Yankees Off Season Thread

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Re: Yankees Off Season Thread

Postby T15D23 » Mon Jun 29, 2020 11:51 am

Breaking down the tiers of the Yankees’ initial summer camp roster
Lindsey Adlr

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There are few surprises on the Yankees’ initial summer training camp roster, which consists of a mix of regulars, depth players and an assortment of their top prospects. The league deadline to submit the initial roster was Sunday afternoon. The roster can hold a maximum of 60 players for the season. The Yankees announced 58 players on their summer camp roster, leaving space for two additional players once camp begins.

If a player is added to the player pool now and is later released, he can’t be re-signed by the same club under the 2020 season agreement. Teams around the league left spots open on their rosters so they can add players moving forward without pushing someone off the 60-man roster.

At the beginning of the regular season, teams will have a 30-player active roster. That will drop to 28 players two weeks later, then down to the now-standard 26-player roster two weeks after that. The players who are not on the active roster will spend the season at the Yankees’ Triple A facility near Scranton, Pa. A maximum of three players (one of which must be a catcher) will be allowed to travel with the major-league team as part of the taxi squad.



The Yankees’ initial roster includes 33 pitchers, six catchers, 10 infielders and nine outfielders.

If there was one surprise about the roster, it was that the team had signed veteran infielder Matt Duffy to a minor-league contract and included him on the roster. Luis Severino was moved to the 60-day injured list while recovering from Tommy John surgery. Domingo Germán, who has 63 games remaining on his suspension under the league domestic violence policy, remains on the restricted list.

Exceptions from the additional roster include 17-year-old prospect Jasson Dominguez and Austin Wells, the Yankees’ first-round pick from the 2020 draft.

The Yankees did not distinguish between players expected to be on the active roster and players who will be part of the satellite squad. (That should be no surprise, they’ll need to make roster decisions at the end of the three-week training camp.)

Regulars (28)

Pitchers (13)

Gerrit Cole (RHP)
Masahiro Tanaka (RHP)
J.A. Happ (LHP)
James Paxton (LHP)
Jordan Montgomery (LHP)

Jonathan Loaisiga (RHP)
Chad Green (RHP)
Jonathan Holder (RHP)
Luis Cessa (RHP)
Tommy Kahnle (RHP)
Zack Britton (LHP)
Adam Ottavino (RHP)
Aroldis Chapman (LHP)

Catchers (2)

Gary Sánchez
Kyle Higashioka

Infielders (5)

Gleyber Torres (SS)
DJ LeMahieu (2B)
Luke Voit (1B)
Gio Urshela (3B)
Mike Ford (1B)

Infielder/outfielder (2)

Miguel Andújar (3B/LF)
Tyler Wade (SS/CF)

Outfielders (6)

Aaron Judge (RF)
Aaron Hicks (CF)
Brett Gardner (LF/CF)
Mike Tauchman (LF/CF)
Giancarlo Stanton (LF)
Clint Frazier (LF/RF)

Incredible! Unproven newcomer Gerrit Cole made the roster. Everyone else here we’ve seen play for the Yankees before. The three-month delay gave Paxton, Hicks and Stanton time to recover from injuries. Judge (rib) is reportedly swinging a bat.

Playing time will be the big question for the active roster. The outfield is crowded, and it is unclear where Andújar will take most of his reps. We’ve included 28 players in this tier, which means the roster would have to be reduced by two players one month into the regular season.

There are many unknowns heading into this training camp and the start of the regular season. Teams and players are worried about injuries, and any positive test results for coronavirus will change the roster plans.

Depth (19)

Pitchers (10)

Tyler Lyons (LHP)
Dan Otero (RHP)
Ben Heller (RHP)
David Hale (RHP)
Tony Zych (RHP)
Luis Avilán (LHP)
Brooks Kriske (RHP)
Adonis Rosa (RHP)
Nick Tropeano (RHP)
Domingo Acevedo (RHP)

Catchers (4)

Erik Kratz
Chris Iannetta
Josh Thole
Max McDowell

Infielders (3)

Matt Duffy (3B)
Thairo Estrada (SS)
Kyle Holder (SS)

Infielder/outfielder (1)

Rosell Herrera

Outfielders (1)

Zack Granite (CF)

You likely know some of these players better than others. Hale, Heller, Estrada and Lyons are old friends by now. Generally, there is a lot of depth and experience in this group of pitchers.

A common belief is that teams will load up on pitchers early in the season to allow starting pitchers to build up slowly without (hopefully) overtaxing the bullpen straight out of the gate.

Holder is a defensive specialist, and Herrera “opened eyes” during spring training, manager Aaron Boone said.

Prospects (11)

Pitchers (10)

Michael King (RHP)
Clarke Schmidt (RHP)
Deivi García (RHP)
Albert Abreu (RHP)
Alexander Vizcaíno (RHP)
Luis Gil (RHP)
Nick Nelson (RHP)
Luis Medina (RHP)
Miguel Yajure (RHP)
Daniel Álvarez (RHP)

Outfielder (1)

Estevan Florial (CF)

If you don’t follow prospect news and rankings, hello, and welcome to a nice representation of the Yankees’ abundance of pitching prospects. King, Schmidt and García could have been listed in the depth section, as all three were considered “in the conversation” for a roster spot during spring training.

All but Schmidt and Vizcaíno are on the current 40-man roster. Florial, formerly a top prospect whose development has been hindered by injury, is the only outfielder on the 40-man roster who is not part of the tier of regulars.

The expectation is that there may not be a minor-league season in 2020. Hosting players on the satellite roster is a straightforward way to have them participating in workouts and potential scrimmages organized by the club.
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Re: Yankees Off Season Thread

Postby T15D23 » Mon Jun 29, 2020 11:56 am

Five teams that will benefit from the 60-game schedule
Jim Bowden

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We have never witnessed a 60-game season before. This season will be the first time in my lifetime that I can say that literally all 30 teams will have a chance to get to the postseason. They just have to get off to a fast start and anything can happen. I also believe a truncated season like this benefits teams with strong, deep bullpens and teams that have younger starting rotations that normally start to decline in effectiveness over starts 25-32. In addition, the geographic scheduling will benefit Central and Western Division teams and will make it tougher for Eastern Division teams not because of travel but because the East is loaded with so many aces including but not limited to: Max Scherzer, Stephen Strasburg, Patrick Corbin, Mike Soroka, Aaron Nola, Jacob deGrom, Gerrit Cole, Blake Snell, Charlie Morton, Tyler Glasnow … you get the point.

Here are five teams I think will benefit from the shortened schedule:

New York Yankees

The New York Yankees will benefit more than any other major-league baseball team because of the shortened spring training and regular-season schedules. The reasons are two-fold. First, the time off allowed Aaron Judge, Giancarlo Stanton, Aaron Hicks and James Paxton all to overcome injuries and they’re all on pace to be at full strength for their July 23 or 24 Opening Day. Had the season opened on time in March, all four of them would have started the year on the injured list. In addition, the Yankees’ strong and dominating bullpen, both in quality and depth, should allow them to get off to a fast start and give them an advantage, especially over the first couple of weeks of the regular season. The Yankees had three relievers with ERAs under 2.22 last year: Aroldis Chapman (2.21), Adam Ottavino (1.90) and Zack Britton (1.91). Their ‘pen also had four different relievers punch out 85 or more batters: Chapman, Chad Green, Ottavino and Tommy Kahnle. Their depth is just as impressive with Jonathan Loaisiga, Jonathan Holder, Luis Cessa and Michael King. Let alone their top pitching prospects like Clarke Schmidt, Deivi Garcia and Albert Abreu. Last year, the Yankees’ best stretch of 60 games was 42-18 and their worst was 37-23. And, this year’s team is better and healthier. The Yankees are my early pick to represent the American League in the World Series.

