres, and Tyler Wade.

The Yankees kinda shocked the baseball world and signed Troy Tulowitzki for a one year deal, to help fill-in for the injured Didi Gregorius, who appears to be making great progress in his recovery. But Tulo himself has had injury problems, and his stats have been on a decline over the last four years. His fielding, however, remains one of the best in the league. Could he maybe start at shortstop this season? Anything is possible.

Then there is last years starting second base sensation, Gleybar Torres. Remember, he came up as a shortstop and moved to second base due to Didi Gregorius. So with that, he may be the Yankees opening day shortstop with Lemahieu or possibly Wade at second.

Lemahieu remains the most likely option for the opening day second base spot, as that’s where he played with the Rockies for the most part. The only concern in the play of Lemahieu is his struggles away from Coors Field, where he hit so well it. But many Yankees players who can deal with the New York pressure hit well at Yankees Stadium with the short porches making the stadium extremely hitter-friendly.

Tyler Wade will likely not be a starter for the Yankees but should find his way onto the team and the field. He has a pretty solid glove, is a great base-runner, and his versatility can take him out of the infield and into the outfield when need be. His hitting has struggled big time in the majors, but he should be a solid non-offensive option.

A middle relief spot or two is still available

The Yankees have a lot of power guys that are known to help in the final innings but still lack a few middle relief options. Your power relievers are Aroldis Chapman, Dellin Betances, Zack Britton, and Adam Ottavino. Chad Green and Jonathan holder are high leverage, middle relief guys. You have one or two spots available for low leverage situations, let’s see what they have:

In 2017, the Yankees acquired Tommy Kahnle in a trade with the White Sox. He was great in 2017, but an early-season injury in 2018 derailed his season. Once he returned, he never got his high 90s velocity back and spent most of the season in AAA. This season would be a perfect time for a comeback season.

Danny Farquhar missed most of the 2018 season with the White Sox with a brain aneurysm. The Yankees signed him to a minor league deal this Winter with an invite to camp. His career ERA is 3.93, and is pitching with a chip on his shoulder this season. He could be a valuable asset for the Yankees bullpen, too.

Chance Adams pitched just one game last season: an emergency start against the Red Sox, and struggled as presumed. He had ups and downs last season at AAA, but I don’t think he is MLB ready yet. He would be used however as a long reliever if he made the club.

Stephen Tarpley started last season in AA, but made it up all the way come September. Once he got adjusted, he was actually really good, especially against lefties. He would be a great lefty specialist option. If he pitched like he did last season, he should have a good shot at the MLB club.

My 25 man roster prediction:

SP: Severino, Tanaka, Paxton, Happ, CC

RP: Chapman, Betances, Britton, Ottavino, Green, Holder, Tarpley

C: Sanchez, Romine

INF: Voit, Torres, DJ, Wade, Tulo, Andujar

OF/DH: Judge, Stanton, Hicks, Gardner, Frazier

26th man: Ellsbury? Kahnle?

Breaking News: Aaron Hicks to the DL

New York Yankees, Aaron Hicks

The Yankees Opening Day center fielder Aaron Hicks has been played on the 10-Day Disabled List with a Right intercostal muscle strain.

This injury to Hicks marks the third New York Yankees outfielder that has been injured so far this season. Hicks along with Jacoby Ellsbury (oblique) and Clint Frazier (concussion) are all on the DL currently.

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This injury allows rookie outfielder and novice first baseman Billy McKinney to be called up. McKinney played well this Spring. McKinney had five home runs this Spring and with that performance he will be making his major League debut tonight, starting in Left Field and batting seventh.

The Yankees once “Crowded” outfield that was questioned how guys would get any playing time is now evening out. The Yankees will shift Gardner over to center field for the time being.

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The Yankees have a ton of Minor League depth thanks to Brian Cashman and his brilliant. That depth will now be put to an early test.

Getting to Know Your Yankee Pitching Coach: Larry Rothschild

Background:

Lawrence (Larry) Lee Rothschild (born March 12, 1954) is a former Major League pitcher, coach, and manager. Rothschild played for the Detroit Tigers in parts of the 1981 and 1982 seasons.

Rothschild then worked as a coach with the Cincinnati Reds from 1986 through 1993, Larry was also a part of the coaching staff of the World Series winning Reds in 1990 serving as the team’s bullpen coach for their sweep of the Oakland A’s.

The former pitcher also worked with the Atlanta Braves as a pitching instructor in 1995 before joining the then Florida Marlins in 1995 through 1997, where he won another World Series ring with the Fish against the New York Yankees.

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Rothschild was then tasked with becoming the manager of the newly formed Tampa Bay Devil Rays for their inaugural season in 1998. Larry managed in Tampa from 1998 until the early part of the 2001 season. Tampa decided to move on from Larry as manager and he spent the remainder of 2001 as a consultant with the Florida Marlins. In 2002 Rothschild was brought on to be the pitching coach for the Chicago Cubs.

