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Thursday, April 28, 2016

Video: Yankees slump reaches epic proportions

The New York Yankees offensive woes continue to mount. When the club gets quality pitching, they score even less, and the results have dropped the Yankees into last place in the American League East.

Over the last 15 games (including Wednesday's 3-2 loss) the club has scored just 37 runs. The Yanks scored 35 runs in their first five games of the season. The worst part about the slump is that there always seems to be one player getting hits, but whoever that is, he is the only one doing so. Then, the following day he passes the torch. The Yanks need a group of hitters to get hot in order to squelch the slump.

Here is some video displaying the metrics within the offensive skid (prior to Wednesday's 3-2 loss) that has been the main culprit to an 8-12 start to the season. The Yankees need to turn it around fast, or else the next five months could be quite miserable.

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 The Cauldron via Sports Illustrated, 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, April 25, 2016

Yankees hit road after winning series against Rays

The New York Yankees won their final series of the homestand despite a rough Sunday outing from Michael Pineda. Jacoby Ellsbury was the hero Friday and Brett Gardner’s walk-off home run in the bottom of the ninth Saturday aided Masahiro Tanaka’s seven-inning, two-run effort.

The Yankees (7-10) open a three-game series versus the Texas Rangers (10-9) Monday night as they begin part a nine-game road trip. The Yankees will miss Cole Hamels on his regularly scheduled day due to a groin strain. The Yankees will still face two left-handed starters at the front and backend of the series. The Yankees will counter with Nathan Eovaldi on Monday, Luis Severino on Tuesday and CC Sabathia in Wednesday's finale.


The Yankees have lost eight of their last 11 games and need to win four of their next five games to finish April at .500. Considering how they have been playing, getting back to the .500 mark would be some kind of feat and would surely require better efforts across the board, but the Yanks especially need a resurgence from their stagnant offense.

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 The Cauldron via Sports Illustrated, 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, April 19, 2016

Yankees look for stroke with Athletics in town

The New York Yankees are set to host a three-game series against the Oakland Athletics beginning Tuesday evening. The Yankees (5-6) have endured an uneven start to the season, while the A’s (6-7) are coming off a series victory over the defending World Series champion Kansas City Royals.


The Yankees will send Michael Pineda, Nathan Eovaldi and Luis Severino to the hill in that order. The trio will face an Oakland lineup that is hitting a collective .216 with a .612 OPS. On paper the matchup seems to be a good one for each pitcher, but they'll need to show they can get through the third time of the order still on top.

The A’s will counter with Eric Surkamp, Kendall Graveman and Rich Hill, thus missing Oakland’s ace Sonny Gray. The Yankees offense will be tested as both Surkamp and Hill are left-handers, something that has given the club fits since last season.

The Yankees hope Monday’s off-day helps to erase the memory of a terrible slide with runners in scoring position, having gone 1-for-35 in the Seattle series this past weekend.

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 The Cauldron via Sports Illustrated, 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, April 14, 2016

Video: New York Yankees player profiles

This post will be updated as new videos are created by the team at Sporting News Media. As of now there are a handful of Yankees player profiles and the club's season preview within the video player. The post will remained pinned to the right of the site as a featured post. Enjoy!

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 The Cauldron via Sports Illustrated, 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, April 12, 2016

Yankees hit road, get warm in...Toronto?

The New York Yankees were not treated nicely by the schedule makers to begin the season. They’ve had to play in some miserable conditions and faced a couple of tough competitors each with legitimate playoff aspirations. The only thing that changes as the Yankees meet the Toronto Blue Jays for three games beginning Tuesday is the weather — or rather the implications of weather — which does not pose a factor under the Rogers Centre roof.

The Yankees begin the series with a 3-2 record which has been highlighted by some struggling starting pitching, offset by impressive offensive production throughout the lineup. Only one Yankees starter has completed at least six innings of work in a start (CC Sabathia) but the club is hitting a collective .292 which ranks second in MLB.

As the Yankees begin the second time through the rotation they hope that each hurler can begin to work deeper into games, something that is extremely important to the inner workings of the bullpen. This is especially true with the relief crew essentially down one pitcher in Aroldis Chapman, forcing the Yankees to utilize Chasen Shreve, Dellin Betances and Andrew Miller a bit more often than they might hope. Length from the rotation was an issue in 2015, and is something that has to change for 2016.