Oakland Athletics

Oakland will benefit from not having to face some of the league’s best teams like the Yankees, Rays, Twins, Indians and White Sox. They have a team loaded with above-average or Gold Glove-caliber defenders like third baseman Matt Chapman, first baseman Matt Olson, shortstop Marcus Semien and center fielder Ramón Laureano. They have a team that’s also loaded with power, with three players last year who hit 30 or more home runs (Olson, Semien and Chapman) and two others who hit 20 or more (Laureano and Khris Davis). The key for me will be their starting rotation. Mike Fiers anchors the staff after going 15-4 last year with a 3.90 ERA. However, it’s the three younger starters after him who will be the most important in southpaws Jesús Luzardo, my choice for AL Rookie Pitcher of the Year; Sean Manaea, who is finally healthy again and right-hander Frankie Montas, who is returning after his 80-game PED suspension last season. Luzardo has never pitched more than 109 innings in a season. I would have been concerned over a 162-game schedule that he would have either been shut down or lose effectiveness after starts 12-14. No concerns now. Same for Montas who hasn’t pitched more than 112 innings in a season. Then there is Manaea, who only pitched 29 2/3 regular-season innings last year over five starts after coming back from shoulder surgery. Although he’s pitched 140-160 innings each of the three previous seasons, I would have been worried jumping him from under 30 to that level the next year. Now all three should be sharp for their 10-12 starts in the 60-game schedule, which might be significant enough for them to overcome the Houston Astros and win the AL West. The A’s best stretch of 60 games last year was 41-19 and their worst was 29-31. However, this year their starting rotation is much stronger.

Tampa Bay Rays

The strength of the Rays is their top of rotation led by Charlie Morton, Blake Snell and the up-and-coming star Tyler Glasnow, who showed last postseason that he’s capable of developing into an ace. However, Morton is now 36 years old and with previous shoulder issues could have been a risk over a 162-game schedule. Snell, who won the Cy Young Award in 2018 after going 21-5 with a 1.89 ERA, only made 23 starts last year and pitched just 107 innings. I would have been concerned about his starts 28-32 in a 162-game schedule, but not anymore. Finally, Glasnow hasn’t pitched more than 111 innings in a season in his major-league career and had just 60 2/3 innings last year for Tampa Bay over 12 starts. I would have been worried about him in terms of effectiveness when he got to 20 starts or if the Rays would have shut him down for the benefit of keeping him healthy for future years. The Rays’ offense should be much better this year than last and their overall depth in both pitching and position players is the best by far since Erik Neander became their GM. The under-the-radar signing of Yoshi Tsutsugo and the trade that landed both José Martínez and Randy Arozarena from the Cardinals could be keys to both the Rays’ depth and lineup length. The deals with the Padres that landed outfielders Hunter Renfroe and Manuel Margot gave them more depth and versatility. Renfroe brings power and plus defense, Margot brings speed and a platoon partner for Kevin Kiermaier. And, let’s not forget their deep bullpen filled with power arms that will really be a benefactor early in the season. The Rays’ best stretch of 60 games last year was going 40-20 and their worst stretch was 30-30. They might not win the division, but I’ll be shocked if they’re not a wild-card team.

Cincinnati Reds

I am picking the Reds to win the NL Central division only because of the 60-game sprint. I was going to go with the Cardinals because I like their overall pitching and defense better than the Reds, but my concerns over St. Louis’ offense remain and with only just a month separating Opening Day and the trade deadline, I’m not sure that will give the Cardinals front office enough time to trade for an outfield bat they so desperately need. Therefore, if the Reds get off to a fast start, I can see them taking the division. I like the Reds’ starting rotation as much as any team in the division and the fact they don’t have to play the Braves, Nationals, Phillies, Mets, Dodgers or Diamondbacks. Schedule matters this year. I believe that Luis Castillo will be a Cy Young Award candidate; that Trevor Bauer will have a solid year, something he needs before free agency; and there is no reason to believe that what we saw from Sonny Gray and his 2.87 ERA over 31 games can’t be repeated. The Reds’ bullpen is also deep, led by Raisel Iglesias as their closer with Mike Lorenzen, Robert Stephenson and Amir Garrett setting him up. All four relievers punched out more than a batter an inning last season. The Reds’ offense is much improved with the addition of free-agent second baseman Mike Moustakas and outfielder Nicholas Castellanos to put with Eugenio Suárez in the middle of their lineup. In addition, their young hitters like Nick Senzel and Aristides Aquino should do well in a 60-game schedule as they continue to develop. Defense is my major concern with the Reds, but playing half their games at Great American Ball Park and their schedule against just Central Division teams should be a boost. The deciding factor for me is the implementation of the designated hitter rule in the NL, which will take one of their below-average defenders off the field and into the batter’s box each night.

San Diego Padres

The Padres could be a surprise wild-card team and become a legitimate contender this year, one year earlier than normal projections, because of the truncated season. San Diego did an excellent job in the offseason bolstering its bullpen with the signing of left-handed pitcher Drew Pomeranz to a four-year, $34 million contract and bringing back Craig Stammen on a two-year, $9 million pact. Their bullpen is anchored by arguably the league’s best closer in Kirby Yates, who put up 41 saves with an ERA of 1.19 last year. The rotation should be ready to take the next step, led by Chris Paddack and Dinelson Lamet who haven’t had their breakout seasons yet, but are primed and will be aided by only having to make 10-12 starts. Both have great stuff which should be a plus in early season games. In addition, I’m not sure if the Padres will give their top pitching prospect MacKenzie Gore a chance to make the team, but if they do watch out because he could become the difference-maker down the stretch. Zach Davies, acquired in an offseason trade with the Brewers, should bring valuable middle-of-the-rotation innings as well. The Padres’ overall outfield production both offensively and defensively should also be much improved after the offseason pick-ups of Tommy Pham and Trent Grisham. Not having to play the NL East helps their chances and at the same time, the NL East teams might have a difficult time getting two teams in the wild card because of their tough schedule, which could open the door for either the Diamondbacks or Padres. I originally thought 2021 would be the year San Diego would start contending in earnest, but I’ve moved it up a year based on this 60-game schedule, which could benefit their young starting pitchers more than people think.
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- 11/25/03 GBMA

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Re: Yankees Off Season Thread

Postby T15D23 » Tue Jun 30, 2020 11:28 am

AL East roundtable: What to expect from these teams in a shortened season
Lindsey Adlr, Josh Tolentino and more

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The 2020 MLB season is finally beginning to take shape, so we’ve gathered The Athletic beat writers from around the AL East to take a look at what baseball could be like in this portion of the league. During the regular season, the AL East will combine with the NL East to allow for a regional alignment versus the balanced schedule we’re used to seeing.

Players begin reporting to summer camp this week, and there’s less than a month to go until the irregular regular season begins. There’s still a lot to be worked out around the league, and even in the AL East.

For this roundtable, we have Dan Connolly (Baltimore), Josh Tolentino (Tampa Bay), Chad Jennings (Boston), Kaitlyn McGrath (Toronto) and Lindsey Adler (New York) discussing what baseball could look like from our slice of the sport.

