WestCoastYankees-The Blog

WestCoastYankees-The Blog

WestCoastYankees-The Blog

Wednesday, March 18, 2015

Worried About C.C. After One Spring Start? Don't!

Mandatory Credit: Charles Wenzelberg/N.Y. Post

As much as I'd love to think about anything but former New York Yankees' ace C.C. Sabathia, we have to examine his first start of the spring. If you thought he'd come out, get blasted, similar to how he looked last year, no, that wasn't going to happen either. I've said all along Sabathia's issue last year was two-fold: his weight and what was going on between the ears.

Sabathia has gained his weight back, and we have yet to find out if the mental aspect of his game has improved over the 2014 version. I wrote multiple times last spring and once the regular season started, that I felt he rushed back from off-season elbow surgery. I also believed his dramatic weight loss would affect his pitching. Yes and yes. What none of us knew at the time, was that his knee was falling apart slowly, and with each painful delivery he made. The Yankees finally got smart, shut him down, and saved us all a season-long grease fire.

He's back, and he's attempting to prove that last year was the low point of what's been an extremely solid career. Now I'm not here to tell you Sabathia will EVER be a Cy Young-caliber pitcher ever again. That ship has sailed. Do I believe, if he can remain relatively healthy, and gain back the confidence he lost last year, along with making the essential adjustments of transitioning from a thrower to a pitcher, that he can be a serviceable big league starter, then the answer is yes. If he can bounce back this season, and the Yankees' offense can score runs in 2015, with that bullpen, Sabathia has 12-to-14-win potential. But everything must go right.

During the first inning of Tuesday's spring debut versus the Toronto Blue Jays, he looked solid. A strikeout sandwiched by a pair of ground outs, and Sabathia seemed to be just fine. THEN, the second inning came. He left too many pitches in the zone, his velocity was down, a pair of extra-base hits along with two singles, and he looked like he did in 2014...lost. What's the difference? Sabathia appeared to be "working" on some things. Location, in and out, up and down, and yes, some good wood found the baseball. It's nothing to fret about just yet. It's a typical spring start for a seasoned veteran who isn't looking to win the Cy Young in his spring debut. Yankees fans...give it some time.

Now for the bonehead of the week. Yes, I'm speaking of former Yankees' closer David Robertson. You know, he reminds me of those people, that are in a solid relationship, the relationship ends, they claim to be just fine, and that they're better off without their partner, but cannot let it go. They stalk their former partner on Facebook, drive by their house, and make them the center of every conversation no matter who is listening, yet keep their "I'm better off without them" game face on. Dude, we know you're feelings are hurt that the Bombers didn't even make you an offer to keep you.

After the build-up of having to replace someone that is irreplaceable in Mariano Rivera, and after putting up a solid, but not spectacular season in his lone season as the closer, there is no doubt in my mind that his feelings are hurt. Robertson feels disrespected, and while the Yankees have moved on without as much as Robertson being an afterthought, the scorned ex simply can't let it go. He's made comments prior to his departure for Chicago, and he's back at it, this time discussing of all things, the team's facial hair policy. We are all well aware of the policy. We've seen ex-Yankees in recent years leave New York, and grow it out. That's their choice. When you don the pinstripes, you don't. That was the policy of the old man, and his sons, while far from carbon copies of their father, have at least kept some semblance of their father's legacy alive, albeit an antiquated one.

Instead of pissing and moaning about what the Yankees do, have done, and will continue to do in terms of team regulations, perhaps D-Rob, or D-Bag, or whatever we wish to call him these days, should concentrate on how he's going to earn that contract that was given to him by his new team. His goal should be to take what Rivera taught him over those years together, including the experience of winning a World Series title, and conveying THAT message to his youthful teammates and bullpen mates, not crying like a high school girl whose boyfriend just kicked her to the curb for a young, hotter upgrade without as much as saying thank you. Grow up.