The Blue Jays enter the series with a 3-4 record and Sunday’s 3-0 shutout of the Boston Red Sox put an end to a four-game losing streak. The Blue Jays’ powerful offense has scored five or more runs just twice thus far this season, suggesting that a breakout could be on the way. The Yankees will have to navigate the Blue Jays’ lineup with Masahiro Tanaka, Michael Pineda and Nathan Eovaldi on the hill. The Yankees will face Aaron Sanchez, J.A. Happ and Marcus Stroman respectively.

The Yankees want some revenge for losing the division last season (and a 6-13 record versus Toronto), while the Blue Jays are out to prove they're not a one-year wonder. The first series of the season between the AL East foes should entertain.

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 The Cauldron via Sports Illustrated, 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, April 8, 2016

Quick Pitch: Yankees set to battle Tigers, weather

The New York Yankees managed to get in their three games at Yankee Stadium despite some rough baseball conditions. The Yanks begin a three-game set against the Detroit Tigers at Comerica Park Friday, and newsflash, the weather is not supposed to be good. The game time temperature for the 1:10 p.m. start will be around 37 degrees, and for good measure there could be rain and snow for Detroit’s home opener. Saturday's high temperature is expected to reach 32 degrees and the current forecast calls for 2 inches of snow Sunday. Baseball!


Away from the weather, the Yankees starters will have their hands filled with a Detroit lineup currently hitting a collective .309 with a .915 team OPS. The Tigers swept the Minnesota Twins, outscoring their opponents 15-1 in the series.

Luis Severino gets the call for the opening game of the series, followed by CC Sabathia and Masahiro Tanaka. The rotation will need to get better efforts than they have received in their last two outings.

The Yankees offense will test Detroits pitching staff after exploding for 24 runs in the final two games of their home-opening series against the Houston Astros. Starlin Castro is 7-for-12 with two home runs and eight RBIs on the young season, providing a spark for the club at the bottom of the order. The club has seven homers with mark Teixeira also knocking two over the fence.

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 The Cauldron via Sports Illustrated, 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, April 7, 2016

Quick Pitch: Why can't I be completely happy with Yankees performance?

It is incredibly difficult to not indulge in the fantastic offensive performance the New York Yankees pumped out in Wednesday night’s thumping of the Houston Astros. I even praised Ivan Nova last night after he turned in a very good relief stint. My pleasure was especially heightened after the Yankees gave away Tuesday’s contest. But, as great as it was the offense knocked Collin McHugh from the game after he recorded just one out and then continued to tack on runs, I cannot shake Michael Pineda’s performance.

Am I being greedy in asking that Pineda pitch just a mediocre game once handed a five-run lead after one inning— let’s say, six innings and three runs (he allowed six in five innings)? It is entirely possible that I am. Shouldn’t I and anyone else who is thinking about the one poor aspect of a 16-6 win be able to look past Pineda’s performance?

I actually don’t think so because it was classic Pineda. His stuff was actually moving quite well Wednesday. The problem is that he was beginning his pitches in the wrong part of the batter's zone and his many of his offerings drifted over the middle of the plate. Three of those pitches were deposited over the fence, and others he got lucky with.

David Cone commented on Pineda’s location issues often during the YES Network telecast — he was missing in the zone, a continued problem for Pineda. Cone said that Pineda has great control, but when he loses it, he is still throwing strikes. Bingo. Sometime, and soon, Pineda needs to master having his pitches rotate at the edge of and then drop outside of the strike zone. Use that great movement and force players to chase, versus allowing them to wait for the mistake that seems to come too often.

Was I happy with the Yankees offensive outburst? Indeed, I was. Am I concerned about Pineda, who I believe is one of the keys to the club’s success. in 2016 I absolutely am.

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 The Cauldron via Sports Illustrated, 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, April 6, 2016

Game Review: MLB Manager 2016

Does the following describe you?

You watch baseball, and often. You yell at your television when you believe the manager of your favorite team makes a suspect decision. You fire barbs on Twitter when your team's general manager trades one of your favorite players, or signs a washed up veteran. If this sounds like you, you should grab your phone or tablet and download MLB Manager 2016.

MLB Manager 2016 by Out of the Park Developments is available for Android devices and Apple iOS devices for $4.99, allowing you to constantly have your team at your fingertips.