What is the current plan for your teams’ training camp resumptions? How does the pandemic affect their plans?

Jennings: Well, the first spring training literally started with the Red Sox trading Mookie Betts, so, I mean, the bar is pretty high.

Connolly: The Orioles are expected to begin camp at Camden Yards. Their overflow once camp breaks likely will be in Bowie, Md., home of the Double-A Bowie Baysox, though it could be at Short-A Aberdeen. The pandemic alters their plans mainly in that they have to decide whether bubble prospects should now start the season in the majors for developmental purposes.

Adler: The Yankees were trying/expecting/hoping to hold training camp in Tampa, but the coronavirus situation led them to move it to New York, where they have one field to use. The city is also requiring outside visitors to quarantine for two weeks, but the Yankees (and Mets) get an exception here. They are most likely putting their taxi squad in Scranton, about 120 miles away, but not sure if they’ll have all 60 guys at Yankee Stadium (madness) or if they’ll run camp in two different states.

Tolentino: The Rays will have 37 players report to Tropicana Field, while the remaining 23 players from the 60-man camp roster report to the spring training facilities in Port Charlotte.

McGrath: As it stands now, things appear to be trending in the direction that the Blue Jays will be able to stage training camp — and regular-season games — in Toronto. Ontario’s premier said on Monday that health officials at the municipal, provincial and federal levels have given their approval, albeit with some minor tweaks required. The team is still awaiting an official OK from the Canadian government. Where the Blue Jays would play this season has been more complicated than the other 29 clubs because of government restrictions that exist in Canada. The Canadian-U.S. border remains closed through July 21 to non-essential travellers. In addition, the federal government requires all persons entering Canada to either self-isolate for 14 days if they are exhibiting symptoms of COVID-19 or quarantine if they are asymptomatic. Blue Jays president Mark Shapiro has been in communication with all levels of government for the past two months. Once MLB announced a season, the Blue Jays and MLB submitted a formal proposal to the Public Health Agency of Canada to play games at the Rogers Centre. The team also asked to be permitted to hold training camp in Toronto, too. According to Shapiro, their plan goes “above and beyond” the MLB protocols that will already be in place. The team’s Plan B was to be based in Dunedin, Fla., where they typically hold their spring training. However, rising COVID-19 cases in Florida — which directly impacted the team when multiple players and staff working out of their facility testing positive for the virus last week — have made Toronto the preferable choice.

Jennings: Yeah, that’s going to be impossible. Those clubhouses probably should require masks even without a pandemic. The home side is tight. The visiting side is a New York studio apartment.

It’s been a while since spring training. Let’s remind people of the big transactions your team made before this season.

Jennings: Let’s see, there was the Kevin Pillar signing. And Jonathan Lucroy on a minor league deal. And Collin McHugh showed up about a week before everything ended. Jose Peraza is the new second baseman, and Martin Perez is in the rotation now. But it does seem like there was something else. …

Oh, yeah, they traded Betts and David Price, then found out Chris Sale needed Tommy John surgery. Red Sox fans are so psyched!

Adler: The Yankees signed Gerrit Cole. He appears to be “a dude.” CC Sabathia retired, but most other things stayed the same!

Connolly: The Orioles didn’t go all Mookie-esque, because they have no Mookies, but they did trade their best all-around player, Jonathan Villar, to the Miami Marlins and their most consistently reliable starter, Dylan Bundy, to the Angels. They made some minor additions (Jose Iglesias, Wade LeBlanc, Tommy Milone). It’s a rebuild, people.

Tolentino: The 2019 MLB season was a year in which home run records were shattered across the league. However, of the 10 postseason teams in 2019, the Rays ranked near the bottom in offensive production, including last in home runs. General manager Erik Neander made it clear that upgrading the offense was the team’s No. 1 priority heading into the offseason. Their biggest move: acquiring Japanese slugger Yoshitomo Tsutsugo, who led Japan’s NPB league with 139 home runs while ranking third in RBIs (372) over the last four seasons. The Rays also added outfielder Hunter Renfroe, coming off a career-best 33 home runs in 2019, along with outfielders Manuel Margot and Randy Arozarena and first baseman/designated hitter Jose Martinez, via trade. The most notable names missing from last year’s lineup are outfielders Tommy Pham and Avisail Garcia. The Rays are hopeful that the new faces and bats will spark the offense in 2020.

McGrath: If you recall, the Blue Jays used 21 (!) different starting pitchers to get through the 2019 season. A franchise record! So, needless to say, starting pitching was a priority for the team in the winter. The prized signing was lefty Hyun-Jin Ryu, who agreed to a four-year, $80 million deal to pitch for Toronto. The Blue Jays also signed Tanner Roark and traded for Chase Anderson. Position player-wise, the team added Travis Shaw, who was coming off a pretty poor 2019 in Milwaukee, to a one-year deal for $4 million.

Jennings: Kaitlyn, the Jays are going to open with all three of those young kids in the infield, right? I assume that’s the focus of the roster right now.

McGrath: Yeah, the Blue Jays infield is headlined by the all-MLB-sons squad. Cavan Biggio at second, Bo Bichette at short and Vladimir Guerrero Jr. at third base. (If, as was the plan before the shutdown, Shaw plays first base, the Blue Jays infield would be entirely made up of sons of former major-league All-Stars). But, in general, yes, the Blue Jays are still very much a team built around the kids. Adding some veteran arms was crucial to bolster the pitching staff and ensure they had a more stable rotation than a year ago. But if the team is going to grow into a contender a couple of years from now — as management hopes — it’s going to be dependent on the development of their young stars.

Jennings: Actually, Lindsey, I’m not sure I know this off the top of my head: Are the Yankees playing Gleyber Torres at short and DJ LeMahieu at second?

Adler: Yep. Torres at short. DJ at second. Miguel Andújar worked out in left field and looked good during spring training because Gio Urshela made third base his job to lose. Dan, who is someone on the Orioles who people would, um, be familiar with? Aside from Trey Mancini, who we all hope gets well very soon!

Jennings: Dan, I was actually going to ask the same thing. I feel like every spring I have this moment seeing an Orioles lineup and playing the game: How many of these names sound remotely familiar?

Connolly: Actually, the roster itself is fairly recognizable if you paid any attention to this team last year (so at least 10 fans will know these guys). The battles were mostly on the edges of the 26-man this spring. The biggest surprise to me now is that Orioles GM Mike Elias said the Opening Day roster will come from the 44-man pool announced Sunday. And several prospects that were on the cusp didn’t make that list, including Ryan Mountcastle and Keegan Akin. Mountcastle, who was the International League MVP in 2019, is a 23-year-old hitter/slugger without a set position, but he could DH and play first base and left field. He was sent to Triple-A in March (partially for financial reasons), but I thought he could emerge onto the Opening Day roster. Looks like that won’t be the case. Same with Akin, a stocky, 25-year-old lefty who had a full season at Triple-A last year and also was sent to Norfolk in March. I still think both could be on the 2020 Orioles, but not right away. They’ll need time in the overflow camp, which would allow the Orioles to avoid using a full year of service time on either. One young player to watch from the beginning of this season: Austin Hays, who is penciled in as the starting center fielder.

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The 60-game season makes this all pretty interesting. What do you expect the goal of your team’s season to be?

