Credit: Eric Christian Smith/Associated Press
Team Prospect-Hugger could get a new look the last two weeks of July. In an interview, Yankees Managing General Partner Hal Steinbrenner indicated that he’ll look at any deal that crosses his desk during the final two weeks of July. He’ll read the scouting reports, talk to GM Brian Cashman and the Scouting Department and tap into other resources to determine the best moves for the Yankees organization moving forward. He said that he’ll divert all of his attention to any one deal that comes across his desk as he has always done in the couple of weeks leading up to the trading deadline. It doesn’t mean that he’ll approve a deal but he’ll certainly give more than a passing thought to any deal that makes sense.
Steinbrenner sees the value in holding onto the team’s prospects as they have done for the last three or four years.
With significant dollars coming off the payroll at the end of the year ($59 million alone with the expiring contracts of CC Sabathia, Matt Holliday, and Alex Rodriguez), Steinbrenner feels the Yankees will be active in the free agent market. “To what degree, and in what areas remains to be seen”, said Steinbrenner, in talking with reporters.
I am probably somewhere in between Hal and his father, George. I’d be more inclined to make moves to strengthen weaker areas. But I’d also be trying to find ways to unload dead weight off the roster. Spending $46 million for CC Sabathia’s unreliable performances and Alex Rodriguez’s “consulting services” is a bad return on investment in a statement of the obvious. Why don’t they just increase it to $47 million and toss me the difference? I would certainly have a more company-aligned outlook and they would be no worse for the wear. I am looking forward to next year when a greater percentage of the payroll goes to active, contributing members of the team’s 25-man roster.
Even though Steinbrenner may not be open to considering any deals until mid-July, there’s no doubt that Cashman and Company have already begin dialing other teams to open dialogue for potential trades involving targeted players. If the Yankees do prove that they are for real this year, it should be a very fun and active July. I am certainly not expecting a Bryce Harper or Manny Machado type trade, but reinforcements to stay the upward course would be very much appreciated.
I am glad to hear that one of my favorite prospects, pitcher Albert Abreu, will be coming off the DL for High-A Tampa on Friday. Abreu has been on the DL since May 2nd with elbow inflammation. Abreu will start in Friday’s game against the Dayton Tortugas in place of Domingo Acevedo, who was promoted to AA-Trenton.
Last summer, the two best outfield prospects in the Cleveland Indians organization were Clint Frazier and Bradley Zimmer. Zimmer received his call to join the Show this week, and looks to be a long-term fixture in Cleveland as an Andrew Miller teammate. On Wednesday, with his parents in attendance, Zimmer had a run-scoring double and a home run. Zimmer, two years older than Frazier, looks to be one of the game’s superior talents for years to come. I know it’s not Yankees-related but it is great to see good young players flourish in the Major Leagues. There’s no doubt he received a congratulatory text from Frazier.
The Yankees were victorious in baseball action last night with an 11-7 victory over the Kansas City Royals. With the final game of the series to be played today, the Yankees have already taken the series by winning the first two games of the three-game set.
Of the three Royals pitchers that we would be facing, I was most concerned about Jason Vargas. The veteran pitcher had gotten off to a great start at 5-1 with a 1.01 ERA. But four innings and six runs later, the ERA had more than doubled to 2.03. Michael Pineda (4-2) was the winner, but he did give up two home runs. For six innings of work, he gave up six hits, four runs (three earned), and two walks. He also registered 5 K’s. I would have liked to have seen better work but with the Yankees racing out to a 10-2 lead by the fifth inning, Pineda was guilty somewhat of letting up on the gas.
Every Yankee in the starting lineup got a hit in the 16-hit attack. Aaron Hicks, filling in for Jacoby Ellsbury, hit a three run homer in the fourth inning on a 2-for-4 night.
|Credit: John Sleezer/Kansas City Star/TNS|
The Royals scored three runs with two outs in the ninth inning against Yankees reliever Giovanny Gallegos. With two runners on base and the potential tying run on deck, Dellin Betances came in for one out, a soft grounder back to the pitcher, to end the game, recording his first save of the season with just four pitches.
The Yankees (24-13) took advantage of a loss by the Baltimore Orioles to move 1 1/2 games up in the AL East. The O’s lost to the Detroit Tigers in a close game, 5-4. Former Yankee Justin Wilson, recently named closer for the Tigers, picked up his third save. It could have been a great night but the Boston Red Sox pulled out a 5-4 win in 13 innings against the St Louis Cardinals.
Have a great Thursday! Hopefully the Yankees grab another “W” before racing to Kansas City International Airport for the flight to Tampa later this evening.
