Sunday, January 25, 2015

CUBAN HECTOR OLIVERA WORKED OUT & EVERYONE WAS THERE


This is a report that I found interesting. First of all, as you know the Yankees are allegedly "all in" on 19 year old Cuban, Yoan Moncada. You can read about that in THE YOAN MONCADA SWEEPSTAKES HEAT UP and in THE YANKEES "IN HARD" ON CUBAN YOAN MONCADA.

But the other Cuban player the Yankees are looking at is 29 year old Hector Olivera.  According to reports, they were in attendance for a Olivera workout. In fact, everyone was... Jesse Sanchez of MLB.com:
OK then.



DJ Short of Hardball Talk gives a nice breakdown of Olivera:

"Olivera has long been considered one of the best players in Cuba. In fact, Baseball America ranked him as the No. 6 player in Cuba last August, but he carries some questions due to his age and injury history. He missed the entire 2012-13 season due to thrombosis in his left biceps and hasn’t played in any international competition since. 


However, he batted .316/.412/.474 with seven home runs over 273 plate appearances in his return to Serie Nacional last season while amassing more walks (38) than strikeouts (25), so he can still get it done with the bat. It’s worth noting that he spent a lot of his time at DH, so he might have to prove that he can stick at second base stateside."

We'll have to see what happens next. Stay tuned...

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Saturday, January 24, 2015

THE YANKEES ROTATION SCARES ME


Yankees GM Brian Cashman spent a lot of the team’s off season making the organization younger and adding some depth to their bullpen. Depth and young talent are essential to a winning organization as we all know. The biggest concern I have, as well as many other Yankees fans, is the health and lack of major league experienced depth within the starting rotation. 

The Yankees could potentially have a very strong group in 2015. Potentially being the key word there. CC Sabathia is in the late innings of his career and coming off knee surgery in 2014, a season in which he made just eight starts. Masahiro Tanaka suffered a slight tear of the UCL in his right elbow in July, but has, thus far, avoided the dreaded Tommy John surgery. 

Michael Pineda is, well, Michael Pineda. He is an injury or pine tar incident away from missing time at any moment. Ivan Nova is likely not due back to the rotation until May or June. These are huge concerns to me. 


While improving the bullpen and making the Yankees younger, Cashman dealt two of his experienced young starters away as well as a one-time top prospect.  I’m not saying I disagree with his maneuvers, but he dealt a few valuable commodities away in David Phelps, Shane Greene and former top prospect Manny Banuelos.

David Phelps provided some quality innings for the Yankees in 2014 going 5-5 with a 4.38 ERA over 32 games, including 17 starts. In the three years he had been with the club, he started 40 games and had an overall 15-14 record with a 4.21 ERA. Shane Greene made his major league debut in 2014 for the Yankees going 5-4 in 15 games (14 starts) with a 3.78 ERA. He was very impressive for a young pitcher in his rookie year and I was excited about his potential for sure. I am disappointed about him being traded away. Hopefully it doesn't bite him and the Yankees in the rear.


After Sabathia, Tanaka, Pineda and Nova, the Yankees have Nate Eovaldi, a hard throwing, young right hander, whom they acquired from the Marlins. He has plenty of potential, but has yet to harness it as he gave up the most hits in the NL in 2014. 

I love that they obtained Eovaldi. Young, experienced and throws hard. Boom! They also re-signed veteran left hander Chris Capuano who filled in admirably for the Yankees beat up 2014 rotation posting a 4.25 ERA over 12 starts. He is a fifth starter though who has pitched just 203 innings over the last two years. Can he give the Yankees 160+ quality innings? It’s a crap shoot at best! So what else do Cash have up his sleeve? Hopefully a couple aces! I'll even take pocket 10's!


Adam Warren, who pitched very well out of the bullpen in 2014, is going to be stretched out in the spring. Warren produced a 2.97 ERA with 76 strikeouts in 78 innings. With their added depth in the bullpen he could be a candidate to start if necessary at the expense of the pen. Chase Whitley started 12 games for the Bombers in 2014, but he tailed off as the summer got long. Bryan Mitchell pitched his way to AAA Scranton in 2014 and even made three appearances for the big club. He sported a 3.67 ERA in nine games (eight starts) in Scranton and in 11.0 innings with the Yankees had a 2.45 ERA. He will likely be the first pitcher to get a shot as a fill in starter when the Yankees need one. 


Hard throwing lefty Jose De Paula, whom the Yankees signed in the off season, is an option after posting a 4.21 ERA in the hitter friendly Pacific Coast League for the Giants AAA affiliate, the Fresno Grizzlies, last summer. 
Between the injury concerns, which there are plenty, and the lack of depth at the major league level, are the Yankees really prepared for a 162 game season? I’m finding it hard to believe. On the flip side of that, how do guys earn their keeps in the big leagues? They get their shot and run with it... that's how! Any one of the youngsters could be called upon and have a breakout season. Shane Greene was that guy last year and they turned him into Didi Gregorius


With James Shields still on the market and Hal Steinbrenner’s checkbook always on him, the Yankees could make a splash at the last two free agent pitchers. They also could go after The Sporting News AL comeback player of the year for the Mariners in 2014, 36 year old righty Chris Young or another injury prone talent in Alexi Ogando. Cashman has been known to surprise us, good and bad!
If the rotation stays healthy and effective, both huge keys and concerns, the Yankees could have a strong, stable rotation in 2015. The questions within the staff are concerning however. Should Cashman make a bid at two free agent pitchers and sign them long term as they progress in their 30’s? We've seen how that goes (CC, ARod, Tex). Should he try and sign one or two older veterans and hope to find that ace up his sleeve? Or should he simply let the young men within the organization have their shot when their time arrives? I guess only Hal and Cash know at this point. Hopefully whatever decisions are made, it leads the 27 time World Champions back to the promise land. 