Fast forwarding to the 2011 season Rothschild then signed on with the New York Yankees to serve as their pitching coach. Under Rothschild’s tenure, the Yankees pitching staff has posted a ERA of  3.73 in 2011, 3.84 in 2012, 3.94 in 2013, 3.75 in 2014, 4.03 in 2015, 4.16 in 2016, and 3.72 in 2017 . Rothschild was kept as pitching coach to serve along side of new manager Aaron Boone.

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Pitching Coach? What Does He Do ?

According to the MLB.com Glossary the definition of what the Pitching Coach is:

“Pitching coaches instruct their pitchers on pitching mechanics, pitch selection and preparation while also providing insight into the weaknesses of opposing hitters — often with the help of video technology.”

“Pitching coaches can alter a pitcher’s arm angle, placement on the pitching rubber or pitch selection in an effort to improve his performance or durability. During a game, the pitching coach assists the manager in making decisions pertaining to the starting pitcher and relief corps. He will also make occasional visits to the mound to help calm down or provide advice to a struggling pitcher.”

What to Expect ?

Larry Rothschild is widely regarded as a great pitching coach. With his experience as a former manager and years as a pitching coach, Larry will be a key asset to Aaron Boone in his maiden voyage as a big league skipper. Rothschild can be expected to help his pitchers maintain a high level of production throughout the season. And also to be that veteran coaching experience for the relatively inexperienced coaching staff.

New York Yankees: The Ellsbury Effect

Decisions, Decisions, Decisions…

With the start of the Major League regular season a week away, the New York Yankees have a decision that needs to be made:

Who is making the roster to replace the oft injured Jacoby Ellsbury? Jacoby was at one time and six hours North of the Bronx a very productive Major League ballplayer. However, throughout his time in the pinstripes, Ellsbury has been less than a shell of his former self.

Ellsbury has played for the Yankees across four seasons, in that time he has only managed to have one season above “replacement level” production (2014), according to Baseball Reference’s OPS+. 2014 was Jacoby’s first season in the Bronx and his last truly productive season.

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Now, with Ellsbury set to begin the season on the shelf, this opens up a spot on the 25-man roster to “Break Camp” with the team heading North. Manager Aaron Boone told members of the media that Tyler Wade has made the ball club. Many believe that he will be the starting second baseman on Opening Day in Toronto on March 29th.


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The Yankees current roster consists of:

Catchers: Gary Sanchez & Austin Romine
First Baseman: Greg Bird
Second Basemen: Tyler Wade & Neil Walker
Third Baseman: Brandon Drury
Shortstop: Didi Gregorius & Ronald Torreyes
Left Fielder: Brett Gardner
Center Fielder: Aaron Hicks
Right Fielders: Aaron Judge & Giancarlo Stanton
Starting Pitcher: Luis Severino, Mashiro Tanaka, CC Sabathia, Sonny Gray & Jordan Montgomery
Relief Pitchers: David Robertson, Dellin Betances, Tommy Kahnle, Chad Green, Adam Warren & Chasen Shreve
Closer: Aroldis Chapman

Who Gets A Shot ?

That gives you 24 out of 25 players to start out the 2018 season for the New York Yankees. The injury to Ellsbury leaves an opening. Some who have thought that it could have been someone like Tyler Austin who was having a tremendous Spring, but he was reassigned back to Minor League camp on March 21st before the Yankees game against the Orioles. This however does leave the opening for the starter in the same game…. Luis Cessa.

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Cessa has been up and down for the Yankees since his acquisition by the Yankees in December of 2015. Cessa has pitched 106 innings for the Yankees to the tune of a 4.49 era. Luis will have an opportunity to show what he has earlier in the season as the Yankees will have five straight games to open up the start of the regular season.

The injury to Ellsbury could have been the golden ticket to the Bronx for a premium talent like Clint Frazier, however, they both went down at similar times and have stayed out recovering. Clint won’t be getting that opportunity.

This season will be a defining point for Clint Frazier, as with the number of outfielders already on the Major League roster and an impending free agent who hasn’t been shy about stating his fandom for the Pinstripes looming. Frazier once healed up from his concussion must set the world by storm, if he has any hopes of staying in Pinstripes.

Lasting Impression:

Jacoby, much like Clint Frazier, has seen the writing on the wall. And while his contract is rather cumbersome, it’s not impossible to think GM Brian Cashman can sell his talents to another team and move his monetary obligations elsewhere.

Ellsbury’s injury will be a foreshadowing of the potential future the Yankees will have. If the first few weeks of the season pass and Ellsbury has not returned vying that 25th spot on the roster, he may be replaced by a rising prospect.