Wednesday, March 11, 2015

Yankees Spring Training...My Take Thus Far

Mandatory Credit: AP Images/Colin E. Braley
So here we are. Almost ten games into the 2015 New York Yankees' spring training, and some things have become quite obvious. The first, and most disturbing, is that manager Joe Girardi is still a complete moron. He recently told the YES Network that "We signed Stephen Drew to be our second baseman." Really Joe? This is a guy that is hitting 0.91 (1-for-11) so far this spring. Yeah, the Yankees re-signed him for $5 million dollars, but c'mon, aren't we all just getting a preview of another dumpster fire like the one we witnessed last season with Brian Roberts and Kelly Johnson?

Does it not matter that the two rookies, Jose Pirela and Rob Refsnyder are hitting .462 and .455 respectively, in just about the same number of at-bats? Coming into this season, Drew had 34 whole games played at second base. He's still learning, just like Refsnyder, who actually has more experience at the keystone position even after his conversion from being a right fielder in college. I've said all along that Pirela is the best of the three for right now, and if a continued hot spring for the youngster doesn't translate into a starting gig based on contract status, this team truly has no intention of winning in 2015. Furthermore, if Girardi runs Drew out there the same way he did Roberts and Johnson until July, and he's only hitting .160 or so, while Pirela toils either on the bench or in the minors, the man deserves to lose his job.

Girardi's job is to win games, not play Little League politics based on name recognition or contract status. You put the best players on the field who give your team the best chance to win night in and night out. Does Stephen Drew have value? Absolutely. You convert him to be the utility infielder and you send Brendan Ryan packing. It's that simple. Drew can back-up Didi Gregorius at shortstop, and Pirela or Refsnyder at second base. I'd still like to see Ref get a full season at second in Triple-A, and let Pirela prove he's the real deal at the big league level this season. If both prove to be worthy, it's a good problem to have if you're the Yankees.

I've read conflicting reports about what scouts have seen from Alex Rodriguez this spring. One has stated his bat looks extremely slow, and doesn't expect it to come around. Age and injuries have sapped what is left of his baseball skills. Another scout stated yesterday that his bat looks surprisingly good thus far, and it's a great sign for the Yankees. Guess beauty is in the eye of the beholder. Through nine at-bats, he has four hits, including a double and a run driven in. Not a bad first week of exhibition games in his comeback from suspension.

How scary good is Greg Bird looking thus far? I'll be honest, it is only spring training, but if Bird continues to hit at the rate he is, and Mark Teixeira goes down for any extended period of time, forget sticking Garrett Jones in there, give the kid a chance. He's proving that his Arizona Fall League MVP campaign was no fluke, and he's forcing the Yankees to possibly be moving his arrival time up from an expect late 2016 or early 2017 timetable. In ten at-bats, Bird has five hits, including three doubles and a bomb. That is the mark of someone who is hungry (gluten-free pun intended) and wants his chance to contribute. How many more hitting into the shift because he's bullheaded at-bats must we watch from a guy clearly on the downside of a once-solid career?

And what about Nathan Eovaldi? He's been everything the Yankees had hoped for and then some. In two appearances (5 innings pitched), he's allowed a single earned run, while striking out six. The one item to note, is Eovaldi led the National League in hits allowed last season, and this spring, has already allowed as many hits (5) as he has innings pitched. Something to keep an eye on as the season rolls along. I'm sorry, but if Jacob Lindgren doesn't break camp as the Yankees' power lefty, something once again is wrong with the braintrust that runs this outfit. The "Strikeout Factory" as he's been nicknamed, is continuing the dominance he's shown over four levels of farm system experience last year after being drafted out of Mississippi State, striking out five in only three innings of work.

There's plenty of Grapefruit League games left to be played, but several Yankees are already making their case to be highlights for the team in 2015, rather than being tucked away at Triple-A Scranton or Double-A Trenton. If Brian Cashman and Joe Girardi really want to win, and in the process save both of their jobs, the best players for this team will be on the 25-man roster for Opening Day.

Wednesday, December 31, 2014

Reflections On 2014...

Good evening and happy holidays to each of you. Over the past 12 months or so, I've set aside much of the activity on WestCoastYankees-The Blog, as I currently serve as the co-editor for Yanks Go Yard of the Fansided Network, along with additional editorial duties at Friars On Base, the San Diego Padres site in the same network. I want to take a moment and thank those of you who have supported this blog over the years, even back in the day when WestCoastYankees was a fully operational website, prior to it's conversion to a blog.I also want to thank you for following me over to Yanks Go Yard as well as Friars On Base.

