Monday, July 6, 2015


An interesting nugget that Andrew Marchand of ESPN wrote about.  Now it's merely speculation as it was for me when we wrote SURE THE YANKEE DEFENSE IS SHODDY, BUT WHAT TO DO?. Back when I wrote that in April, I was convinced the Yankees "cooled" on Rob Refsnyder:

"It's my opinion that they really don't have much of an interest in bringing up Refsnyder..."

I stick by that. I mean sure, they could bring him up but I believe it would be a showcase to flip him. I honestly don't think the Yankees really feel like they need the guy anymore. I feel like that would be a big mistake... and that brings me back to Andrew Marchand.

He writes: "There are some on social media who believe Brian Cashman should just make a deal for Drew's replacement. Cashman has looked around, but has not found anyone better who is available. Drew does play good defense and hits some home runs. It is not good enough, but it may be better than the alternatives.

The Yankees are not set up to make a big deal anyway because they want to preserve their top youth and do not want future salary issues to weigh down their long-term planning. If the Yankees do make a relatively big trade, Refsnyder is the type of guy who may go.

(In Photo: Aaron Judge)
He is a prospect, but he is a tad below the Yankees' top-tier guys, such as Aaron Judge and Luis Severino, whom they don't want to deal."

Those bold portions are key, and while many will gloss over them, they shouldn't be glossed over. The reality is, the Yankees for some reason like Stephen Drew.  They have used Jose Pirela and he's done some good things, but not enough.

Look, if it was me, I make a hard left, and throw Refsnyder the job A.S.A.P. and see what he can do.  The reality though is I just think the Yankees will end up giving him up and rotate Pirela and Drew at second to get through the season.  Do I agree with it? Nope... but the Yanks do that kind of thing... and I guess this post is about telling you it's gonna happen.

Let's hope not though. I really want to see Ref in the Bigs... in pinstripes.

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With the Yankees having an off day on Thursday,  I searched for something to fill my baseball soul. I went to my son's American Legion game and when I saw that the kids on the field had no idea how many outs were left in the inning, I had to go home.  I couldn't take it, so on went ESPN and the College Home Run Derby.  Similar to the Major League version, players compete against each other for the top home run crown.  Now in its 6th year, the College Home Run Derby features three rounds with the final of the three rounds showcasing the two top home run hitters for the evening.

According to the website, "...the annual TD Ameritrade College Home Run Derby showcases some of college baseball’s premier sluggers, all of whom have ranked among the nation’s home run leaders during the 2015 season." And this year, Alex Rodriguez's nephew, Joe Dunand, a freshman at North Carolina State, competed.
When ESPN interviewed the young man before he took center stage at the contest, I have to say I was impressed with his confidence and his articulate voice.  According to North Carolina's WRAL, "Dunand’s uncle is Alex Rodriguez, the controversial Yankees third baseman. And the way Dunand has embraced his roots, and not run from them, has helped make him a tough, hard-nosed contributor as a freshman for the Wolfpack."  I saw that fire in his short interview.  Wolfpack assistant coach, Chris Hart, added "Dunand’s maturity and toughness have helped him weather a tough introduction to college baseball."  He even hit a walk off to put the Wolfpack in contention this season.  Although not performing at the top of the heap at the College World Series, I saw something special from Dunand.  

Dunand has contributed to his team this season and there is a lot of promise for his future.  Stay confident, kid and you got this!

--Suzie Pinstripe, BYB Senior Staff Writer
BYB Hot Stove Columnist
Twitter: @suzieprof

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Sunday, July 5, 2015


Sometimes you go to Yankee stadium and it's just not a good day.  Sometimes you go to Yankee stadium and you watch our team get demolished... but it doesn't matter.  That's because some type of moment happens... a moment that you'll never forget.  For my colleague and friend, Suzie Pinstripe... it was one of those days.  Let me state right here on the pages of BYB that the "moment" we're about the share is exactly why you come to Bleeding Yankee Blue.  It's "moments" like this that make our site unique.  It's friendships... families and social interaction that put BYB on the map. More now...