If you love baseball sims, there isn’t one better than MLB Manager 2016 which operates as an official licensee of MLB.com, MiLB.com and the Major League Baseball Players Association. I’ve been playing this game for several years now and the latest version does not disappoint.

As was the case in previous editions, the game touches on every facet of running a true MLB franchise. Fair warning, the game is quite addicting. You’ll likely find yourself completely immersed in your season, striving to reach the top of the standings.

There are three variations of play; Major League, Fictional League and Historical League (via in-app purchase). I decided to play a Major League season with the 2016 New York Yankees.


After selecting a team you are provided the owner’s perspective, a budget and the ability to set your rotation and bullpen, create depth charts and lineups to use against right/left-handed pitching. Among other nuances, you can select how aggressive you are on the bases and where you place your fielders in respect to situations (yes, there is shifting if you desire).

In an individual game you have complete control and comes with play-by-play if desired. The game can be played at a slow methodical pace (literally one pitch at a time) or there are plenty of chances to advance the game through various simulations. If you decide to use the simulation advances of which there are plenty, they are good at sticking to strategy and can be changed at any time.


From a season standpoint, I prefer to play games one by one, versus advancing through days and weeks at a time. But, everyone has their preferences and the game does provide alerts in between games (i.e. if trades are proposed or your team suffers an injury) so you can make your own roster decisions.

As the season moves along players get hurt (Jacoby Ellsbury got hurt on Opening Day, which is incredibly predictable) and some players become disgruntled because of playing time (Brett Gardner grew tired of sitting for Aaron Hicks). The same happens for demoted players (Rob Refsnyder was on the original roster, but I altered it to match the Yankees’ Opening Day roster). The morale factor is not just for your 25-man roster, but also applies to the minor leaguers looking for a shot at the show so you need to check on this often.


As a general manager you can propose trades and run the rookie draft mid-season as well as manage a complete minor league system. Once July hits, the trade chatter picks up. Some of the trades proposed to me were a stretch, but this has improved some from past iterations of the game. You can reject or counter trade proposals, and of course you can reach out to other clubs with your own offers. The offseason is much like MLB too. There are arbitration hearings and free agent negotiations. Your owner sets a new budget and expectations for the upcoming season and away you go. Again, your focus is controlled by you, or by the simulator.

MLB Manager 2016 remains difficult to put down. The ability to change the type of variation, allowing seasons to transpire one after the other with the same team personally appeals to me, but having the chance to select from loads of teams makes it a game that can be played over and over without the same results. I strongly recommend MLB Manager 2016 to anyone who enjoys baseball simulation games.

Out of the Park Developments also released Out of the Park Baseball 17 in March and is available for PC/Mac/Linux. This game is even more intricate than the iOS version. For more information, visit their website.

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 The Cauldron via Sports Illustrated, 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, April 4, 2016

Quick Pitch: Yankees' Opening Day rained out

The New York Yankees 2016 Opening Day has been rained out and rescheduled for Tuesday at 1:05 p.m. Gates will open at 11:00 a.m. and ceremonies are still hoped to be held prior to game time.

Despite the fact that clubs (and governments and fans) invest hundreds of millions and up to billions of dollars to build ballparks, why in the world don't they all have roofs? At the point that such exorbitant funds are being invested, I simply do not understand why roofs are not part of the equation especially in areas like New York where April weather pretty much sucks. I gather the financial implications of losing games to rainouts do not amount to the need for a roof. OK, so then what?

The alternative of having the first week or two of games in warmer weather and/or stadiums with roofs is great in theory, but those clubs don't want to have that leveled on them every season. The reason? They won't get the gates for the second and third games of the series they would otherwise in the summer when kids are able to attend games. This is understandable, and brings me back to ALL new stadiums being built with retractable roofs.

It's too late now for some of the newer ballparks like Yankee Stadium, but maybe going forward having the ability to play EVERY game as scheduled would be a welcomed occurrence for the teams and the fans. It probably won't happen, but it is nice to dream.

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 The Cauldron via Sports Illustrated, 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, April 2, 2016

Yankees give CC Sabathia one last chance

The New York Yankees believe that CC Sabathia can figure out how to survive as a starting pitcher. There is one caveat; the clock is ticking.

CC Sabathia
Photo: Keith Allison
The Yankees cannot simply eat the rest of Sabathia’s contract right now, nor should the thought enter their collective minds. However, there has to be a limit to any damage his performances might cause the overall well-being of the club.

