Friday, July 31, 2015

Rough day for Yankees leads to ramped up trade speculation

The New York Yankees have had better days than they endured Thursday. Names the Yankees were interested in on the trade market came off, Michael Pineda was placed on the disabled list with a forearm strain and they lost their game in walk-off fashion.

It looks as though the Yankees will use this final non-waiver trading day to grab a top-flight reliever, having been linked to both Craig Kimbrel and Aroldis Chapman. They’ve most recently been linked to Carter Capps as a backup plan should either the Padres or Reds want one of the “untouchables” (Aaron Judge, Luis Severino, Greg Bird and to a lesser extent Jorge Mateo) prospects in return.

The reliever over starter mindset here is based on the Yankees wanting to shorten games to six (or even five innings) by utilizing an extremely deep and ultra-talented bullpen. It also has a lot to do with the quality of the starting pitchers still on the market who would not cost one of the players mentioned above.

The rotation is still an issue with CC Sabathia being flat-out awful and Pineda’s injury. However, the club has internal options to fill the rotation void until Pineda can come back. They can use any combination of Adam Warren (would need to be stretched back out), Bryan Mitchell or Severino.

Finally, if the Yankees cannot reach an agreement for Kimbrel, Chapman or Capps they don’t exactly have a problematic bullpen situation with Warren, Chasen Shreve, Justin Wilson, Dellin Betances and Andrew Miller carrying the load.

I agree with the Yankees not wanting to add the main three to a deal, but would be fine with Mateo in one IF it brings a controllable starter and reliever (Tyson Ross and Kimbrel) for example. I've never seen Mateo play and understand he could be great, but he's pretty far off and anything can happen. A deal like this makes Yanks much better now and for a couple more seasons.

It should be an exciting day.

Christopher Carelli is a freelance baseball writer. Besides his work here, Christopher is a featured Yankees writer for SNY.tv. His baseball commentary has also been published on Yahoo Sports and linked multiple times on MLB Trade Rumors’ Baseball Blogs Weigh In. He is a member of the Internet Baseball Writers Association of America, the Baseball Bloggers Alliance and the BYB Hub.



Wednesday, July 29, 2015

Has Chris Capuano thrown his last pitch for Yankees?

The New York Yankees felt they needed veteran depth for the rotation during the offseason and signed Chris Capuano to a one-year, $5 million contract to fit the role. Capuano supplied the Yankees with some decent innings in 2014, but at the time of the signing I felt this was an unnecessary deal. After putting up a 6.97 ERA this season, maybe it’s time the Yankees felt the same way.

The need for Capuano with Adam Warren, Bryan Mitchell and others in the system seemed like a move that didn’t need to be made, but for the Yankees, $5 million is a splash in the bucket. It’s hard to get too riled up when it’s not my money, but Capuano on the mound causes more than just bad results for the team. He’s taking a roster spot; one which could go to a pitcher who could grow with time on the major league roster. And more importantly, be better.

Capuano could not get out of the first inning of what turned out to be a Yankees' rout Tuesday night. In two-thirds of an inning, Capuano walked five batters, allowed three hits and five earned runs. He was rescued by the offense, which put up three touchdowns (PATs included) and a no-hit combination of Diego Moreno and Warren for the remainder eight and one-third innings.

To go along with Capuano’s bloated ERA, he is now 0-4 with a 1.77 WHIP in 31 innings pitched. Capuano owns an ERA- of 174 (100 is average) and has an fWAR of -0.1 per FanGraphs.

Capuano has two jobs; keep games from getting completely out of hand in long relief and make a spot start here and there which should also result in keeping the team close in a few innings of work. He’s been unable to do either. In his previous appearance to the disastrous start Tuesday, Capuano allowed four earned runs in one inning of relief.

This is simply not working out and the Yankees must come to the realization that one of their minor leaguers (please not Esmil Rogers) should occupy the role. Moreno was great, but he’ll likely get sent down for a fresh arm Wednesday. Mitchell was pitching well out of the pen before the Yanks shifted him back to Triple-A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre so he remains an option. Or maybe the Yankees finally bite the bullet by adding a starter via trade and shifting CC Sabathia to the bullpen.

Whatever way it works out, Capuano can no longer be relied on to do anything, not even give some innings. It’s time to admit the signing did not work out and move on.

Christopher Carelli is a freelance baseball writer. Besides his work here, Christopher is a featured Yankees writer for SNY.tv. His baseball commentary has also been published on Yahoo Sports and linked multiple times on MLB Trade Rumors’ Baseball Blogs Weigh In. He is a member of the Internet Baseball Writers Association of America, the Baseball Bloggers Alliance and the BYB Hub.