Over the past year, I've made many new friendships, with former players, authors, historians, and of course my two writing staffs. They are two of the best groups of guys that an editor could ever ask for. That's not to say that my partner in crime, Jason Evans and I don't have our fair share of headaches while pulling the strings at both sites. However, at the end of the day, there isn't any place I'd rather be.

That doesn't mean I don't plan on re-igniting WestCoastYankees-The Blog. One of my many New Year's Resolutions, is to become active again as a personal Yankees' blogger, along with my duties to the other two sites. Sometimes I have thoughts or feelings about the Yankees, that simply don't fit with the image and mission of what we are trying to accomplish at Yanks Go Yard.

I've always taken pride in finding talent in unusual places, and rebuilding Yanks Go Yard from basically the ground up, has been no different. I've hired writers from all sorts of backgrounds, ages, education levels, etc. Some how, some way, we've meshed into a well-oiled machine, one that consistently goes over 100,000 page views each and every month. YGY is now one of the foremost Yankees blogs on the Internet, and it couldn't have happened without the hard work of the writers over the past 12 months. I'm thankful for each and every one of them, whether they are still with us or not.

One of the organizations I belong to, the Internet Baseball Writers Association of America, is getting ready to announce the results of our recent Hall of Fame balloting. We could choose up to 15 players, of whom, I voted for 15. After the results are made known, I will share my personal thoughts and feelings on who I voted for and why.

But back to my resolution of writing more for this blog in 2015. My promise to you, my loyal audience that has followed me since the late 1990s, is that I will write at least two pieces per week, updating you on my thoughts and feelings about the Yankees, or baseball in general, that you won't find on Yanks Go Yard or Friars On Base. That resolution I will keep. This blog is my baby. It's my brainchild, and much like the success we've experienced at both Fansided sites, it's because of you, the readers. I thank you for that, and I can't thank you enough for your continued support through the years.

So in some parts of the world, 2015 is already here. On the East Coast, it is drawing closer. For me here in Wyoming, it's just about 6:30 p.m. on New Year's Eve. No, no crazy partying for my wife and I. We have two small children at home. The highlight of our evening was going to one of our favorite restaurants, and enjoying a nice meal.

As I reflect on the Yankees, the final bidding of farewell to longtime team captain, Derek Jeter, 2015 makes me realize that the dawn of a new era in Yankees baseball is upon us. No more overhyped retirement tours, no more keeping players in the lineup who are well past their prime. The circus that is Alex Rodriguez will go for as long as the Yankees allow it to go. Once they've had enough, he's done.

Instead of chasing high-priced free agents, the Yankees have shown restraint this winter. That doesn't mean that Max Scherzer or James Shields isn't lurking. The Yankees could sign both. They may not sign either. We as fans won't know until it's done. What I am excited about? Not so much that the Yankees have reloaded and are on the cusp of another World Series run. I'm excited about the highly-touted farm players. The young guns that are the foundation of the next great dynasty.

If you don't know who they are, you should familiarize yourself with their names now.  Guys like Greg Bird, Aaron Judge Jose Pirela, Rob Refsnyder, Eric Jagielo, Luis Severino, Ian Clarkin and even Gary Sanchez to a certain extent. These are the names who are going to be the building blocks of the new way of Yankees' baseball. Team grown, cost controlled, highly-skilled prospects who are built to be long term answers.

While looking at the current Yankees' starting lineup, only two positions will have homegrown Yankees in 2015. Brett Gardner in left field and the winner of the second base job between Pirela and Refsnyder. The rest you should be looking for as early as 2016, and most likely, 2017. I'm thankful to be a Yankees' fan, and I'm thankful for the opportunity to cover this team on a mass scale network, and to have the ability to return to my little abode here at WestCoastYankees.

From the Brost family to yours, Happy Holidays and have a safe and Happy 2015!