Credit: Zach Bland/Charleston RiverDogs
With the news that James Kaprielian has elected Tommy John surgery, it is already being speculated that Albert Abreu moves to the top of the chart for right-handed prospects in the Yankees organization. At only 21 years of age, he is further away from the Major Leagues than Kaprielian is (was) and his status of the top righty would cause him to leap-frog over the more seasoned Chance Adams (and possibly Domingo Acevedo depending upon what prospect list you are looking at).
While I have high hopes for Chance Adams, I’ve been very intrigued by Abreu since he was acquired, along with pitcher Jorge Guzman, from the Houston Astros last November in the Brian McCann trade. At the time of the trade, I felt the Yankees did an outstanding job with their return for a player who longer fit. At the time of the trade, the only teams that you consistently heard connected to McCann were the Astros and his former team, the Atlanta Braves. It felt like a buyer’s market but GM Brian Cashman still came up with quality prospects.
In Abreu’s first start this year for the Single A Charles RiverDogs, he absolutely dominated. In 5 2/3 innings the other day, he held the Augusta GreenJackets to two hits and no runs, striking out eleven. He did not walk anyone. At one point, his pitches were hitting 100 mph on the radar gun. For the season, Abreu has pitched 9 2/3 innings, allowing only five hits and one run for an 0.93 ERA. He has struck out a total of 17 batters. I am sure the AA Trenton Thunder and High-A Tampa Yankees are already salivating over who gets their hands on Abreu next.
I am okay with the spotlight not being focused on Adams. My hope is his continued positive, upward climb in the organization. I have no problem with him slipping quietly into the rotation when it is time. Take a chance on Adams! If we do lose Masahiro Tanaka, Michael Pineda, and/or CC Sabathia at the end of the year, we’ll need every quality (healthy) arm that we can get.
Credit: Martin Griff
Regarding Kaprielian, given this is the same injury that cost him the 2016 season, I think the decision to undergo TJ surgery is the best possible option. Unfortunately, there are no guarantees. But as I’ve said before, he had to make the decision that was best for him and not necessarily what was best for the Yankees. Surgery probably means a reappearance in the minor leagues toward the end of the 2018 season since the standard recovery time is 12-18 months. More than anything, I hope he is able to rebound from this setback and return with the best health possible. It’s going to be a long journey for Kaprielian (basically, three lost seasons counting last year) but I hope that he is one day able to step foot on Yankee Stadium turf as a member of the New York Yankees. I am glad that he chose Dr Neal ElAttrache for the surgery given that he is one of the leading experts in the field.
Kaprielian’s surgery is scheduled for next Tuesday which coincides with Tax Day. So, I guess that day is going to be painful for all of us! Well, I suppose you could argue that Kaprielian is getting the pain from an orthopedic surgeon, whereas the rest of us are getting it from a proctologist.
The Cleveland Indians trade for Andrew Miller may have cost them more time without All-Star second baseman Jason Kipnis. It seems odd that one would be connected to the other but Kipnis was hit by a pitch on his left hand the other day on a rehab assignment. Word is that Kipnis will give it go today so hopefully he won’t miss time. The irony is that the pitch was thrown by the Yankees’ Justus Sheffield, a former Indians prospect who arrived with Clint Frazier, among others, in the Miller trade.
After the second run through the rotation, which included a rookie, it’s hard to believe that the worst starting performance was courtesy of Masahiro Tanaka (last Saturday’s 5-4 loss to the Baltimore Orioles, which is also the last time the team has lost). After Micheal Pineda’s masterful performance on Opening Day, Luis Severino delivered a gem of his own. In getting his first starting victory since September 27, 2015, Sevy went seven strong innings and struck out eleven Rays batters. He only surrendered five hits, one walk and two runs. He did give up a fifth inning home run to Peter Bourjos but all things considered, he limited the damage and set the Yankees up for the win despite minimal offense. It’s the type of quality start that we consistently need from Severino and one that was so elusive last year when Sevy went 0-8 as a starter.
Credit: Frank Franklin II/AP Photo
The only offense was provided by Aaron Hicks and his two home runs. Thanks to Sevy’s great start, that’s all we needed for the 3-2 win. Dellin Betances did get into a bit of bind in the eighth inning when he had runners at the corners with no outs, but he worked out of trouble to escape the inning with no runs. The strikeouts for the first two outs of Kevin Kiermaier and Evan Longoria on called third strikes were huge. I was a little worried when Brad Miller came to the plate but he was tagged out by Betances on a soft roller hit toward first base for the final out.
Aroldis Chapman pitched the ninth and picked up his second save of the season. Man, I love having that guy back from the Chicago Cubs.