Tuesday, July 28, 2015

Yankees’ Teixeira goes ballistic, then rips third base coach Espada

New York Yankees first baseman Mark Teixeira has always seemed like a mind-mannered guy. He obviously has a good sense of humor, based on his talk show parody from last season in which he was the host. But Monday night, Teixeira showed a side of him that he might want to rethink for the future.

While on second base in the eighth inning, Chase Headley looped a single to center field, and third base coach Joe Espada sent Teixeira home. Nothing crazy here; except Espada apparently yelled to Teixeira “easy, easy,” indicating he could make it home without busting it down the line. It was evident looking at replays that Teixeira did just that slowing down after rounding third.

Unfortunately, Texas Rangers center fielder Leonys Martin has a great arm. He threw a bullet home and by the time Teixeira noticed there was going to be a play at the plate he was too late to try and pick up speed. Teixeira immediately turned around a put his arms in the air and yelled something toward Espada.

It didn’t end there. When Teixeira reached the dugout he began tossing anything in his way showing plenty of rage. Teixeira was having a bit of a rough night (he was robbed twice of hits in the game, one a potential homer by Martin, and then this) so it was somewhat understandable that he was upset.
I also figured that he was upset because he could have gotten hurt. A play like that could have resulted in a bad slide, a collision at the plate or simply stretching a muscle that was not ready for such motion. Teixeira is having a great season, one without injury and it’s obvious he wants to keep it that way and he viewed Espada’s poor judgment as potentially affecting his health.

All of this, including the tirade in the dugout is understandable in my view. I cannot argue with a player showing emotion on the field. It’s hard to bottle that up sometimes, and like I said Teixeira is not one to wear his emotions on his sleeve. So an occasional outburst is not the end of the world.

I would have been fine with things had it ended there. It didn’t. After Teixeira tossed everything in his path, he brought his frustrations to the media. Unlike manager Joe Girardi, who didn’t answer questions about the event, other than to say it was over, Teixeira had no problem speaking his mind in front of reporters in the clubhouse.
This is where this takes a bad turn for me. Teixeira could have just as easily had his discussion with Espada and left it at that, thus following Girardi's tact with reporters. Everything is going well for the Yankees right now and this kind of incident will get blown out of proportion if allowed to or ignited by railroading the coach in a public forum.

Teixeira is a 13-year veteran. He was involved in a play in which he shouldn’t have. He could have gotten hurt. But he didn’t. And it should have been left at that after he vented on the field. Today, after some time to think it over, it will be interesting to see if he offers an apology for the remarks afterward and acknowledges it would have been more appropriate to leave the dirty laundry of the clubhouse where it belongs, behind closed doors.

Christopher Carelli is a freelance baseball writer. Besides his work here, Christopher is a featured Yankees writer for SNY.tv. His baseball commentary has also been published on Yahoo Sports and linked multiple times on MLB Trade Rumors’ Baseball Blogs Weigh In. He is a member of the Internet Baseball Writers Association of America, the Baseball Bloggers Alliance and the BYB Hub.



Saturday, July 25, 2015

Yankees need another strong second half from Chase Headley

When the New York Yankees traded for Chase Headley last July, they hoped he would find his stroke and solidify the revolving door at third base. He did. This season, after a rocky first half, the Yanks are looking for another strong finish from Headley in both departments. He’s on his way to doing it.

Chase Headley
Photo credit: Keith Allison via Flickr
Headley was signed to a four-year, $52 million deal, and they expected him to be much of the same person who finished out the 2014 season. They did not figure he would generate a .682 OPS, and they certainly didn’t peg him for 16 errors for the season, let alone to this point.

There is reason to be optimistic. Headley has looked much better at third base in recent weeks, and he has been hitting the ball well this month. Since July 1, Headley's slashing .333/.379/.426 with five doubles and seven RBI. The Yankees would love to have that kind of production (maybe with a few homers) going forward.

Headley has a distinct record of hitting much better after the All-Star break, making July look like a premonition of the remainder of the summer. I tweeted this Friday about Headley's career first and second half splits.

Those are rather encouraging stats for Headley and the Yankees.

Headley has seemingly stabilized in the field and has begun to find a groove at the plate. It would be a big boost to the offense if Headley can become a contributor at the bottom third of the order. Based on his production this month and his history, there’s a good chance he can answer the call.



Thursday, July 23, 2015

If Yankees find way on road, watch out

The New York Yankees have won their last five series, including a series sweep of the Baltimore Orioles, which wrapped up this afternoon. All but one of the series' victories have occurred at Yankee Stadium.

The Yankees embark on a 10-game road trip where they'll hope to continue to maintain or advance their comfortable lead in the American League East. It will take a reversal of performance on the road, or else the Yanks might end up falling back to the pack.

The Yankees enter the road trip with a 23-24 record away from Yankee Stadium. The Yanks have played in 15 series on the road so far this season, winning five and splitting another. Three of those series’ wins occurred during the first four weeks of the season.