To put it mildly, Sabathia is on a short leash, one that Ivan Nova is holding. To put it strongly, the Yankees have given Sabathia an ultimatum; pitch well or lose your slot. Yankees general manager Brian Cashman uttering of two words, “For now,” pertaining to Sabathia being the fifth starter more or less says it all.

Defining “pitch well” is important too. Sabathia’s role as the fifth starter means one thing; keep the team in the game, and if that’s three runs over six innings on average, that might be enough. Truth be told, would the Yankees get more from Nova on a consistent basis? I say probably not; he’s arguable their most inconsistent starting pitcher. Further, how many teams have a fifth starter with an ERA under 4.50? Not many.

The Yankees success or failure in 2016 has much less to do with who is in the fifth starter role, than what happens with the top four arms in the rotation. The 132 starts to be made by the pitchers slotted one through four will tell the story of this season, not the 30 starts the fifth guy might make.

And that’s of grave concern to the Yankees. If one starter of the group consisting of Masahiro Tanaka, Michael Pineda, Nathan Eovaldi or Luis Severino succumbs to an injury, then both Sabathia and Nova begin to get starts at the same time. That is what the Yankees should truly be concerned about. My guess is if the Yankees start Sabathia and Nova 40-50 times combined this season, the team will be in trouble.

The Yankees do not want to set themselves up for failure when Sabathia, Nova or whoever makes a start at the back end of the rotation, but giving Sabathia the chance now has made the most sense from the very beginning of the so-called “competition.” Based on Sabathia’s finish to the 2015 season (as well as Nova’s), combined with the fact that the big lefty would be more or less useless in the bullpen for extended periods of time, made Sabathia the right person for the job. Sabathia's repertoire is completely unsuitable for the bullpen, especially in today’s game filled with high octane relief innings.

The Yankees decided to give Sabathia a chance to show the brace is helping his knee and last September was not a fluke. The team is providing him one last-ditch effort to prove he has the ability to transform his game, and if he cannot do that in due time, they’ll move him to the bullpen to give Nova a try. My guess is that the Yankees will end up using Sabathia and Nova interchangeably as the season progresses based on the opponent, provided of course the other four arms remain healthy.

Fortunately for the Yankees this situation is fluid right now because the rest of the group is healthy. If an injury occurs to any of the front four of the rotation, the Yankees could find themselves using two pitchers who might not crack other team's starting five. Such an instance could put a damper on any postseason aspirations the Yankees maintain with Opening Day fast approaching.

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 The Cauldron via Sports Illustrated, 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, March 28, 2016

Quick Pitch: Yankees’ roster battles become clearer

The long slog toward Opening Day is almost over for the New York Yankees and as such the roster is rounding into form. The Yankees still have final decisions to make, but the participants in competitions are dwindling.

Logo: SportsLogos.net

Backup Catcher


Gary Sanchez lost his chance to break camp last week after showing signs of needing more work, and the fact that his service time clock was an issue, the move makes absolute sense. Austin Romine and Carlos Corporan remain in camp, with the former likely the favorite to back up Brian McCann to start the season.

Utility Infielder


Rob Refsnyder was giving every opportunity to show he could handle third base, and then took two bad-hop bouncers to the face across two straight games. He needs more work there and the Yankees are going to give it to him at Triple-A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre. Refsnyder might be disappointed, but he should be happy the Yanks see enough in him to want to continue the experiment. Plain and simple, he cannot and would not get regular reps at third base in New York while he can at Triple-A.

Ronald Torreyes and Pete Kozma are the players left at Yankees camp. I would rather see Torreyes given the job of the two simply because he might have a little more bat in him than Kozma. Both players are able to play second, short and third base which is exactly what the club needs. There is of course a chance that the Yankees make a late spring move to bring in a player who they feel is comfortable playing those positions.

Fifth Starter


CC Sabathia pitched exactly how the Yankees will need him to during the season in his last appearance – 5 IP, 2 ER, 6 H, 1 HR, 4 K, 1 BB. Meanwhile, Ivan Nova was awful in his last start – 4.2 IP, 5 ER, 5 H, 3 HR 5 K, 3 BB. I have felt from the beginning that CC would claim the fifth starter if all others were healthy and I remain confident that is how this will end with the same health caveat.