Connolly: I can answer this one quickly. 2020 was always about development of prospects for the Orioles. That hasn’t changed. It’s just been limited in scope. Compete on a daily basis. But no one expects them to compete for a full season. Even if that season is 60 games, the Orioles may not have enough quality horses.

Jennings: I think the Red Sox will try to compete. They’ve obviously lost a lot of talent, and their pitching is suspect — especially their rotation — but they do have a legitimately good lineup, and a lot of their minor-league talent is probably a year away. I am curious to see how much they start to utilize young guys like Bobby Dalbec and Tanner Houck, if only to get a sense of how much they can rely on those two in 2021.

Tolentino: What better time for the outside-the-box-thinking Rays to compete than this season under very unique and condensed circumstances? The Rays are built around roster flexibility and depth, two aspects that could prove to be essential in a season that will center around health protocols and limiting exposure to COVID-19. Considering the alarming spike in cases across the country — with Florida seemingly setting a new record each day — it’s almost inevitable that most teams will have players who test positive for the virus. MLB guidelines will require any player who tests positive for COVID-19 to quarantine for at least 14 days, before needing to test negative multiple times, in order to return to the active roster. It remains to be seen how the virus and other injuries will affect the Rays specifically, but if the team is plagued by positive cases/other injuries, it is set to withstand any major blows.

Adler: The Yankees are in THE CHASE FOR 28. Here’s what my Twitter replies will look like the night before Opening Day: “GERRIT COLE SZN BABY, LET’S GO!”

McGrath: I do think the Blue Jays will probably have a mix of both, competing — the young guys are very competitive — while also trying to find playing time for some of their prospects. They’re still a rebuilding squad and development and reps for young players is still crucial. One name that sticks out is Nate Pearson. He is their hard-throwing top prospect. He was electrifying in spring training, but it was expected he would start the year in Triple-A, before getting called up. With likely no minors this year, I would think it’s imperative the Blue Jays find competitive innings lest his development stall. The short season allows for a lot of randomnesses, but the Orioles and Blue Jays will be in tough to compete in this hybrid AL/NL East schedule, with their games against seven other teams who had a .500 record or better last year.

Tolentino: The Rays could roll out an eight-man starting rotation and nearly every position player on the 60-man camp roster — and beyond — is capable of playing multiple positions. Because the team has historically been limited by budget constraints, the forward-thinking front office led by Neander has been forced to adapt in order to keep up with his peers. And in a crazy season like the one looming, with its July 23 or 24 start date, the innovative Rays could be in for a wild ride.

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How do you think the AL/NL East combined division — do we just call this MLB East? — will affect your team based on travel and competition?

Adler: The Yankees will play the Mets six times this year, which I know no one outside of New York cares about, but the Mets should be good, and that will actually be pretty fun. But The Athletic’s Jayson Stark noted that the Yankees “might only make three trips all year to parks more than 240 miles away.”

Connolly: I do expect hoarding of middle relief types on the 60-man because teams are going to need innings, since no one will be fully stretched out. I think we will see a lot of tandem starts like this is the Carolina League. The travel is great for the Orioles. The competition is disastrous. They lost 108 games last year, and their winning percentage was even worse against the AL East. Throw in the Braves, Nats, Phillies and Mets and, oof, doesn’t look promising. Only the Marlins (and maybe the Jays, but I don’t think so) are in the Orioles’ league, if ya will.

Jennings: The East is tough, right? Adding the National League throws four pretty good rosters into the mix. The Orioles and Marlins are really the only pushovers. Pretty interesting teams, too. (The Phillies and Braves have a lot of high-profile talent, and the Nats obviously have some elite pitching, and the Mets are a soap opera).

Adler: The NL East is great. I guess the AL East teams will suffer from not seeing the AL Central at all during the regular season and instead facing four competitive teams.

McGrath: I like the sound of MLB East. As for travel, TBD for the Jays. If they’re in Dunedin, they’re just down from Tampa, and Miami is a short trip. If they’re in Toronto, their travel isn’t too bad, with the caveat that crossing the border could potentially be a more complicated process during this time. But as Dan points out, the competition is tough for the Blue Jays, with the exemption that they can probably still rack up wins against the Orioles and Marlins.

Tolentino: The Rays’ farthest trips will be to New York, Boston and Toronto. The biggest advantage here for all the East teams is they remain under one time zone. They won’t need to adjust their body clocks or sleep schedules like they would in a normal season when traveling through different time zones on road trips. As far as competition, the Rays’ toughest matchup will continue to be those Bronx Bombers. Tampa Bay went 7-12 against New York last season, and the Rays were outscored by the Yankees, 96-58, in those 19 games.

Jennings: One thing that strikes me from the Red Sox perspective: A lot of these teams in the East are built on pitching, which makes for an interesting matchup considering how heavily the Red Sox are tilted toward offense.

Connolly: And that’s the thing with the Orioles. The loss of Mancini’s bat (and Villar’s) hurts a lot, but their offense is OK. There is some talent there (Hanser Alberto, Anthony Santander, Renato Núñez, Austin Hays, maybe Mountcastle). But the pitching is super sketchy on paper, and if the young offense can’t produce against top-notch pitching, it’s gonna be a loooong season in Balmer, even at 60 games.

McGrath: The Blue Jays are such an interesting team. I personally find it hard to predict how they’ll perform, especially from an offensive standpoint. The majority of the team is still so young that there’s an expectation that over the offseason, there would have been some internal improvements. That said, young players present unpredictability since development isn’t always linear. With only 60 games, it’s not a lot of time for a player — of any age! — to work out of a slump. I do think 60 games will be an interesting development challenge for them.

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There are some weird new rules in this proposal, including the runner on second base to start extra innings and pitchers carrying a “wet rag” because they can’t lick their hands. Which part of bizarro baseball are you most interested in or excited to see?

Adler: Personally, I hope the social distancing attempt leads to players sitting in the stands. Dudes just sitting out there in surgical masks, basically looking like scouts.

Jennings: I’m hopeful — but not optimistic — that National League fans will see the designated hitter up close, stand in opposition, and wipe away any plans for a universal DH in the near future.

Connolly: I want to see a perfect game ruined by the extra-innings rule. I’m a jerk that way.

Tolentino: During a Zoom call a few days ago with pitcher Tyler Glasnow, he candidly admitted he’ll probably still lick his fingers when he’s on the mound and simply offered an advanced “my bad” apology.

McGrath: I think I’m into some chaotic standings that are created from a 60-game season.

Jennings: I don’t mind the extra-innings rule under these circumstances — I see some logic in trying to make sure these games end quickly — but I do think it’s kind of goofy and solves the wrong problem (a problem that isn’t really a problem).

Adler: Kaitlyn, I agree. I was hoping that if they expanded the postseason it would let some wacky teams through.

Tolentino: With all the guidelines in place, I’m most looking forward to the first time a “rule” is violated and how officials react. I just can’t imagine an umpire disciplining a player for doing something he wouldn’t even think twice about in a normal season. I’m also curious as to how MLB teams, specifically the Rays, react to playing in front of no fans. The Rays are used to playing in front of small crowds. They’ve ranked either last or second to last in attendance every year since 2011. Depending on local governments and health protocols, fans could eventually be allowed inside stadiums later in the season, but no spectators will be inside the building on Opening Day. Advantage Rays?

In a season where it seems like literally anything could happen … let’s get some win-loss predictions going here.