If the Yankees want to put a stranglehold on the division, winning a couple of the upcoming series is imperative. Doing so will also go a long way toward building confidence that they can win outside of Yankee Stadium, and it will give notice to opposing teams.

The Yankees will face three teams – the Minnesota Twins (3 games), the Texas Rangers (4) and the Chicago White Sox. As of this writing, only the Twins have an overall winning record and they’re fantastic at Target Field (31-16). The Rangers have played poorly at Globe Life Park in Park (16-26) while the White Sox are two games over .500 (24-22) at U.S. Cellular Field as of July 22.

The Twins series will be toughest of the bunch on paper, and taking three out of four games in anyone’s ballpark is a tough job. The Yanks have yet to face the Twins or White Sox this season, and they were swept by the Rangers at Yankee Stadium.

The biggest difference in the Yankees’ performance at home and on the road is with their offense. At Yankee Stadium the club owns a .817 team OPS (includes Thursday's game), while it drops to .680 on the road. The Yankees were tied with the Houston Astros for most home runs hit at home this season heading into today’s action (the Yankees added one homer to the tally this afternoon, Houston plays later tonight). The Yanks’ home ERA is 3.76 (includes Thursday's game) and rises slightly on the road to 4.00.

I would say that the Yankees coming out of the road trip with six wins would be a success. It would require one of the clubs chasing them to go 8-2 over the time span to gain a couple of games in the division in which the Yankees own a comfortable 5.5 game lead on the Toronto Blue Jays (seven in the loss column) before Thursday's contests.

Such a result would also keep the post All-Star Game momentum going and then the Yankees play 36 of their subsequent 61 games at home. The club has already completed their west coast trips this season, so none of the travel during that period is too terrible (traveling south to Tampa is their furthest trip).

Continuing to dominate at Yankee Stadium remains important to the club’s postseason aspirations, but finding a groove and some consistency in play while on the road might signal that this indeed a team to be reckoned with.

Post updated, July 23, 2015, 5:23 PM

Christopher Carelli is a freelance baseball writer. Besides his work here, Christopher is a featured Yankees writer for SNY.tv. His baseball commentary has also been published on Yahoo Sports and linked multiple times on MLB Trade Rumors’ Baseball Blogs Weigh In. He is a member of the Internet Baseball Writers Association of America, the Baseball Bloggers Alliance and the BYB Hub.



Saturday, July 18, 2015

Yankees optioning Bryan Mitchell might signal expensive trade market

The New York Yankees optioned right-hander pitcher Bryan Mitchell to Triple-A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre and recalled righty Branden Pinder Saturday.

Mitchell had been up with the club for a few weeks and made six appearances totaling 9.1 innings. He carried a 2.89 ERA and a 1.07 WHIP, while striking out nine batters during his stay.

So far in 10.2 innings (nine games) with the Yankees, Pinder has a 2.53 ERA with a 1.13 WHIP. He’ll be the right-handed counterpart to lefty Chris Capuano out of the bullpen in long-relief or mop-up duties.

I've been saying for some time that the Yankees might be better off with Mitchell as the insurance for the rotation versus trading for it. This move could signal that the Yankees are finding the trade market to be a bit expensive and felt the team is better served by getting Mitchell stretched back out in case of an injury or poor performance down the road.

The Yankees outward position on trades seems to be to hold on to their best prospects (Luis Severino, Aaron Judge and Gregory Bird for example) and be reluctant about trading midlevel prospects unless something of value comes their way.

In the rental market, middle-of-the-rotation starting pitching (Mike Leake and Jeff Samardzija for example) would still cost midlevel prospects. Maybe the Yankees feel unwilling to part with the players they would need to give up when Mitchell is available for nothing.

The move makes absolute sense in my view even if the reason has nothing to do with the trade market. Mitchell is better served as a starter for the club in the long run and if there isn't a concern about innings at this time, then stretching him back out is the way to go.

Christopher Carelli is a freelance baseball writer. Besides his work here, Christopher is a featured Yankees writer for SNY.tv. His baseball commentary has also been published on Yahoo Sports and linked multiple times on MLB Trade Rumors’ Baseball Blogs Weigh In. He is a member of the Internet Baseball Writers Association of America, the Baseball Bloggers Alliance and the BYB Hub.



Thursday, July 16, 2015

If Yankees’ Refsnyder is in, who is out?

The New York Yankees finally called up second baseman Rob Refsnyder Saturday and he had a productive weekend series in Boston going 2-for-7 with a two-run home run. It looks as though he is going to stick around for at least a little bit. At issue, is the Yankees have Brendan Ryan and Carlos Beltran ready to come off the disabled list in the very near future. Who on the Yankees’ roster becomes expendable?