Bullpen Roles


Here is how I see the bullpen shaping up once the Yankees head north:

Closer: Andrew Miller (Aroldis Chapman will begin a 30-game suspension)
Setup: Dellin Betances
Setup: Chasen Shreve
Middle Relief: Bryan Mitchell
Middle Relief: Branden Pinder
Middle Relief: Kirby Yates
Long man: Nova

If the Yankees send Mitchell to Scranton to stretch out, then Johnny Barbato is likely to grab a spot. If not Barbato might be the first reliever called up when the SWB/NY shuttle service begins.

With one week to go, manager Joe Girardi has plenty of choices to make.

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 The Cauldron via Sports Illustrated, 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, March 21, 2016

Quick Pitch: Yankees deal with Ellsbury injury, Nova regression

The New York Yankees ran their spring training record to 8-9-2 with two wins this weekend, but not all the news was rosy.

Jacoby Ellsbury was hit on the right wrist Saturday which will keep him out of action until at least Thursday according to MLB.com’s Bryan Hoch. Ellsbury had X-rays and a CT scan which both showed no fractures. With two weeks left until the start of the regular season Ellsbury should have enough time to be ready for Opening Day.

Jacoby Ellsbury
Photo: Keith Allison
If Ellsbury doesn’t heel quickly enough, or if the Yankees botch another handling of X-rays/scans and there is something more coming, Aaron Hicks will take over center field according to manager Joe Girardi. As I mentioned at SNY Saturday, Hicks taking over center field makes sense because he’s a better fielder now than Brett Gardner, and it allows Gardner to stick in a stable situation in left field. Hicks was traded for to fill any vacancy that pops up in the outfield, so when one of the starters goes down, Hicks slides into their place.

The fifth starter “competition” between CC Sabathia and Ivan Nova became closer insofar as outsider judgment terms with Nova’s 4 1/3 innings of four-run ball in which he allowed eight base runners. In my view, Sabathia is a clear cut favorite for the role despite the Yankees trying to spin it otherwise. If Nova struggles in his next appearance, don’t be surprised if he begins to work out of the bullpen the rest of the spring so he is ready for such a role when the regular season begins.

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 The Cauldron via Sports Illustrated, 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, March 19, 2016

Quick Pitch: Yankees' Sabathia not helping own cause

Spring Training Game 17: Orioles 11, Yankees 2 (Yanks' spring record: 6-9-2)

CC Sabathia
Photo: Keith Allison
The New York Yankees have six starters for five spots. Manager Joe Girardi has been adamant that the "best five" will be in the rotation with the sixth being relegated to the bullpen. CC Sabathia has had the worst spring of the six thus far, yet until I hear it from the horse's mouth, I won't believe the club will shift the 35-year-old veteran to the bullpen.

Forget the money (though it's an unavoidable hitch), forget the humility, think about what the club needs right now. The fifth starter on any team is a crapshoot. They'll have good games, but likely more bad over the course of season.

Sabathia's start Friday night was a microcosm of that type of performance. He was shelled early allowing four runs in the first inning including a home run. Then he settled down and didn't allow another earned run the rest of his stint (he allowed three more runs, but was undone by an error by third baseman Rob Refsnyder).

So, let's look at this way, is Sabathia better in a starter role every fifth day than Ivan Nova? Or is Sabathia going to provide more assistance to the bullpen?

Sabathia has ZERO innings in the bullpen. His pitching profile DOES NOT fit the bullpen, and you're foolish to think Sabathia will be the one getting mop up innings in games that get out of control at the onset of the season; not for the investment they have in him (I told you the money was in play). Right now, the Yankees have too many questions about middle relief with closer Aroldis Chapman out for the season's first month creating an extra hole and young pitchers performing erratically early on.

Nova on the other hand CAN help in the pen. He's not exactly experienced in the role, but at least he'll be able to utilize his repertoire of pitches to get important outs. I cannot see that in Sabathia.

What does the scenario of Sabathia in the rotation and Nova to the bullpen to start the season provide the Yankees? Time. One month to assess CC in true action (where the pitcher is not "working on stuff") in an effort to see if he can or cannot at least keep the club in the games he pitches.

That's all a fifth starter is really supposed to do and for the life of me I still believe Sabathia has it in him to become a viable back end of the rotation starter. Until I see Sabathia eating sunflower seeds with Dellin Betances and Andrew Miller in the bullpen, I won't think otherwise.