Look, it went like this.  Ivan Nova was on the mound today.  Everyone coming to Yankee Stadium today expected a win.  So showing up for BP and warm up, you go, and prepare for it.  Suzie was there.  I was having a BBQ at my house. Then I got this text:

"Garrett Jones just threw me a ball!"

It was true. Jones threw a ball to Suzie, who then immediately sent me a text and immediately I sent a tweet out to Cassie and Garrett:
Here's the best part. Suzie then gave it to her niece... who probably loved it even more.  And it's those "moments" where fans are born.  Garrett Jones is doing all he can to help get a championship with the Yankees, in the role he's been handed and he does something like that.  Well... it's pretty cool. 
Now you can sit there and say, "Well, he probably does this kind of thing 20 times a season. No big deal." Wrong.  Every time he or any player does it, it's a big deal. You gotta love that stuff.  It helps to toss a ball to a fan once in a while. That's that kindness, interaction that speaks volumes.  At that point, today's Yankee loss seems less important, especially after winning the series against the Rays anyway.

When the game started, there wasn't much.  I mean, Nova went 5 innings, gave up 6 hits and 4 runs... totally enough for the Yankees to come back from and probably win. Bryan Mitchell then gave up the next 4 runs... pretty much keeping the Yankees attempt to score runs out of reach.  They were flat against Erasmo Ramirez and Co., and that happens to some of the best teams out there.  Today it happened to us.

The Yankees let 6 men on base today and were 2-7 with Runners in Scoring Position.  The only run from the Yanks came from an Alex Rodriguez solo home run.  That was it.

So the loss, yes... it was a big one, and it sucked. But something else happened today.  Garrett Jones made a fan for life, and it's the little things... those little moments of fan, player interaction that can change the complexion of a games outcome and ultimately softens the blow of a blowout... and that's a good thing, trust me.

Final: Rays 8 - Yankees 1

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Sometime between now and the end of July the Yankees have to make some decisions about the makeup of the team, and what they are going to look like, to make a push for the playoffs. A big part of those decisions is around the starting rotation. Everybody knows that CC Sabathia has been something of a question mark this season. Maybe everyone would be better served if he considered a move to the bullpen.

Now I know what you're thinking. I say the word bullpen and you hear the word demotion. Nothing could be further from the truth. In fact I think his numbers say that he would do better coming out of the bullpen instead of trying to start and go at least six innings. In his first 16 games in 2015 he ERA is north of 5 and his opponents' batting average is a hair under .300. There doesn't seem to be any pattern to indicate specific weaknesses except one: his performance early in games vs his performance in later innings.

The first time through the lineup, hitters are batting .250 against him with an OPS of .694 - pretty respectable. After that, the batting average jumps to .325 and the OPS jumps to .925. That's significant. Consider that most major league starters are expected to go through the lineup 3 times and you realize that this spells trouble. Let's look at pitch counts. If you accumulate all of his stats for the first 25 pitches of each game he's pitched this season, opponents' batting average is .234 and their OPS is .698. Again, not bad. But from pitch 26 on, again Sabathia's numbers fall off a cliff. Opponents batting average climbs to .321 - almost 80 points higher - and the OPS goes to .897 - almost 200 points higher.  Major league starters typically go a minimum of 80 - 100 pitches per game, so the problem becomes obvious.

Now consider that most relievers pitch 25 to 40 pitches per game and they rarely see a hitter twice. Also, consider that relievers don't have to worry about saving good pitches for the next time they face any particular hitter. He will always be throwing his best stuff in any given  at-bat. It opens up a lot of possibilities if Sabathia is open to the idea. All the scenarios which include trading for starters like Johnny Cueto and bringing up rookies like Luis Severino take on a new dimension.

Dennis Eckersley faced a similar challenge at the end of his career. Or rather, what he thought was the end of his career, until he reinvented himself. Same goes for John Smoltz. After the 1986 season, his 12th in the majors, Eckersley was dumped by the Cubs. You couldn't blame them - in 32 starts he only had six wins. Then Oakland picked him up and converted him into a reliever. A year later he led the American League with 45 saves and came in second in the Cy Young voting. A guy who looked like he was done turned into a premier closer and ended up pitching for 12 more seasons, with a Cy Young and an MVP in 1992. John Smoltz switched from starter to closer for four seasons. In that time, he accumulated 154 saves and came in third in the Cy Young voting in 2002.