Rob Refsnyder
Photo credit: Tom Hagerty via Flickr
The first candidate is easy enough to figure out; Gregorio Petit. He was signed just before the season began when Ryan went down with his first injury. Petit has not been used much (20 games, 47 plate appearances, 27 OPS+) and has been underwhelming in his appearances. With a glut of players in the infield, Petit becomes a disposable piece. He likely clears waivers and accepts a position at Triple-A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre. If not, who cares?

It’s not certain who will be ready first, but what happens when Ryan or Beltran is the second of the two to be ready to be activated? We know Beltran gets a spot back on the 25-man roster, but it seems that after removing Petit, it’s either Ryan or Stephen Drew who is next to get lopped off if Refsnyder sticks with the club.


In my view there does not seem to be a more logical choice than to keep the left-handed hitting Drew and designate the right-handed hitting Ryan for assignment. Ryan is in the midst of the second year of a two-year contract in which he is earning $2 million. He has a team option for the 2016 season at $2 million, or a player option of $1 million. The Yankees owe Drew a little more than $2.5 million of his $5 million contract at this point. Nevertheless, I do not believe this is a financial issue.

Ryan has been injured more often than he’s been helpful to the Yankees. He’s played in 55 of the Yankees’ 250 games since the beginning of last season, amounting to 139 plate appearances and a 30 OPS+. When he is on the field he is an all-glove player; always has been. Now he cannot stay on the field and his handedness being the same as Refsnyder’s combined with his inability to hit makes Drew, who at least has some thump, a better choice. Drew, a fine fielder himself, can play all the same positions as Ryan. Maybe someone sees some value in Ryan, but if not he might welcome a spot at Scranton.

Further, creating a more or less strict platoon between Refsnyder and Drew makes a lot of sense. That scenario puts the veteran in better hitting situations and allows Refsnyder a way to ease into playing full-time. If Refsnyder holds his own, or better, shows more aptitude with the bat and glove than expected, he could garner more time in the lineup reducing Drew to a bench player.

In the short term, this allows the Yankees to see what they have and assists them in making a determination concerning trades for a second baseman for the rest of this season. What if the Yankees are considering a trade with Refsnyder being a piece to go? They have Drew to fall back on as the backup to the player brought in. This makes Ryan unessential either way.

For me this is an easy decision. Drew offers a fine bench option and Refsnyder gets a 10-day or so audition and either runs with it or is sent packing for Triple-A or elsewhere. Ryan and Petit are dead weight no matter how this falls out.

Christopher Carelli is a freelance baseball writer. Besides his work here, Christopher is a featured Yankees writer for SNY.tv. His baseball commentary has also been published on Yahoo Sports and linked multiple times on MLB Trade Rumors’ Baseball Blogs Weigh In. He is a member of the Internet Baseball Writers Association of America, the Baseball Bloggers Alliance and the BYB Hub.



Monday, July 13, 2015

Yankees weekend news wrap: AL East, Refsnyder, All-Star break, Futures

The MLB All-Star break has begun and the New York Yankees find themselves sitting atop the American League East with a 48-40 record. The Yanks hold a 3 1/2 game lead over the Tampa Bay Rays (the Rays are five back in the loss column, while the Baltimore Orioles are four back). After a 15-12 record in June, the Yankees are 7-3 in July. The club finished off the first half of the season winning two of three games at Boston; sinking the Red Sox 6 1/2 games back (seven on loss side) in the division.

I wrote last week at SNY that the Yankees will need to find a way to pull away from the pack, but that the clubs trying to stay with them, the Red Sox included, each have the ability to make a run making it no easy task. The division has been declared weak by many, but really the entire American League is nothing to get all concerned about. If the Yankees are able to reach the playoffs by winning the division, they could make some noise in the postseason.

Refsnyder finally called up


Rob Refsnyder
Photo credit: Tom Hagerty via Flickr
For what has seemed like an eternity of waiting for many Yankees’ fans, Rob Refsnyder made his major league debut Saturday in Boston. In his first game, he looked comfortable at the plate, but didn’t come away with any hits. In Sunday’s series finale, Refsnyder went 2-for-4 at the dish with his first MLB hit (a single) and his first big league home run, a two-run blast over the Green Monster, which ended up being the difference in the game. Refsnyder made a couple nice plays in the field, but was charged with an error after failing to make a catch in a fielder’s choice play as part of a messy ninth inning by the Yankees in the field.

The knock on Refsnyder is his fielding. Aside from the missed catch, he looked good during plays he was involved including a nice turn on a double play chance in Saturday’s game. So far he has not looked out of sorts, or overmatched.