Jacoby Ellsbury will have a major effect on the Yankees success this season; when healthy he could be a productive fourth outfielder, if unhealthy his spot will provide the launching pad for the top prospects in the top sixth farm system in all of baseball.

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3 Keys to Success for the 2018 New York Yankees

New York Yankees, Aaron Judge

Started From the Bottom Now We’re Here:

Prior to the start of the 2017 season the New York Yankees were a young team in unfamiliar territory; they were supposed to be rebuilding. A team on the verge of competition but not quite yet ready to contend. However, how wrong those “experts” were, the 2017 New York Yankees came within one game of reaching the World Series.

So we turn the page to the 2018 season for the New York Yankees to continue their success from 2017, and go even further in the upcoming 2018 season.

These are the top 3 keys to that success:

  • Consistency

The key to any winning season in baseball does have an element of luck to it. There’s the old idiom that sometimes it’s better to be lucky than good. And for the Yankees first baseman Greg Bird, he has been extremely unlucky during his brief Major League tenure.  If Bird can stay consistently healthy in 2018, he will have an opportunity to have a huge impact on the Yankees chance at a World Series win.

Gary Sanchez has done a wonderful job during Spring Training of providing consistent defense, namely blocking balls in the dirt. Blocking balls was the one part of Sanchez’ game that plagued him last season.

Sanchez put in work this off-season to become more flexible to assist him with this defensive lapse from last season. So, if Gary can continue to put the effort toward his journey to improvement, we could see a drastically different catcher behind the plate, defensively.

All rise the honorable Aaron Judge is now presiding over his court!

Aaron had an incredible and historic rookie campaign. He dealt with the peaks that allowed him to dine with Zeus in Olympus and the pits that saw him battle with Hades in Hell.

This season, Aaron looked more determined than before. In the Spring of 2017 Judge came in battling for a job with the inscription of his .179 batting average as motivation. This spring, Judge remains motivated by the six weeks that costed him the opportunity to be not only the unanimous selection for Rookie of the Year, but also MVP, along with his personal desire to not be a one hit wonder.

If Judge can find that happy medium from his highs and lows of 2017, there’s only one thing to say, quoting the retiring Yankees commentator Kenny Singleton “LOOKOUT.”

  • In Cashman We Trust

In following up the 2017 campaign, the Yankees will no longer be sneaking up on teams as a underdog story. The rest of the world is now aware of what the entire Yankee Universe already knew, and that’s that the New York Yankees do everything better than the rest of baseball.

The Yankees “rebuild” lasted all of 6 months (maybe). When the Yankees began to “sell off” players during the trade deadline of 2016, everyone thought that this would be the time the Bombers reset and journey through what the Chicago Cubs or the Houston Astros endured, a full tear down and reset. But the Yankees magical wizard of a General Manager Brian Cashman had other plans.

Cashman stock piled top echelon talent very quickly taking a farm system ranked 21st by Baseball Prospectus back in 2015. Now with having graduated talent to the Major Leagues, the Yankees are still the number six farm system according to MLB Pipeline.

Cashman has also been able to provide the Yankees with real talent for not a real devastating cost. Cash recently acquired Brandon Drury in a deal eerily similar to the deal that brought us Didi Gregorius several years back. Cashman and his lieutenants have been able to bring the organization to a level of real sustainability without overpaying for talent.

Which brings us to the final key point of the Yankees ability to be successful in 2018.

  • Dominance in Development

As previously stated, Cashman and his team have been able to draft and trade for some very high level talent. Talent that will ultimately help the team in one way or another.

There are three camps in the Yankees Universe, there are your “George-ian Candidates” who say trade every prospect to bring in high priced established veterans who can provide consistent year in and year out numbers.

There are the “Prospect Huggers” that don’t want to spend on any free agents that may block the kids. And lastly there are the “Cashman-ites” (credit to Mike Calendrillo of YGY for this name) who believes that the “Cream of the Crop” (using my best Macho Man Randy Savage voice) top prospects will stick and some of the others will be used in trade.

No matter what camp you fall into there’s no denying that the following prospects will have an impact on the Yankees World Series aspirations in 2018 and beyond. (The players below will be ranked based on their MLB Pipeline rankings).

  1. Gleyber Torres
  2. Estevan Florial
  3. Justus Sheffield
  4. Miguel Andújar
  5. Chance Adams (6th overall behind RHP Albert Abreu)

Another guy who is no longer a prospect but who’s development will determine his place on this team in 2018 and going forward is Clint Frazier. Frazier plays will a lot of fire and intensity, some of his behaviors/mannerisms rub people the wrong way, but I believe that if Frazier can stay hungry and humble he can be an incredible player in Pinstripes.