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 The Cauldron via Sports Illustrated, 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, March 18, 2016

Quick Pitch: Tanaka, Severino and Refsnyder

Spring Training Game 16: Yankees 7, Pirates 2 (Yanks' spring record: 6-8-2)

Luis Severino
Photo: Arturo Pardavila III
The New York Yankees presumed Opening Day starter, Masahiro Tanaka, endured his first rough outing of the spring, while future ace in the making, Luis Severino sparkled once again in Thursday’s matinee.

Tanaka opened the spring with a five scoreless innings, but he threw 57 pitches in just two innings and allowed two runs on four hits Thursday, including a home run to Andrew McCutchen. Severino looked rusty in his first start of the spring (five earned runs), but has now made three straight scoreless appearances since (10 2/3 innings) with 12 strikeouts and zero walks.

Sticking to the “it’s-too-early-to-tell” mantra, we are talking about seven total innings of work for Tanaka and 12 for Severino. Tanaka has stated he has been disappointed in his fastball the past two starts and seems to understand that things need to get better quickly since he has just three starts left before Opening Day.

I’d temper expectations for Severino, not because I don’t feel confident in his abilities – I certainly do – but more so because he is young and inexperienced and he’ll have his growing pains. Nonetheless, it’s great to see Severino pretty much picking up where he left off 2015 and I’m excited to see him continue to blossom.

Refsnyder making his case


I have to hand it to Rob Refsnyder. The young man is resilient and determined to make the Yankees in any way possible. The Yankees have transitioned him from the outfield to second base, and this spring asked him to learn third base even though he still needs work at second.

The Yankees like Refsnyder’s right-handed bat – the reason he is still around – and they must be impressed with his demeanor. Refsnyder openly said he would do whatever it took to make the squad this season. He’s performed OK at the plate – 5-for-22, .701 OPS and he hit his first home run Thursday – and maybe more importantly he’s shown an ability to be serviceable at third base while showing no signs of it affecting his learning curve at second base.

In my view, Refsnyder makes the team provided he stays healthy and the wheels don’t come completely off from this point 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 The Cauldron via Sports Illustrated, 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, March 17, 2016

Quick Pitch: Gardner returns to Yankees

Spring Training Game 15: Blue Jays 1, Yankees 2 (Yanks Spring Record: 5-8-2)

Brett Gardner
Photo: Keith Allison
The New York Yankees are not worried about wins and losses in spring training, but rather being whole when they head north from Tampa. They got a step closer to reaching that goal as outfielder Brett Gardner made his first appearance in a game this spring.

Gardner went 0-for-2, grounding out and striking out, looking understandably rusty at the plate. Gardner was taking it easy in the spring due to a wrist injury he suffered in last season's wild card game while catching a ball and falling into the outfield wall.

Gardner will not play again until Friday as Yankees manager Joe Girardi noted during the game telecast that there is no need to rush him back with over two weeks left in spring training. It's reasonable to believe that Gardner will start to play in back to back games by the end of next week and get full games in by beginning of the following week. Gardner can still get 40-50 plate appearances before the regular season opener on April 4.

Castro impressing at plate


Starlin Castro is making his transition to the Yankees look quite easy. Of course it is spring training, but Castro has shown there is plenty of life in his bat thus far. Castro's two-run homer Monday night was the Yankees lone run support and his 1-for-2 performance lifted his spring average to .429. Besides Castro's offensive output, he has been solid at second base. Losing Adam Warren was tough for the Yankees, but there is a chance they found a gem in Castro.

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 The Cauldron via Sports Illustrated, 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, March 16, 2016

Quick Pitch: Nova, Mitchell might provide more value to Yankees' pen

Spring Training Game 14: Yankees 6, Red Sox 3 (Yanks spring record: 4-8-2)

New York Yankees right-handers Ivan Nova and Bryan Mitchell combined for seven innings of one-run ball allowing just four hits and one walk against the majority of the Red Sox regular lineup Monday evening.

Ivan Nova
Photo: Keith Allison
Nova, more so than Mitchell, is being considered for a rotation spot this spring. Nova’s main competition seems to be CC Sabathia, and Yankees manager Joe Girardi has stated numerous times there are no locks for rotation spots. He claims he’s taking the best pitchers north.

It’s hard to believe if Sabathia is healthy that he doesn’t grab the fifth spot especially considering the amount of money he’ll be earning. If the rest of the starting staff is also healthy, Nova will be relegated to the bullpen and I’m beginning to feel this is not a bad thing.