There are questions as to how the Yankees will utilize Refsnyder after the All-Star break. Will he be part of a strict platoon with Stephen Drew? Or will he take on an abundance of the plate appearances going forward? Is this an audition for using Refsnyder as a trade chip?

My hunch is that it will start as a platoon with Drew. It puts the veteran in better hitting situations and allows Refsnyder a way to ease into playing full-time. If Refsnyder holds his own, or better, shows more aptitude with the bat and glove than expected, he could garner more time in the lineup reducing Drew to a bench player. This allows the Yankees to see what they have an assists them in making a determination concerning trades for a second baseman.

If Refsnyder sticks and it given most of the plate appearances at some point, Drew can become what the Yankees have used Brendan Ryan for, an infield utility guy and bench depth. There would be no need to keep Ryan around and Gregorio Petit could also be shown the door at that time.

All-Star break welcomed for some


While it would have been nice for the Yankees to have Brian McCann and Alex Rodriguez also recognized as All-Stars, it might be best that they can take the four days of rest and get rejuvenated for the summer run.

McCann has played in 72 of 88 games this season, 70 as a catcher (66 starts). Each time A-Rod has been given a day or two off, he has come back even stronger. The Yankees have done a good job with both players to keep them fresh and an extended break could be beneficial.

For the Yankees who made the club -- Brett Gardner, Mark Teixeira and Dellin Betances -- it will be a bit of a whirlwind for a couple of days, but they still get the benefit of two straight days off before returning to the field.

Carlos Beltran will not be resting during the break. He is anticipated to begin a rehab assignment with the notion of returning to the club when they begin their homestand Friday.

Judge, Sanchez represent Yankees in All-Stars Futures Game

Aaron Judge
Photo credit: Tom Hagerty via Flickr

Finally, Aaron Judge and Gary Sanchez represented the Yankees in the All-Stars Futures Game Sunday. Judge went 1-for-4 with a single as the designated hitter for the winning USA club. Sanchez roped a double in two at-bats for the World team as the starting catcher.

Judge has made great strides this season, now playing for Triple-A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre. Sanchez has also taken a positive step and could be a teammate of Judge’s in the near future. Or Sanchez could be used as a trade piece at the deadline considering McCann’s contract and the depth of catchers in the organization.



I made a radio appearance on FanSided's Yanks Go Yard Radio Show Sunday night. We talked about the Yankees in the first half. Give it a listen here.

Christopher Carelli is a freelance baseball writer. Besides his work here, Christopher is a featured Yankees writer for SNY.tv. His baseball commentary has also been published on Yahoo Sports and linked multiple times on MLB Trade Rumors’ Baseball Blogs Weigh In. He is a member of the Internet Baseball Writers Association of America, the Baseball Bloggers Alliance and the BYB Hub.



Friday, July 10, 2015

Yankees’ legend and Hall of Famer Goose Gossage talks baseball past and present

As part of Hormel Foods’ No-hassle Major League Tailgate Tips promotion, I had the distinct pleasure and honor of speaking with former New York Yankees’ reliever and Major League Baseball Hall of Famer Rich "Goose" Gossage by phone Friday.

Photo credit: www.goosegossage.com
Gossage pitched for nine different teams across 22 seasons in the big leagues. He spent six seasons with the Yankees (1978-83) and finished the 1989 season in pinstripes after being picked up on waivers that August.

Gossage, who threw 100-mph gas, intimidated batters while compiling a career mark of 124-107 with a 3.01 ERA and saved 310 games. Gossage nailed down 52 saves in which he recorded at least seven outs, 125 with at least six outs, something unheard of today.

Gossage, now 64, was a nine-time All-Star and a member of three World Series teams including the 1978 World Champion Yankees. Gossage was inducted into the National Baseball Hall of Fame in 2008, his ninth time on the ballot.

After over 20 years passing since he was last called from the bullpen, I got the impression while speaking with Gossage that if I handed him a ball and told him there was a game to save he’d take it and blow batters away. He misses the competition and being with teammates; something he remembers since he was 7 years old.

“I miss it, I think we all miss it; there is nothing like facing that hitter up there,” Gossage said. "I miss that competition the most.”

Gossage noted that the camaraderie with teammates was another thing absent from his life since hanging up his spikes. I asked him about first impressions with teammates and how they might change over time. He laughed and jumped straight into talking about his favorite teammate, Thurman Munson.

“We ended up being best friends,” Gossage said. “He was one tough customer. He didn’t leave games.”

Thurman Munson
Photo credit: Wikipedia Commons
Gossage’s respect for Munson and the excitement in his voice was unmistakable when he spoke about the former Yankee catcher’s play on the field.

“Thurman was head and shoulders above everyone else,” Gossage said. “His competitiveness, his style was unorthodox. I’ve seen him grab a pitch on the outside corner, then end up like a turtle upside-down on his back after making a submarine throw from his knees to second base.”