McGrath: I predict the Blue Jays will land at about a 26-34 record. Before the pandemic, I thought the Blue Jays could be at or very close to a .500 team this year in a normal 162-game season. But they’ll be in tough in this MLB East scenario, so I think falling a few games below .500 seems more likely.

Adler: I’m going with 37 wins for the Yankees, which comes out to the equivalent of a 100-win season.

Jennings: I really think the Red Sox could win 35 or win 25. I like the offense enough to believe they’re a winning team, but in a season this short, I just don’t know. I’ll predict one game over .500 — basically an 84-win normal season — which is kind of a cop-out and kind of an acknowledgement that I just don’t know what to expect.

Connolly: Make the Orioles 19-41 here. That’s just a tick under their 54-108 record last year. I think there is a distinct possibility they do worse given the schedule difficulty, but I do believe there will be some personal growth with individual hitters. So I think this could be a wash. But 20-40 is boring.

Jennings: I honestly hope the Orioles get off to a fast start, and next thing you know, we’re a quarter of the way into the season, and the O’s are legitimately in it. I have no reason to believe that could last, but I think it would be fun (and entirely possible). I mean, it’s two good weeks, right? Why not?

Tolentino: The Yankees aren’t going away anytime soon, which means the Rays finish second in the AL East again with 34 wins.
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Re: Yankees Off Season Thread

Postby T15D23 » Tue Jun 30, 2020 11:30 am

Hotfoot, hot tempers: Inside baseball’s love affair with a fiery prank
Jayson Jenks

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Disclaimer: Please do not try any of this at home. Really.

It was a summer night in 1969, and Billy Martin and some of his Minnesota Twins players gathered at a bar in Detroit. One of the players there was Dave Boswell, a 20-game winner that season who claimed he was good at two things: pitching and fighting.

He was not in the mood to pitch.

Earlier that day, Boswell was supposed to have run 20 laps for conditioning, but he walked off the field after only two, complaining of a sore, blistered foot. When Martin learned of the incident from his pitching coach, he confronted his young pitcher, which pissed Boswell off. Both Boswell and Martin had a history of baseball-related fights; in fact, just a few years earlier, Boswell had challenged Martin to a fight, but Martin walked away, he said, because “a coach can’t hit a player.”

Apparently, it was more suggestion than rule.

As Boswell left the bar, he passed Martin and opened his mouth a “little loud,” but only because his manager was “making a big thing out of nothing.”

What followed cannot be made up: An enraged Boswell knocked out a teammate who had tried to calm him down outside the bar. An also-enraged Martin then knocked out Boswell. There were chipped teeth, black eyes, bruised ribs, more than 30 stitches and a whole lot of public dysfunction for a first-place team that had just beaten the Tigers a few hours earlier.

And it all happened because of a mostly forgotten prank known as the hotfoot.

At its core, a hotfoot is the act of burning a shoe while it is on someone else’s foot. Under that broad umbrella, however, exist various subcultures.

For example, Pete Incaviglia, a former outfielder with the Rangers and Phillies, carried around a squeezable mustard bottle filled with alcohol. He would walk by a teammate, squirt alcohol on his shoe and toss a match. Bert Blyleven, a baseball and hot-foot hall of famer, liked to light shoelaces on fire. Later in his career he preferred butane lighters for “better distance and accuracy.” Roger McDowell, the former Met who was called the “master of the hotfoot” and “Mr. Hotfoot himself,” developed a complex contraption that included matches, a cigarette and either chewed bubble gum or extra-strong gaffers tape to hold it all together on the heel of a shoe.

By most old accounts, the hotfoot was popularized by Pete Reilly, a boxing manager in the ’20s and ’30s who denied he’d invented the prank but claimed to have been the first — and perhaps only — person to hotfoot a fighter in his corner between rounds.

Jack Dempsey, the former heavyweight champion, claimed in 1941 to have given more hotfoots than any man alive. As a newspaper reporter wrote, “It is impossible for him to attend a public function without getting down on all fours — even when he’s in full dress — and crawl beneath tables to give hotfoot after hotfoot.”

All the great hotfoot artists shared that trait, a willingness to set aside societal norms and crawl on the ground like large children to strike their targets.

One year, Blyleven was playing a game in Seattle. His old teammate, Phil Roof, was the Mariners’ bullpen coach, and, rather unwisely, Roof had told Blyleven that he could not be gotten. So Blyleven did a little research on the Kingdome. He learned that from the dugout he could travel underneath the seats, then inch forward on the ground to reach Roof in the bullpen.

“I went and got a hanger and extended it as far as I could, put some matches on the end of it, and I’m crawling on my hands and knees with the rats, I’m getting filthy,” Blyleven said. “I had to make sure they were his shoes and not some reliever’s. The phone rang and I could hear Phil’s voice and I said: ‘I got him.’

“It took me a couple innings. I hit my head numerous times, but it was worth it. I came out of there with our gray uniform almost black, but I accomplished my goal for the day.”

When Howard Johnson was with the Mets, he and McDowell would team up to get first-base coach Bill Robinson, their favorite target. What took the pair’s hotfoots to the next level was the time-bomb element of their homemade contraptions. McDowell laid out how and Johnson made the devices:

    • Take an unlit cigarette, a box of matches and gaffers tape
    • Wrap the matches around the cigarette with the gaffers tape (gum can be substituted, although it must first be chewed thoroughly to create maximum stickiness)
    • Light the cigarette and let it burn a little so it is not so long it touches the ground when put in place.
    • Place the cigarette and matches on the heel of a teammate or coach’s shoe. It must be placed firmly enough that the tape sticks but not so firmly that the teammate or coach will feel it. “It’s a very precise thing,” McDowell said.
    • Once placed, sit back and wait for the cigarette to light the matches, igniting a “little ball of fire.”

“It’s very scientific,” McDowell said.

If everything worked out just right — if it all came together perfectly — McDowell would place the device on Robinson’s shoe while Robinson was in the dugout, the cigarette would burn long enough so Robinson had time to take the field and, boom, the matches would ignite. This happened once, in Philly, leaving Robinson “dancing around trying to put it out during the game.” McDowell and Johnson were so prolific that they actually filmed a how-to video for the Mets.

There was no video of the time Clint Hurdle hotfooted the late, great reliever Dan Quisenberry, his Royals teammate. On the night in question, Quisenberry had broken a team record, and a crowd of reporters circled him in the clubhouse after the game. Hurdle had previously tried to get Quisenberry to let fly a few cuss words, but he hadn’t had any success. So in the clubhouse, while Quiz was being interviewed, Hurdle gave it another shot.

“I crawled across the floor, through the thicket of ankles, and gave him a hotfoot — three matches held together by a piece of bubble gum,” Hurdle wrote in the Orlando Sentinel in 1980. “It burned him. I mean, burned him physically. Actually scorched his socks. He came out of there screaming, ‘YEOOOOOOOOWWW!!!'”

Hurdle was hoping to get at least “one little damn” out of his teammate, he wrote. “But not Quiz.”

There was always an inherent risk with the hotfoot. Blyleven once burned a dime-sized hole in Chuck Finley’s shoe. Joe Magrane gave one of his Cardinal teammates a hotfoot and the blaze spread to the dugout. Another time, he accidentally set a rubber mat on fire in the dugout that he said, “wasn’t a big deal, only a two-alarmer.” Moe Drabowsky was so indiscriminate with his hotfoots that one time he set a writer’s pants on fire. Another time, after the Orioles won the World Series, he got baseball commissioner Bowie Kuhn in the clubhouse.