All that to say that a switch to a reliever role is not a demotion. It's all in what you do with it, and the numbers show that CC Sabathia could do a lot with that. There are just a few mental hurdles that he, the fans, and the Yankees need to get over. First there's that $23M price tag for this year and $25M for 2016. He would be the most expensive relief pitcher in franchise history. Get over it. You paid what you paid and you got 6 years of starts out of him. For several years, he anchored the staff, and his resume includes a World Series win for us. The price tag itself won't make him a better starter, and maybe your best play is to make him a reliever and get as much value as you can in that role.

The other mental hurdle is being able to recognize that he really cares and that he is doing his best and it is just not working. You can see it in the grimace on his face when he says he can't play at that level anymore. You can see it when he barks at an umpire and gets ejected for arguing a bad call. You can see it when he's the first one charging from the dugout after a pitcher throws at Alex Rodriguez. Believe me - he cares. He wants to win badly and to be a contributing member of the team.

It is painful to watch the end of a hero's career when you can't live up to past expectations. Not everyone gets to have a farewell tour in their final season. It becomes especially aggravating when it's not the final season of your contract and you haven't declared that you're done. Besides, I'm not convinced that he is done.

CC - we love you and will root for you till the end. Just think about it.

--Ike Dimitriadis, BYB Senior Staff Writer
Twitter: @KingAgamemnon
My blog is: Shots from Murderer's Row

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I like to toot my own horn... especially when charity is involved and especially when the Yankees look good doing it.

As you know from numerous articles BYB has written, we know Alex Rodriguez messed up big time, but he also paid his punishment, being suspended for the entire 2014 baseball season.  He came back a new man and is contributing this season.  The haters have gone into hiding, and baseball appears to be back and happy again in the Bronx.

Earlier in the season, the report was that the Yankees would suggest NOT paying out Alex's milestone money when he hit his home run passing Willie Mays.  I called that despicable.  In fact, I wrote in NOT PAYING AROD FOR HIS MILESTONE LOOKS BAD FOR THE YANKEES, "...I would be simply 'outraged' that the Yankees wouldn't allow me to take my reward and give it all away to an inner city charity of even to a school in Miami to build a baseball field for under-privileged kids. I'd make it hard on the Yankees, because the Yanks shouldn't be withholding anything."

I meant it. Alex doesn't need the money, he should have it directed toward charity.  If the Yankees weren't going to pay, if I was Alex Rodriguez, I would consider that war.. and I would embarrass them at every turn insinuating that "the Yanks needed to help others with it, but they didn't want to."  Alex took the high road... higher than I would have taken.  Alex was smart. He said nothing, and instead, chatted with the Yankees and negotiated his way to get that money to work... not for him... but for others.

In the end, Alex Rodriguez and the Yankees came up with a deal that I totally applaud.  According to MLB:

"Mr. Rodriguez and the Yankees have agreed that a total of $3.5 million in charitable contributions will be made by the Club, with $1 million going to the following charities that have long enjoyed the support of one or both: the Special Operations Warrior Foundation, the Boys & Girls Club of Tampa, and Pitch In For Baseball; and $2.5 million going to the MLB Urban Youth Foundation, which will use the money to further programs and initiatives aimed at increasing youth participation in baseball, particularly in urban areas.  Commissioner Robert D. Manfred, Jr. will determine the initiatives to be supported by the $2.5 million contribution after consulting with Mr. Rodriguez, and taking into consideration the focus of Mr. Rodriguez’s past charitable contributions.

Neither party will have any further comment on the specific terms of the agreement and both look forward to focusing their energies on winning another championship for Yankees fans."

This my friends is wonderful.  I especially love the parallels between our piece which came out in April... and this press release released by MLB.  It just goes to show that great minds think alike, and BYB has it's finger on the pulse.  How do I know that?


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