Gossage continued to heap praise on his former battery mate.

“He could run, he was fast for a catcher, a little fat guy,” Gossage said with a laugh. “We loved him.”

Of course, losing Munson to the plane crash that took his life in 1979, still sits in Gossage’s throat and bleeds his heart.

“That was the most devastating thing that’s ever [happened] during my career; was losing Thurman,” Gossage said. “We still miss him dearly today.”

Gossage talked about some of the great managers he played for; Chuck Tanner, Dick Howser and Tony La Russa among them. But Dick Williams stood out above the rest, and they shared a special connection as they were inducted into the Hall of Fame at the same time.

“I hate to do that (differentiate between the managers) because these guys were all great managers, but Williams was the greatest I ever played for,” Gossage said. “I miss him dearly.”

After winning the Fireman of the Year Award (given to the league’s top reliever) in 1975 for locking down 26 saves, Gossage got a call from then White Sox general manager Roland Hemond in the offseason and was asked to be a starter in 1976. Gossage was quick to say he’d do what needed to be done for the team and he made 29 starts that season which included hurling 15 complete games. The game was different then.

While he didn’t mind the experience of starting, it also made clear he preferred pitching out of the bullpen and Tanner helped that process when the Pittsburgh Pirates traded for Gossage in the winter leading up to the 1977 season.

The phone call came into Gossage in the late night hours while he was in his Colorado home. It was Tanner, who told Gossage the Pirates traded for him and he was going back to the bullpen.

“That was music to my ears,” Gossage said. “Not that I minded starting, but I didn’t like the four days rest in between starts. I loved the opportunity to get in the game each night with it on the line.”

Gossage continued describing his love of being a reliever.

Gossage's Hall of Fame plaque
Photo credit: Neil R via Flickr
“I loved the workload that I had,” Gossage said. “I loved getting out of big situations. I could come in (in the seventh inning) and get out of bases loaded nobody out with strikeouts. I couldn’t even allow the ball to be put in play. And then I had to finish the eighth and the ninth.”

We spoke about the differences in how bullpens are handled now versus when Gossage played and he was adamant about not liking the mix-and-match strategies employed nowadays.

“I don’t ever think I’ll come to grips with it (the change in bullpen philosophy),” Gossage said. “The whole idea of pitching is upside-down.”

Gossage continued by differentiating his role with that today’s closer.

“I was my own setup man and my own closer,” Gossage said. “Closer wasn’t even a coined phrase. I take exception to being called a closer. I was a relief pitcher.”

“I think the pendulum has swung too far the other way,” Gossage said. “They baby these guys too much. I don’t think a three-run lead with a one-inning appearance should even garner a save.”

Gossage pitched in three World Series and recorded plenty of big outs in his career, but it was during All-Star Games in which he felt the most nervous and often unsettled. He also felt immense pride in being selected.

“I think it was the peer-pressure, and being in the clubhouse with all those great players,” Gossage said. “It’s a very intimidating place to be, especially in your first or second time. Even my ninth time when I was selected, going into the clubhouse was a very, very special [moment].”

Goose Gossage
Photo credit: Phil5329 via WikiCommons
Gossage does have some advice about getting back to the roots of what the All-Star Game was about and should be again. He felt as a player it was an honor to be selected and it became important for the players to try and win the game to show their pride of being chosen to participate.

“I don’t think the All-Star Game should determine that (home-field advantage), and I’ve always been against that,” Gossage said. “Back in the day there was such a rivalry between the American League and the National League, and that’s something that’s really lacking in the game.”

Gossage played for both sides of the rivalry and he got the sense that the National League took it more to heart than the American League and “upped the ante” and took pleasure in winning the Midsummer Classic.

“You look back at Pete Rose taking out Ray Fosse at home plate; that shows exactly how competitive that game used to be,” Gossage said.

The game has certainly changed a lot since Gossage glared from the mound, scaring the daylights out of batters. Seeing Gossage step to the hill and mow down batters for multiple innings as a Yankee ranks among my fonder memories of the game as a child.

Baseball is different now. Of course, nothing can stay the same forever, but there are some things that might have been better off kept as they were.

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Christopher Carelli is a freelance baseball writer. Besides his work here, Christopher is a featured Yankees writer for SNY.tv. His baseball commentary has also been published on Yahoo Sports and linked multiple times on MLB Trade Rumors’ Baseball Blogs Weigh In. He is a member of the Internet Baseball Writers Association of America, the Baseball Bloggers Alliance and the BYB Hub.



Wednesday, July 8, 2015

Yankees receiving equivalent to midseason acquisitions in Ellsbury and Miller

July is the time when trade rumors begin to swirl around Major League Baseball. For the New York Yankees it’s typically a busy period for such speculation because the club is generally in the playoff hunt and like any team they’re looking for upgrades, plus they have cash on hand to take on costly contracts.