“I snuck up and put a book of matches underneath his shoes,” Drawbowsky told the Vancouver Sun. “Then I got some lighter fluid and made a trail of it from his shoes to the trainer’s room. Then I lit it. All 20 matches ignited. Bowie looked like a battleship going down in the Pacific.”

The hotfoot even made its way to politics: Democratic chairman Paul Butler reportedly hotfooted congressional Democrats while in session.

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Dave Boswell (right) and Twins President Calvin Griffith meet to discuss Boswell’s fight with Billy Martin. (Getty Images)

But no hotfoot had as much fallout as the hotfoot Billy Martin gave Dave Boswell.

That was what Boswell said anyway in an interview years later with the New York Daily News: that Martin had given him a hotfoot in the clubhouse, which gave him a blister on his foot, which made him unable to do his conditioning.

When Boswell left the bar in Detroit, his teammate, Bob Allison, followed him, hoping to calm him down. Instead, Boswell punched him so hard he “knocked his $150 alligator shoes off.”

Martin laid out of the sequence of events in great detail a few days later: “Some people came in and told me what was going on outside, and when I got there, Boswell ripped off his shirt, came after me and hit me in the temple and the ribs. I held on for a minute and then started to hit him in the stomach. I worked up and hit him in the mouth, nose and eye. He bounced off the wall, and I hit him again, and he was out cold before he hit the ground.”

“He’s a devastating fighter,” Boswell conceded.

Perhaps it is best that the hotfoot has mostly faded away, though it is not forgotten entirely; on the day Blyleven was inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame, Tigers pitcher Justin Verlander performed a fitting tribute.

He snuck up to teammate Don Kelly in the dugout and gave him a nice, fiery hotfoot.
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Re: Yankees Off Season Thread

Postby T15D23 » Tue Jun 30, 2020 11:33 am

Jim Leyritz’s World Series-saving home run helped start Yankees dynasty
Greg Joyce

Earlier in the night, Jim Leyritz was just feeling thankful that at least the Yankees wouldn’t be swept by the Braves in the 1996 World Series. They were down 2-1 in the series and seemingly on their way to a 3-1 hole after Game 4 quickly went off the rails.

In the eighth inning, though, the catcher served as a human defibrillator and brought the Bombers back to life.

Leyritz came to the plate against flamethrower Mark Wohlers and delivered a game-tying three-run home run to spark the Yankees to a win in 10 innings. Two games later, they were World Series champions.

“When I was running the bases, all I could think was we have to win,” Leyritz later told Yankees Magazine. “I was standing right next to the steps when Wade Boggs drew his walk in the 10th inning. We were just pounding the stairs. When we walked into the locker room, before the media came in and it was just us, you could tell that everything had changed. We knew we were going to win.”

The Yankees had fallen behind 5-0 after three innings in Game 4 — leading to Leyritz nodding in agreement when Pat Kelly said in the dugout, “Well, thankfully we won yesterday, so we won’t get swept,” The Post’s Joel Sherman reported in his book, “Birth of a Dynasty, Behind the Pinstripes with the 1996 Yankees.”

They had chipped away to make it a 6-3 deficit by the time Leyritz walked to the plate with one out and runners on the corners in the eighth inning. He was using one of Darryl Strawberry’s extra bats, since he only had two of his own left and didn’t want to risk breaking one against Wohlers’ fastball that could reach triple digits.

Leyritz fouled off three pitches and worked a 2-2 count before getting a hanging 86 mph slider. He sent it just over the wall in left field to quiet Fulton County Stadium and tie the game 6-6.

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Jim Leyritz watching his game-tying home run in Game 4 of the 1996 World Series.AP


“I was on the step waiting to go to the on-deck circle and I looked at [bench coach] Don Zimmer, and asked, ‘Zim, what’s this guy got?'” Leyritz told Yankees Magazine. “He said, ‘Jimmy, this guy throws 100 mph. Just get ready.’ I didn’t even know what Mark Wohlers threw. I guessed fastball/slider because that’s what Mariano [Rivera] had. I didn’t know he had a split-fingered pitch and that it was his second-best pitch. Had I known that, I don’t know if I would have hit the slider out. He threw me a first-pitch fastball and then two sliders. Now I had a look at what he had, so I was a little bit better prepared. But again, I didn’t know he had a split.

“I always say sometimes it’s better to be ignorant than smart. But he ended up throwing a hanging slider, I hit the home run, and it was a pretty special moment.”

Two innings later, Boggs walked with the bases loaded and Charlie Hayes drove in another run when he reached on an error, giving the Yankees an 8-6 lead. John Wetteland shut down the Braves in the bottom of the inning to tie the series at two games apiece.

Leyritz had turned in more playoff heroics the year before. In Game 2 of the 1995 ALDS against the Mariners, Leyritz hit a walkoff two-run home run in the 15th inning to lift the Yankees to a 7-5 win. It gave the Yankees a 2-0 series lead, but they dropped the next three games to bow out of the postseason.

They didn’t let Leyritz’s clutch homer go to waste in 1996, though, riding it to the first of four World Series championships in five years.
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Re: Yankees Off Season Thread

Postby T15D23 » Tue Jun 30, 2020 11:35 am

5 hitters Yankees could chase at trade deadline | Pirates masher Josh Bell may be available
Randy Miller

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Possible options for Yankees GM Brian Cashman (top right) to acquire prior to the Aug. 31 trade deadline include Chicago White Sox catcher James McCann (top left), Pittsburgh Pirates first baseman Josh Bell (bottom left) and San Francisco Giants shortstop Brandon Crawford (bottom right).AP

COVID-19 permitting, there will be a Major League Baseball season this year, and if there is a season, the Yankees will be a team to beat … maybe THE team to beat.

If that all plays out without a major hitch, then the Yankees probably will go looking for final pieces to a championship puzzle around the halfway mark of the 60-game schedule. Prior to the pandemic stoppage, the trade deadline was pushed back from July 31 to Aug. 31, and it’s staying Aug. 31.

What the Yankees shop for probably will depend on who’s hurt in late August and how serious the injuries are. While looking to upgrade in those potential spots, GM Brian Cashman likely will be pursuing pitching aggressively … starters and relievers.

Here’s the first of a three-part series on an early look at possible trade-deadline options for the Yankees. Today, we look at position players:

JOSH BELL, 1B, Pittsburgh Pirates

Contract: Will make $1.78 million in 2020 (prorated from $4.8M). Arbitration eligible after 2020 and 2021 seasons. Free agent after 2022 season.

Age: 27 (28 on Aug. 14, 2020).

Bats: Both.

2019 stats: Pirates, .277 average, 527 AB, 94 runs, 146 hits, 37 HR, 116 RBI, .936 OPS, 143 games.

Resume: 2019 NL All-Star. … Finished in top 10 in NL last season in doubles, triples, homers and RBI. … Set an NL record last year with 60 extra-base hits prior to the All-Star break. … His 26 homers in 2017 are an NL rookie record.

The skinny: If Luke Voit is slumping or injured by late August, the Yankees could hunt for an upgrade at first base, and Bell could be a great addition to a righty-heavy lineup as a slugging switch-hitter. Bell might be available because he’s already pricing himself out of Pittsburgh, which has a penny-pinching owner in Bob Nutting, and the Pirates figure to be a bad team again. The Pirates would demand a big return for Bell, and while it have to come from the Yankees’ 60-man player pool, they have kids there to make a good offer. Bell and a veteran reliever such as Keone Kela, who will be a free agent next winter, for touted pitching prospect Deivi Garcia, slow-developing five-tool center field prospect Estevan Florial and first baseman/DH Mike Ford might entice the Pirates.