Wednesday, February 5, 2014

Nine Days Out And Questions Remain

Stephen Drew would solve several problems for the Yankees' infield. Photo courtesy ESPN.com

By now, everyone who follows baseball is well aware of the spending spree the New York Yankees went on this winter to upgrade a roster that finished third in the American League East, and out of the playoffs for just the second time since 1994. While many believe the Yankees' overall lineup is better and longer 1-9 than it was a season ago, many questions still surround a team that has spent close to half a billion dollars in free agent signings.

With pitchers and catchers reporting in nine days, the Yankees still have several questions to answer not only with their roster heading into spring training, but questions to answer once spring training begins. Today's entry will ask the questions--and attempt to answer them given the available information.

1. Who will be the 5th starter? The free agent market is still slow-moving for Ubaldo Jimenez and Ervin Santana, along with several other lower-tier starting pitchers that remain available. Compensatory draft picks are attached to both Jimenez and Santana because each declined their former team's qualifying offers to remain with their respective clubs for one more season. With the value placed on draft picks, teams are unwilling to part with those picks to sign less than stellar top-tier free agent pitchers. Of the two, Jimenez makes the most sense for the Yankees, as Santana would be a more expensive version of Phil Hughes...a home run machine. If Jimenez's price comes down, don't count out the Yankees to swoop in and snag him, draft pick be damned. General manager Brian Cashman says the Yankees are done spending money, but I'm not buying it.

What about their in-house options? I've been a fan of Michael Pineda since his rookie season in Seattle. If he comes to camp healthy, at the tender age of 25, he could be the surprise of the season for the Yankees. For whatever reason Pineda falters, then the Yankees have a mixed bag of options to choose from. David Phelps has been up and down throughout his short big league career, and I believe is better situated as a mop-up guy or long reliever. Lefty Vidal Nuno is the one who intrigues me. In a handful of games in 2013, he impressed Joe Girardi with his poise and grittiness for handling the pressure of pitching at the big league level. A groin injury ended Nuno's season prematurely, and if Pineda isn't the guy, I would love to see the rotation book-ended by two lefties.

Wednesday, January 22, 2014

Continuing To Tread Water

Tanaka Isn't The End All And Be All For The Yankees

Pitchers and catchers report in less than a month, and for the New York Yankees, it might be a reprieve from the heavy criticism the team has absorbed for their lack of functional activity in replenishing a less than championship-caliber roster in 2013. We are only days away from Masahiro Tanaka making his decision to either sign with a big league club (he will) or return to Japan and give it another go next season.

We also know who the obvious options are if Tanaka chooses the big leagues from among the Yankees, the Los Angeles Dodgers, either one of the Chicago clubs, or god forbid, the Boston Red Sox. While none of the so-called big name free agents pitchers are of the #1 type, all three could be serviceable. We've also previously discussed some of the under the radar guys who might make an impact, that won't cost the Yankees draft picks, long term deals, or a ton of cash. Those guys include Jason Hammel, Tommy Hanson and Paul Maholm. Trades have been talked about, including Brett Gardner for Homer Bailey. It all depends on what happens with Tanaka. An article from the N.Y. Post stated that the Yankees' upper management are divided on how they feel about Tanaka.

While starting pitching is the obvious glaring weakness, this team, simply stated, has more holes than viable options available to fill them. Brian Cashman made initial big splashes during the offseason, but has failed to make the Yankees a championship team once again. The infield is filled with underachievers and retreads, Mark Teixeira is no guarantee for the start of the season, and the bullpen is far from a sure thing with the retirement of Mariano Rivera. I personally, am not sold on David Robertson as the heir apparent.

Tuesday, January 7, 2014

Would Gardner for Bailey Work For The Yankees?

The Yankees would be fools not to deal Gardner for Bailey

Over the past couple of days, the trade rumors have once again began heating up between the New York Yankees and the Cincinnati Reds. If you remember back to December's Baseball Winter Meetings, the Reds offered up second baseman Brandon Phillips in a 1-for-1 deal for Yankees outfielder Brett Gardner. The Yankees said "Thanks, but no thanks." That was probably a smart move, as Phillips numbers have continued to plummet, and his salary was simply too much for the Bombers to take on.