Jacoby Ellsbury
Photo credit: Keith Allison via Flickr
This season might not be any different, but before the club gets deep into trading season, they have two All-Star caliber reinforcements coming back into the fold Wednesday in Jacoby Ellsbury and Andrew Miller.

Ellsbury has not played since May 19 and the Yankees have gone 22-21 during the span. The club was 20-17 with Ellsbury on the field (he missed three games before the DL stint). Brett Gardner has done a fantastic job in Ellsbury’s place atop the Yankees’ lineup, but it was the one-two punch being delivered almost nightly that sparked the Yankees earlier this season.

Ellsbury was hitting .324/.412/.372 with 29 runs scored and 14 stolen bases (both were tops in the league at the time) before the injury so adding him to a lineup that really didn’t suffer in his absence just makes it more difficult for opposing teams to handle.

I’d anticipate a slow start from Ellsbury simply because his rehab assignment was quite short and at the Yankees’ low-A affiliate in Tampa. He received just 13 plate appearances (two hits) during his rehab, so expecting some rust seems logical.

Andrew Miller
Photo credit: Arturo Pardavilla III via Flickr
With Miller, the Yankees again didn’t exactly suffer without him except for losing bullpen depth as Dellin Betances rolled with the closer role without much issue until his last couple of appearances. Bringing Miller back into the fold will lengthen the bullpen five talented relievers deep (add Justin Wilson, Chasen Shreve and Adam Warren) which is crucial when the starting staff gives less than six innings of work on average.

Miller was pitching to a 1.03 ERA and 0.68 WHIP with 17 saves before his injury. He accumulated 43 strikeouts in 26.1 innings. Yankees manager Joe Girardi said Miller will regain the closer role and since the Betances-to-Miller combo was so dominant, there’s no argument here.

Miller threw just one inning in a rehab appearance at Triple-A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre allowing two hits and striking out one. He, like Ellsbury, might show a bit of rust early in his return.

As the Yankees approach the All-Star break, becoming mostly whole again (Carlos Beltran is on the DL) is a big step in beginning a summer run. Getting Ellsbury and Miller back should provide a boost and further enhances the Yankees’ strengths on offense and in the bullpen.

Christopher Carelli is a freelance baseball writer. Besides his work here, Christopher is a featured Yankees writer for SNY.tv. His baseball commentary has also been published on Yahoo Sports and linked multiple times on MLB Trade Rumors’ Baseball Blogs Weigh In. He is a member of the Internet Baseball Writers Association of America, the Baseball Bloggers Alliance and the BYB Hub.



Tuesday, July 7, 2015

Yankees fail to cash in against Athletics, Sonny Gray

The New York Yankees dropped their series opener to the Oakland Athletics 4-3 in 10 innings after scoring two runs against Sonny Gray in the first inning. Some random thoughts about the game with notable news of the day mixed in.
  • The Yankees missed their opportunities when Gray was showing rust early on. Gray settled in, the offense stalled and the Yanks ultimately lost.
  • Any chance Nathan Eovaldi will consistently be able to pitch through the six inning (he’s only done it 10-of-18 times this season)?
Nathan Eovaldi
Photo credit: Arturo Pardavilla III via Flickr
  • Any chance Joe Girardi will ever allow him to? Based on his press conference after the game, it won't be anytime soon.
  • Alex Rodriguez has deserving All-Star numbers, but so do Nelson Cruz and Prince Fielder. No snub here.
  • Brett Gardner’s approach to the final vote is admirable. He’ll forgo the campaigning ala Nick Swisher and let his play do the talking ala Derek Jeter.
  • Chasen Shreve allowed his first home run since May 22. He's been incredible. Chalk it up to a bad pitch hit out by a good hitter.
  • If Stephen Drew is not going to hit at all, he’s going to need to do EVERYTHING else perfectly. Otherwise, what’s the point? His base-running gaffe might have cost the Yankees a run.
  • The Yankees will be keeping a close eye on Ben Zobrist in this series. He might be viewed as an upgrade over Drew if the club decides to part ways with the struggling second baseman.
  • IDellin Betances is showing some kinks in the armor? Two games, two home runs. He’d gone 54 games since his last one before Saturday's game-tying homer. Bring out the questions about usage.
  • Brian McCann continues to drive in runs; 90 RBIs within reach.
  • Adam Warren looks like he has settled right back into bullpen role with two strikeouts in his appearance Tuesday night.
  • The Yanks get Jacoby Ellsbury and Andrew Miller back for Wednesday’s game. It’s like two trades happening without losing anything. The Yankees performed well for the most part without their best athlete and their closer, so one would expect a boost with them back in the mix.
  • The Yankees send CC Sabathia to the hill Wednesday to try and avert a three-game losing streak. Bad skids are something the Yankees will need to avoid going forward. Sabathia will be pitching after being pushed back in the rotation. He last pitched on June 29 and owns a 4.37 ERA when rested for six-plus days.
  • The Yankees remain 1.5 games ahead of the Baltimore Orioles, but the Boston Red Sox won. The last place team in the division is now just five games back. I wrote this about the conjested and wide-open AL East for SNY today.
Christopher Carelli is a freelance baseball writer. Besides his work here, Christopher is a featured Yankees writer for SNY.tv. His baseball commentary has also been published on Yahoo Sports and linked multiple times on MLB Trade Rumors’ Baseball Blogs Weigh In. He is a member of the Internet Baseball Writers Association of America, the Baseball Bloggers Alliance and the BYB Hub.