* * *

BRANDON CRAWFORD, SS, San Francisco Giants

Contract: Will make $5.56 million in 2020 (prorated from $15M) in 5th season of 6-year, $75M contract that includes $15M salary for 2021. Free agent after 2021 season.

Age: 33 (34 on Jan. 21, 2021).

Bats: Left.

2019 stats: Giants, .228 average, 500 AB, 58 runs, 114 hits, 11 HR, 59 RBI, .654 OPS, 147 games.

Resume: Won Gold Glove from 2015-16 and Silver Slugger in in 2015. … NL All-Star in 2015 and 2018. … Became first shortstop to hit a postseason grand slam in 2014. … Has 17 RBI in 36 career postseason games.

The skinny: Gerrit Cole is married to Crawford’s sister, so he’d love the Yankees adding an in-law to the roster. Why would the Yanks have any interest in Crawford, who is coming off a down season and will make big money next year? They probably wouldn’t unless Crawford has a bounce-back season for a rebuilding Giants team that falls out of contention early AND Gleyber Torres is as inconsistent at shortstop as he was last season and during spring training AND the Yankees fear they might not be able to re-sign second baseman DJ LeMahieu, who will be a free agent after the 2020 season.

* * *

JAMES McCANN, C, Chicago White Sox

Contract: Will make $2 million in 2020 (prorated from $5.4M). Free agent after 2020 season.

Age: 30 (31 on June 13, 2021).

Bats: Right.

2019 stats: White Sox, .273 average, 439 AB, 62 runs, 120 hits, 18 HR, 60 RBI, .789 OPS, 118 games.

Resume: AL All-Star in 2019. … Threw out 36.5 percent of base stealers in 2018 to rank fourth in AL. … Became sixth catcher in history to catch 100 games without making an error in 2015, his rookie season, joining Charles Johnson (1997), Chris Iannetta (2008), Mike Matheny (2003), Buddy Rosar (1946) and Chris Snyder (2008). … Career .318 hitter in 11 games at Yankee Stadium (14-for-44, 1 HR).

The skinny: We all know Gary Sanchez is injury prone – he’s averaged just 106 games since 2016 due to five IL stints – and if it happens again, the Yankees probably won’t want to risk going into the playoffs with Kyle Higashioka as their No. 1 catcher. Thus, they could make a play for McCann, a solid backstop with power who will be moving on after the 2020 season because the White Sox signed free agent catcher Yasmani Grandal last November to a four-year, $73M deal.

* * *

AUSTIN ROMINE, C, Detroit Tigers

Contract: Will make $1.54 million in 2020 (prorated from $4.15M. Free agent after 2020 season.

Age: 31 (32 on Nov. 22, 2020).

2019 stats: Yankees, .281 average, 228 AB, 29 runs, 64 hits, 8 HR, 35 RBI, .768 OPS.

Resume: Made 276 starts at catcher for Yankees from 2011-19, 130 of them coming the last two seasons. … Established career bests for average and hits in 2019 after setting new highs for homers and RBI in 2018. … Threw out 30 percent of baserunners in 2019, a tad above the MLB average (27%).

The skinny: If the Yankees want a slightly cheaper catching option than McCann, they could look to reunite with Romine, their long-time valuable backup who settled for a one-year contract last winter with the Tigers when he was a free agent. Romine probably will get an opportunity to be a full-time starter this season, but he could be moved by Aug. 31 because the Tigers, who are coming off a 114-loss season, likely will be awful again.

CARLOS SANTANA, 1B/DH, Cleveland Indians

Contract: Will make $6.48 million in 2020 (prorated from $17.5M) in final season of 3-year, $60M contract that includes a $17.5M club option or $500,000 buyout for 2021. Free agent after 2020 season unless option picked up (highly unlikely).

Age: 34 (35 on April 8, 2021).

Bats: Both.

2019 stats: Indians, .281 average, 573 AB, 110 runs, 161 hits, 34 HR, 93 RBI, .911 OPS, 158 games.

Resume: AL All-Star in 2019. … Indians’ career homer (208) and RBI leader (834) for a switch-hitter. … Made 135 starts at 1st base and 23 at DH in 2019. … Ranks fourth among active players in walks behind Albert Pujols, Joey Votto and Miguel Cabrera.

The skinny: Another potential first baseman option for the Yankees is another slugging switch-hitter, and while Santana has put up good numbers longer than Bell, he’d come at a cheaper price because he’s in his walk year. The Yankees would welcome Santana’s left-handed bat against righties as well as his ability to work pitchers very well. One big contingency to Santana being a possibility for anyone is the Indians take a step back this year, and that seems possible after they traded two-time Cy Young winner Corey Kluber to the Rangers pro prospects in the winter last December.
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Re: Yankees Off Season Thread

Postby T15D23 » Tue Jun 30, 2020 11:41 am

Why Cole's fastball is in a league of its own
David Adler

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Gerrit Cole only tweeted video of a single pitch. But it's the pitch -- the pitch that defines his transformation into a $300 million ace.

One elevated four-seamer, thrown under the backdrop of Yankee Stadium, was the perfect preview of what Yankees fans will get to watch when Cole eventually takes the mound.



You just don't see a fastball like this every day. Cole's four-seamer is one of baseball's nastiest pitches. It was the foundation of his 326-strikeout season, MLB's most overpowering season since Randy Johnson in 2002. Cole struck out 178 batters on his four-seamer alone; he got 344 swings-and-misses with it. Those are the highest totals by any pitcher in any season of the pitch-tracking era, which goes back to 2008.

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Think about all the big fastballs the Yankees had even before Cole came to New York. Cole's is the best of them all. Here's why.

He dials it up better than James Paxton

Velocity is king. Everyone's eyes jump to the radar gun, and nothing brings a crowd alive like a pitcher who dials up the heat for a big strikeout in a big spot.

The Yankees got one of those pitchers when they traded for James Paxton, who's not only one of the hardest-throwing lefty starters in general, but a pitcher whose velocity gets higher and higher as a game goes on -- until he's throwing 99 mph to close out a no-hitter. But Cole does the same thing, and he does it better. Even Paxton doesn't let it eat like Cole.



Cole's 97.1 mph fastball velocity is top-five among starting pitchers to begin with -- and he raises it to 97.6 mph in the seventh inning or later, and to 98.1 mph with two strikes. The average velocity of Cole's 178 four-seamer strikeouts last season? 98.3 mph -- No. 1 among starters.

Highest 4-seam velocity on strikeouts, SP, 2019
1) Gerrit Cole: 98.3 mph (178 K)
2) Noah Syndergaard: 98.2 mph (40 K)
3) Nathan Eovaldi: 97.8 mph (29 K)
4) Tyler Glasnow: 97.6 mph (31 K)
5) Jacob deGrom: 97.4 mph (80 K)

And there's the max velo: Cole was the only starting pitcher to hit 101 mph last season, and that pitch was a strikeout. He reached triple digits 18 times; no other starter did it more than five (Paxton did once). He had each of the top-five fastest strikeout pitches by a starting pitcher, all in excess of 100 mph.