Anyone who reads my work on a regular basis knows I’m not a big fan of Nova. I believe he has potential, but he’s shown to be incredibly streaky and even when he is going good there are arguments that he’s perfected the smoke and mirrors act. It stands to reason that with five healthy starters, Nova would become the long man in the bullpen and it makes sense because he can eat innings when necessary. I’ve got another idea, one which the Yankees may be forced to embrace.

Nova might be better served as a pitcher who can pitch in closer games in the sixth and seventh innings as the right-handed middle reliever. The reason I bring this up is that the young Scranton/NY shuttle relievers have shown plenty of sophomore growing pains this spring. There is time for one or two of them to figure it out, but with Aroldis Chapman out for the season’s first 30 games, the club is already down a reliever. Why not have the best remaining pitcher take important innings when a righty is needed?

This affects Mitchell as well. Does Mitchell provide more value in the bullpen as the long man, or as another go-to righty in the season's first month? I understand and tend to agree with leaving Mitchell stretched out in the minors if all things are equal. Right now that is not the case.

Nick Rumbelow and Nick Goody did not look good in Monday’s game and have been up and down this spring. Branden Pinder has been OK thus far. Jacob Lindgren has already been demoted, and James Pazos might not be far behind based in his performance. The veterans brought in (Vinnie Pestano and Anthony Swarzak) have had varying results and Kirby Yates and Tyler Olsen the only players on the 40-man roster who have not allowed a run in their appearances this spring. Those are not big names. Another option, Johnny Barbato, was impressive in his first couple of appearances and then got knocked around in his last.

The point, the Yankees have no sure things in the bullpen beyond Chasen Shreve, Dellin Betances, Andrew Miller and Chapman when he’s back. Nova and Mitchell improve the bullpen and if Girardi is set on bring the best arms north, they should be considered for strong bullpen roles relegating the last spot(s) to the shuttle kids.

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 The Cauldron via Sports Illustrated, 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, March 14, 2016

Quick Pitch: Yankees’ Sabathia continues lengthy transition

Spring Training Game 13: Phillies 3, Yankees 0 (Record: 3-8-2)

#StillTransitioningAfterAllTheseYears


I’m baffled by New York Yankees left-hander CC Sabathia’s comment to YES Network reporter Jack Curry after Sunday’s ugly start in which he said he’s working on his transition. Sabathia’s transformation has been going on for a few years now; but it’s just now dawning on him that he has to make it work?

I know that Sabathia has acknowledged in the past that he’s not the same pitcher (one with a power fastball), but was he just saying that because that’s what he thought we wanted to hear? Maybe he’s been stubborn up to this time; feeling that he could get by with an 88-mph fastball and mediocre offspeed stuff? It’s evident that if he doesn’t have great location and his pitches have little-to-no movement he’ll have a hard time winning ballgames.

I’ve stated that I feel Sabathia can make the transition recently at SNY. My thought is that Sabathia was held back emotionally and physically in recent years. Sabathia has gone through rehab for alcoholism (maybe it was a problem all this time) and is wearing a protective knee brace to aid his delivery; it's possible both ailments affected his confidence. Now it’s up to him to perfect the pitches. If he cannot, it’s going to cost the Yankees another $50 million for next to no production.

#BeReadyWhenYourTurnComes


The Yankees made several cuts after Sunday’s game including sending top prospects Aaron Judge, Jorge Mateo, Jacob Lindgren and James Kaprielian to minor league camp.

Judge had one hit in 16 plate appearances, an opposite field homer, but the work in Triple-A this season should do him well.

Mateo went 3-for-15, but showed off his speed and a bit of power (a triple and homer) demonstrating the reason why he is mentioned as “untouchable” in trade talks.

Lindgren hasn't pitched well this spring (15.43 ERA in 2 1/3 innings), but after missing most of 2015, it’s not all that surprising that he has work ahead of him. If Lindgren figures things out, he’ll surely be a part of the anticipated 2016 version of the Scranton/NY shuttle.

Kaprielian posted a 4.91 ERA in 3 2/3 innings, and there is plenty of seasoning left despite the fact that he is potentially on a fast track to the majors.

#NotWorriedYet


The Yankees offense has been shut out three times now this spring.

#Boring


Monday is an off day for the Yanks. No game. No workouts. No news? We’ll see.