Monday, July 6, 2015

Yankees weekend news wrap: First place, injury report and potential All-Stars

The New York Yankees regained first place in the American League East, taking two of three games from the Tampa Bay Rays this weekend at Yankee Stadium. The Yankees lost Carlos Beltran to the 15-day disabled list with a sprained oblique. The club failed to produce an All-Star starter on the AL roster for the first time in 16 seasons and just the second time since 1992.

Home sweet home


After a 3-4 road trip, the Yankees arrived back in New York and earned their first two walk-off wins of the season Friday and Saturday. Friday’s game featured two separate comebacks; one courtesy of a three-run game-tying home run by Mark Teixeira, and the other, via a three-run game-winning homer off the bat of Brian McCann in the 12th inning.

Teixeira and McCann have been incredibly solid this season, especially when compared with the production they provided in 2014. Each player has taken different approaches to beating the defensive shift; Teixeira powers through it (and over it), while McCann tries to go the other way when he can. It has been working well for both and the Yankees have to be pleased with their performance to date.

It’s also bears mentioning that Teixeira and McCann have been exceptional in the field as well. Teixeira seems to save errors from his infielders daily and McCann has been fantastic throwing runners out this season.

Saturday’s game was dominated by Michael Pineda – seven-plus innings, zero runs, five hits, 10 strikeouts and one walk. However, Dellin Betances allowed a game-tying two-run homer in the ninth inning. The Yankees walked off on a sacrifice bunt turned into a throwing error leading to Jose Pirela scoring the winning run. The Yankees need performances like Pineda’s going forward and a Betances blown save here is shocking, but he cannot be expected to nail down every single game he enters.

The Yankees could not finish off the sweep with Ivan Nova on the hill Sunday. Nova has been less than mediocre in his last two outings after his scoreless 2015 debut. Yesterday, Nova allowed four runs (three earned) on six hits and three walks in five innings of work. He struck out just one batter and committed a costly error of his own. The Yankees lost 8-1, but maintain a one-game lead over the Baltimore Orioles in the AL East.

Injury report


Beltran was coming off his second-straight productive month of the season after a dismal April. The injury on top of Jacoby Ellsbury already being on the disabled list amplifies the importance of the Yankees re-signing Chris Young and adding Garrett Jones via trade this offseason. Both Young and Jones have performed well during extended periods of play.

As for Beltran, another injury requiring time on the DL brings the Yankees' decision to sign an outfielder in his late 30's to a three-year contract to the forefront once again. Beltran is hitting .260/.309/.430 with 18 doubles, seven home runs and 30 RBIs on the season.

Andrew Miller will pitch in a rehab game before the team decides on when he returns to the club. His addition is just one key to the Yankees staying in race this season.

Ellsbury has three rehab games under his belt and the club hopes he is ready to return soon, maybe even this week. His presence in the lineup has been missed, even though Brett Gardner has done a great job filling in at the top of the order.

All-Star candidates


While the Yankees missed out on starters for the All-Star Game, they have some bonafide contenders to grab roster spots as reserves; namely Betances, Gardner, McCann, Teixeira and Alex Rodriguez. I believe Betances is a no-doubter and since Miguel Cabrera hit the disabled list this weekend, Teixeira’s path got a lot easier. Gardner should make the team, but I wouldn’t doubt it if it took a few injuries to come along before he is selected. McCann has an outside shot and A-Rod’s fate lies in the rest of the AL players. Who knows what they think of voting him in. For a more detailed look at each of the Yankees’ candidates, please check out my article at SNY.tv.

Christopher Carelli is a freelance baseball writer. Besides his work here, Christopher is a featured Yankees writer for SNY.tv. His baseball commentary has also been published on Yahoo Sports and linked multiple times on MLB Trade Rumors’ Baseball Blogs Weigh In. He is a member of the Internet Baseball Writers Association of America, the Baseball Bloggers Alliance and the BYB Hub.