 
Dan Lucia
BYB Writer
Twitter: @DManLucia



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GOODBYE, MR. CUB!


If there was 1 player that every athlete and baseball fan knew and loved, it was Ernie Banks.  I was always fond of the man. Mr. Banks played his entire career with the Cubs, from 1953 to 1971 and was always smiling.  He loved the great game of baseball and it was evident even way after he retired.  Well... Mr. Banks has passed and we at BYB are sad this morning.

According to the Chicago Tribune:

"...Banks became the Cubs' first African-American player on Sept. 17, 1953, and went on to become an 11-time All-Star and two-time National League Most Valuable Player (1958-59). His boundless enthusiasm and optimism personified what it meant to be a Cubs fan.

Cubs Chairman Tom Ricketts released the following statement Friday night:

 'Words cannot express how important Ernie Banks will always be to the Chicago Cubs, the city of Chicago and Major League Baseball. He was one of the greatest players of all time. He was a pioneer in the major leagues. And more importantly, he was the warmest and most sincere person I’ve ever known.

Approachable, ever optimistic and kind-hearted, Ernie Banks is and always will be Mr. Cub. My family and I grieve the loss of such a great and good-hearted man, but we look forward to celebrating Ernie’s life in the days ahead.'"

As I state here from time to time when I am taken by an individual... "He was one of the good ones." Well, Ernie Banks was.  Courteous. Kind. Hard Working and dedicated to his craft on the field, as well as to his family.


I met Mr. Banks over a decade ago. I shook his hand and his old eyes looked back at me. His eyes were smiling.  I said, "Mr Banks, I admire you, sir."

He put his left hand over our shaking hands and squeezed it tighter...

"Thank you young man, but call me Mr. Cub."

Now I can't remember if he winked at me, but I felt like he did as I was listening to my radio this morning in bed. When I heard the news he passed, that brief meeting between he and eye came rushing back into my thoughts. Maybe it was me half dreaming, or maybe he really did wink... I don't remember.  But if anyone knows Mr. Ernie Banks... you know he probably did.

He loved the game, loved the Cubs, the fans and yes, he was one of the good ones.


My thoughts and prayers are with the Banks family today. Rest in Peace, Mr. Cub.

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Friday, January 23, 2015

MARLINS TO SIGN A 'BIG FISH'


There's irony here.  Not 4 hours after I was able to finally watch the old Tim Burton film Big Fish, the Marlins appear to have signed Ichiro Suzuki.

According toe Craig Mish, there is an agreement on terms:
According to ESPN, "Ichiro Suzuki is close to agreement on a one-year contract with the Miami Marlins, a baseball source confirmed to ESPN.com Friday...Although the two sides are still working through some final details before the deal becomes official, Suzuki is expected to earn a base salary of about $2 million in 2015."


At this point, it's just about them getting the deal done and there's no reason to think it won't get done.  Which brings me to the sadness of parting with Ichiro.  Bottom line, I understand the Yankees need to get younger, but letting a solid hitter like Ichiro go, even for a bench player, is just ridiculous.  You have to realize that the Yankees blew this big time. Ichiro was a big catch for not only the team, but for their marketing.


Think about this; they signed Alex Rodriguez to eventually become the all-time home run leader, bringing the crown back to New York. Of course, they didn't realize he would shit the bed. In the end, PEDs and bad decisons happened. The End.


But here's my point; the Yanks had a guy like Ichiro who would have probably signed. He was dependable, willing and able to play hard, most likely as a bench player and most likely would be able to get 2 years and maybe $4 million dollar deal with the Yankees. In return, the Yankees get hits and a solid contribution from Ichiro, but also market him with 3000 hits as a New York Yankee.  I don't get it their thinking on this one... and I'll never get it.  The Marlins got a big fish in Ichiro.  He will definitely be productive, no question about it.


Which brings me to Big Fish, a Tim Burton sci-fi film that's really quite good. A kid who grows up into a young adult and thinks that many of the stories his father told him in his life were B.S. As the father starts to die, the son tries to get some closure and "investigate" his father and his outlandish stories, only to realize that much of it was true, but some was fantasy. And in the end, the father was exactly what he wanted to be, the legend he made himself into throughout years of story telling.  He was that big fish.

Ichiro is too. But I tell the stories.  I remember the memories and I will continue to talk about him fondly.


Make no bones about it.  He will do good things for the Marlins... and I'm thrilled for him.

I'm an Ichiro fan. I always will be. Good luck old friend. Continue to do great things.

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EURY PEREZ CLAIMED BY THE BRAVES


Remember late last season when the Yankees claimed Eury Perez from the Nationals?  He was a young speedy outfielder and at the time, we wrote DON'T WORRY, WE GOT EURY PEREZ!


That was followed with the guy playing 4 games for the Bombers and in one of them, he made a bigger error in the outfield. It didn't matter, the season was lost anyway.  Sadly, that's the only thing I remember from the guy.  I'm sorry about that actually.

Well today, he was claimed off waivers by the Atlanta Braves.

In case you didn't know, Perez was put on waivers when the Yankees signed Stephen Drew.  Now... he's gone.

Just wanted to let ya'll know.

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