After sitting at 1-4 following Saturday’s loss, the Yankees are 5-4 with the sweep of the Rays. The Yankees now begin a three game set with the St Louis Cardinals at the Stadium. The Cards have gotten off to a slow start this year and are currently in last place in the NL East with a 3-6 record (tied with the Pittsburgh Pirates). They are capable of so much more but I hope they don’t wake up in this series. It’s a reunion for Yankees DH Matt Holliday who spent eight years in St Louis. Michael Wacha faces Masahiro Tanaka in what should be a great pitching matchup. It’s time for a dominant Tanaka performance like we saw during Spring Training.
Have a great Friday! Let’s keep this winning streak alive! Go for five!
All Quiet on the Eastern Front…
It has been a very quiet end of the year for the Yankees. There were rumors of the Yankees talking with the Chicago White Sox about Jose Quintana and David Robertson but they quickly lost legs. While the Yankees need starting pitching, I agree that it is best not to raid the newly stocked farm system. It is a risk to bet on prospects over an established major leaguer, but while Jose Quintana is a good pitcher, he’s not Chris Sale. Given Chicago’s desire for top prospects in return, it just does not make sense. Quintana will not be a 2017 difference maker.
Credit: Kevin Jairaj, USA Today Sports
I still believe the Yankees are better served by identifying an undervalued young starter with potential. Sure, that’s every team’s wish but the Yankees have the scouts and resources to uncover the hidden gems. It is harder to pitch in New York than it is in, say, Pittsburgh, but for some guys, the main stage brings out their full potential.
The New York Mets’ Noah Syndergaard was once just a prospect included in a trade (when the Mets dealt knuckleballer R.A. Dickey to the Toronto Blue Jays). I think that trade has worked out very well in favor of the Mets. It also brought them starting catcher Travis D’Arnaud. The 2012 trade was a risk for the Mets given Dickey was the reigning NL Cy Young winner, but he has never been as good as he was in 2011 and the other guys sent to Toronto are after thoughts (Josh Thole and Mike Nickeas).
The Yankees are not going to win the World Series in 2017. The current blueprint puts the Yankees on the path to World Series contention in two to three years. They have the time to develop frontline starters so why not take a chance on some other team’s “Jake Arrieta”. The Chicago Cubs saw something in the former Baltimore Orioles hurler and it has paid off quite handsomely for them.
I have high hopes for the Yankees young pitching prospects. James Kaprielian heads the list, but I haven’t forgotten or given up hope for Ian Clarkin. Jordan Montgomery and Dietrich Enns are other homegrown prospects that come to mind. The first young starters that will be given the chance to crack the rotation next season are the obvious ones…Luis Cessa and Chad Green. There’s also the hope that Luis Severino restores the promise that he showed in 2015 and is not just another failed starter that succeeds in the pen. Trade acquisitions Justus Sheffield, Dillon Tate, and Albert Abreu also hold promise.
If Severino is successful and just one of the young prospects stands out in the Spring, the rotation that already includes Masahiro Tanaka, Michael Pineda and CC Sabathia does not look so bad. It might not be ‘Chris Sale-David Price-Rick Porcello-Eduardo Rodriguez’ worthy, but the foundation is being laid for future success. It will be imperative for the Yankees to re-sign Tanaka should he opt out of his contract following the season, but Sabathia’s departure as he plays out the final year of his contract will continue to create opportunity for the young prospects. Michael Pineda is a case by himself. He is either a really great starter or a disaster. If he can ever hold the focus on the former, the pitching staff will be significantly improved.
Next season, young players like Gary Sanchez, Aaron Judge, Tyler Austin, and Greg Bird will play prominent roles for the Yankees. If any are not successful, there is another wave of young players waiting for their opportunities at Scranton/Wilkes-Barre or Trenton. It is inevitable that we’ll see outfielder Clint Frazier at some point in the season, even if it is just a September call-up. I don’t want to lose this talent in the farm system for the chance on a pitcher which always seems to be the biggest risk in baseball. Gleyber Torres has already shown that he has that “it” factor even if he is still a few years away from the Bronx. Stay the course. GM Brian Cashman’s blue print so far has been successful. He has turned what was one of the worst farm systems a few years ago to one of the best. They have the talent and depth in the system to make quiet but effective trades without sacrificing the organization’s best.
2017 may not be a banner year for the team but clearly the light is visible at the end of the tunnel. Now is not the time for the Ghost of Steinbrenner Past to raise its ugly head. Young Hal seems to have a plan and one that will soon yield fruit. Patience. Stick to the plan…