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 The Cauldron via Sports Illustrated, 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.



Sunday, March 13, 2016

Quick Pitch: Yankees' Severino rounding into form

Spring Training Game 12: Blue Jays 1, Yankees 2 (Record: 3-7-2)

At 22 years old, no one should expect Luis Severino to be great every time he takes the mound, but was pretty darn good Saturday afternoon against the Tampa Bay Rays. Severino hurled 3 2/3 innings of four-hit ball without allowing a run. Severino struck out four batters and walked none while locating 43 of his 59 pitches for strikes.

Yankees manager Joe Girardi was pleased with the effort.

"He looked good, really good," Girardi said according to MLB.com’s Michael Kolligian. "That's what you want to see out of him; he threw all his pitches, controlled innings for the most part. Velocity was great. Slider was good today, his changeup, he threw a couple good ones."

Many fans want Severino to take the leap from rookie to ace despite having just over 60 innings of major league ball under his belt. I believe it’s an unfair burden. Severino will be good, maybe even very good but we should expect there to be some blips on the radar as the season progresses. What’s more, the Yankees don’t need him to be an ace this season. The status will come, with time. #SevyWillBeAceSomeday

Speaking about the Yankees offense seems pointless since only one everyday player, Carlos Beltran, made the trip. He's doing just fine, hitting .417 this spring.

OK, maybe there is one area of concern; Gary Sanchez. The rookie, fighting for the backup catcher role, has yet to get a hit in 13 plate appearances this spring. Maybe he is pressing? Or feeling pressure? The good news is he has time to turn things around. The bad news is Austin Romine is hitting. #StayTuned

The configuration of middle relievers remains a mystery. Johnny Barbato (two earned runs on two hits) looked like a Triple-A reliever for the first time this spring, and James Pazos (allowed an inherited runner to score, facing a lefty) is not making matters easy on himself with his performance. Nick Goody struck out all three batters he faced, marking his third straight scoreless appearance. Branden Pinder should remain in good graces as he tossed a clean frame as well.

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 The Cauldron via Sports Illustrated, 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, March 12, 2016

Quick Pitch: Tanaka, Shreve shine for Yankees

Spring Training Game 11: Orioles 1, Yankees 7 (Record: 3-6-2)

It’s early, but Masahiro Tanaka is settling some concerns the New York Yankees might have had after the right-hander had surgery to remove a bone spur following last season’s 24-start effort.

Masahiro Tanaka
Photo credit: Keith Allison
Tanaka has now tossed five scoreless innings this spring after a three-inning stint Friday. Tanaka allowed one hit, hit a batter and struck out three hitters. Tanaka also generated five ground ball outs and allowed just one fly ball, which is good news for a guy who frankly allows more homers than one would like. Granted, the Orioles sent a minor league squad to Tampa, but as I watched Tanaka throw, I thought the major league regulars would not have had much success either. Tanaka threw 30 of his 40 pitches for strikes and Brian McCann liked what he saw.

"He's in total control of what he's doing, and I just go off of him," McCann said according to Bryan Hoch at MLB.com. "He's throwing the ball great, he's moving around great. He doesn't seem to have any problems. I think he feels really good."

Tanaka wants to pitch 200 innings this season, and if he can manage it, I suspect he’ll compile the type of numbers that warrant his $22 million salary — 18 W, 210 K, 2.85 ERA — #TanakaTime.

The Yankees scored all seven of their runs with two outs which made Yankees manager Joe Girardi quite pleased and surely stressed out Orioles manager Buck Showalter. Buck will tell anyone who cares to listen otherwise, but going winless for the spring thus far has got to be starting to eat away at him.

Chasen Shreve looked to be in midseason form quickly dispensing of the four Orioles batters he faced, striking out two. I wrote at SNY this week that Shreve was going to be an important factor in the Yankees bullpen. He’s been great this spring — much like he was for the first 83.3333 percent (that’s five of six months) of the 2015 season. The Yankees would be ecstatic if Shreve could be the fourth man in the bullpen able to handle critical innings in 2016.

Finally, it looks to me that the combination of Didi Gregorius and Starlin Castro up the middle is going to work out just fine. The double plays I’ve seen them turn have been smooth. There might be some growing pains along the way, but so far there seems to be a cohesive tandem growing 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 The Cauldron via Sports Illustrated, 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.