The Yankees' need for starting pitching hasn't gone away. None of the big three domestic free agents are #1 guys in any rotation, while Ubaldo Jimenez has shown flashes of brilliance at times. The Bombers continue to focus on the now-posted Masahiro Tanaka, most recently of the Rakuten Golden Eagles. Rumors are now starting to circulate, that the Reds are now willing to listen to offers for Homer Bailey as the team tries to clear salary room to make additional moves. Now whether that means going out and signing a Nelson Cruz or a Stephen Drew, who knows, and frankly, who cares? It's the Reds. They are not my concern as a Yankees blogger or writer. What concerns me is what the Reds would be asking for in return for Bailey.

Enter one Brett Gardner. The Reds obviously have an interest in the speedy outfielder, otherwise, why would you offer a multiple Gold Glove-winning second baseman who drove in 100 runs last season and provided along with Jay Bruce, protection for the team's best hitter, Joey Votto? The deal on the surface, if it was a 1-for-1, would benefit both teams. And no, I don't care what anyone in the Yankees organization (Yes, that means you Randy Levine) says about the Yankees not looking to deal Gardner. I'm also tired of reading all of the comparisons to new Yankees center fielder Jacoby Ellsbury. You are talking apples and oranges. Gardner only stole 24 bases this past season, and hasn't stolen more than 40 since 2011. He missed most of 2012 with an injury. With those 24 swipes, he was caught 8 times. Gardner looked lost on the base paths at times during the season, and at age 30, I don't think he's going to improve much on what he already is: a career .268 hitter who has no power, doesn't run as much as he should, and will never develop into a top-of-the-order threat like everyone else thinks he will. Gardner is a phenomenal outfielder, and would make two-thirds of the Yankees outfield in 2014 one of the best defensively in baseball.

Monday, January 6, 2014

Thoughts For The New Year...

Spring Training is right around the corner and there's still work to be done...

The New York Yankees went through a down year by their standards in 2013, and probably by most fan's standards as well. The team had intended on shedding payroll as they hoped to be under the $189 million threshold, but after an 85-win season and empty seats in the Bronx, the mandate changed to a goal.

The team is still toying with the idea of possibly getting under the $189 million, but are just dipping their toes in the water. The Bombers still have no idea what will come of Alex Rodriguez's appeal, even though a decision is expected by the end of next week, after the announcement of the Hall of Fame selections. The Yankees would be off the hook for A-Rod's 2014 salary if he were forced to serve his entire 211-game suspension originally handed down by Commissioner Bud Selig. More than likely, A-Rod's suspension will be in the neighborhood of 50-85 games maximum. Selig tried to lower the boom, but A-Rod and his legal team pushed back. It's now in the hands of Frederic Horowitz to sort it all out.

In the meantime, the Yankees have to proceed through their off-season plans as if A-Rod will be a part of the team. This has prevented them from committing one more season to late 2013 acquisition Mark Reynolds, who would provide much needed thunder from the right side of the plate, and adequate defense at the hot corner. The Yankees still need at a minimum one arm for the starting rotation, and in recent weeks, the thought that the Bombers are pursuing a second arm has come to light. The end all and be all of the team's free agent plans centers around Masahiro Tanaka. The Seattle Mariners and Arizona Diamondbacks are also vying for the Japanese ace's services, and nothing is a given. If the Yankees lose out on Tanaka, they are faced with the decision of either signing one of the lesser talented free agents on the market (Matt Garza, Ubaldo Jimenez, or Ervin Santana), going with lower cost options (Jason Hammel or Tommy Hanson), or going extremely cheap while providing a couple of in-house options the chance to shine (David Phelps, Michael Pineda, Vidal Nuno, or Manny Banuelos).

The lineup has been revamped even after losing perennial All-Star Robinson Cano to free agency. General manager Brian Cashman has brought in a couple of options to try and fill the shoes of Cano (Kelly Johnson and Brian Roberts), replaced a piece in the bullpen (Matt Thornton for Boone Logan), and as of right now, will go with David Robertson as the heir apparent to the legendary Mariano Rivera, who retired at the end of 2013.