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He lets it ride better than Luis Severino

But Cole's fastball explosiveness is more than velocity. To show why, let's compare him to the Yankees' other flamethrowing right-handed starter: Luis Severino, who'd be the team's second ace if he were at full strength and who, when healthy, has the raw velo to equal Cole's.

Severino also sits in the high 90s. He can also reach triple digits. But his fastball isn't the same swing-and-miss pitch as Cole's. Why?

The key is Cole's spin. Cole throws a true "rising fastball," the prototypical strikeout pitch. His spin rate and pure backspin are just as extreme as his velocity, and the combination takes him to a different level.



Here's a look at Cole's four-seamer in 2019 vs. Severino's in 2018 (his last full season):

Velocity: Cole -- 97.1 mph | Severino -- 97.6 mph
Spin rate: Cole -- 2,530 rpm | Severino -- 2,365 rpm
Active spin: Cole -- 97.1% | Severino -- 79.8%
Rise: Cole -- +2.8 inches above avg. | Severino -- +1.1 inches above avg.
Whiff rate: Cole -- 37.6% | Severino -- 20.2%

Severino's fastball was half a tick faster than Cole's on average, but his spin was much lower -- Cole's is top-five among regular starters, while Severino's is more toward average. And check out the "active spin," which is just the amount of spin that contributes to a pitch's movement (for a four-seamer, the truer the backspin, the more active spin you'll get). Nearly all of Cole's four-seam spin adds to its rising fastball effect, making it the most devastating swing-and-miss fastball thrown by any starting pitcher.

When hitters swung at Cole's fastball in 2019, they whiffed nearly twice as often as when they swung at Severino's fastball in 2018. Cole's and Severino's four-seamers, even with the same elite velocity, were in different leagues.

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He blows hitters away better than Aroldis Chapman

This is the big one. Aroldis Chapman has one of the defining fastballs in MLB history. He's thrown 105 mph. But right now, Cole's fastball is better even than Chapman's.

At his peak with the Reds, when he was averaging over 100 mph for entire seasons and striking out over 100 batters a year, Chapman's fastball was more dominant than Cole's. But over his last season or two with the Yankees, Chapman's lost a little of his consistent velocity. As his average dipped to 98.0 mph in 2019, and Cole's rose, Cole overtook Chapman.

Make no mistake, these are both elite fastballs. But Chapman's four-seam whiff rate and putaway rate -- that's just how often he throws a fastball with two strikes and gets the K -- have both dipped under 25% entering 2020, when once upon a time he got over 40% whiffs and put over 30% of hitters away.

Cole's whiff rate and putaway rate have jumped up to 37.6% and 32.8%, respectively. As he joins the Yankees, his fastball outperforms Chapman's at getting both the swing and miss and the strikeout.

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Cole uses his high-velocity, high-spin four-seamer to relentlessly attack the top of the zone, where that velocity and spin is most effective. He elevated 58.2% of his fastballs last season, while Chapman, whose command can be spotty, only elevated 40.8% of his, when he threw high fastballs over half the time the previous two years.

Cole gets the most out of his stuff. Chapman can't always say the same. Though Chapman can, on individual pitches, reach back for more velocity than Cole is capable of, Cole's fastball on the whole has become a superior pitch.
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Re: Yankees Off Season Thread

Postby T15D23 » Tue Jun 30, 2020 8:14 pm

Yankees in prime position to take advantage of delayed MLB start: Sherman
Joel Sherman

Never in major league history have teams been more challenged to keep players healthy.

There will be the familiar strains and sprains, exacerbated by the unique environment of a spring training 2.0 condensed to three weeks. In a normal year, injuries, specifically soft-tissue injuries (think hamstrings, obliques) are highest in the first month of a season. A 2017 research article from the American Journal of Sports Medicine found the highest frequency of elbow injuries for pitchers is in March, so mainly during the standard training season.

But in 2020 there is nothing normal, nothing standard. Add in: How many players have been overtraining anticipating various restart dates? How many have been trying to set a record for food delivery apps they could use from their couch figuring there would never be a season?

And, of course, there is the coronavirus that has moved MLB to create a distinct COVID-19 Related Injured List, which many teams anticipate using from the outset of camp to isolate those who test positive or might have been in contact with someone who has.

If there is a season — huge “if,” still — whoever can keep the most players healthy for 60 games in 66 days (again nothing normal/standard this year) will gain an edge. A 15-game injury goes from a player missing less than 10 percent of a 162-game schedule to missing 25 percent this year.

So just showing up to camp with more viable candidates is beneficial. The larger the pool for teams to pick from the better. And no club had more key players regain health during the shutdown than the Yankees, in part because no club was going to begin the year with as many big names on the injured list.

Brian Cashman expressed optimism Tuesday about having Aaron Hicks (Tommy John surgery), Aaron Judge (fractured rib) and Giancarlo Stanton (calf) on the Opening Day roster, the same for James Paxton (back surgery). That represents one-third of a lineup and the No. 2 starter behind Gerrit Cole, which is even more vital with Luis Severino (Tommy John) out for the year.

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Proviso alert: Judge, Stanton and Paxton have long injury histories and the susceptible will probably be even more vulnerable under these conditions. But the Yankees will begin this spring training healthier than they ended the last.

The Mets, meanwhile, are a one-step forward, one-back outfit. Yoenis Cespedes (heels, ankles) should be ready and it is going to be intriguing how much he has left after so much lost time. But after the shutdown the Mets learned they had lost Noah Syndergaard to Tommy John surgery. Similarly, the Red Sox should have outfielder Alex Verdugo (back), a key return from the Dodgers for Mookie Betts, but lost Chris Sale to Tommy John surgery.

The Tigers’ Michael Fulmer, the main return from the Mets when they obtained Cespedes in 2015, also is now ready to start spring training as a full-go after missing last year following Tommy John surgery. As a player not owed much money (roughly $1 million for a 60-game season) and not eligible for free agency until after the 2022 campaign, the righty becomes one of the more likely trade candidates (deadline Aug. 31) with Detroit rebuilding.

Which other teams benefited from getting healthier during the shutdown:

1. Angels: Shohei Ohtani, who did not pitch last season following Tommy John surgery, would not have begun on time in 2020 and would have been limited in innings. Now, he is on time, and even if he makes 12 starts, it is unlikely he would get beyond 75 regular-season innings. The Angels’ playoff chances rest on a healthy rotation, so having Ohtani and Griffin Canning (elbow) from the outset is significant.

2. Cardinals: If the season began on time, St. Louis would have been without starter Miles Mikolas (elbow) and relievers Andrew Miller (finger numbness) and Jordan Hicks (Tommy John). Mikolas and Miller are healthy. If Hicks can return in, say, August he might be able to provide his triple-digit fastball for more than half of this season.

3. White Sox: This is one of the wildest wild cards in the 60-game sprint. Chicago has captivating young possibilities (Eloy Jimenez, Nick Madrigal, Luis Robert), which it augmented with free agents such as Edwin Encarnacion, Yasmani Grandal and Dallas Keuchel. Michael Kopech (Tommy John) is a potential pivot player. He should be a full-go now, and if the fireballer joins Lucas Giolito and Keuchel to form a strong rotation front three, the White Sox are a contender. Plus, Carlos Rodon (Tommy John) also appears all the way back now to provide pitching depth.

4. Astros: They had just one key injury, but it was to Cy Young winner Justin Verlander (groin surgery), whose presence is all the more important because Cole, the Cy Young runner-up, is now a Yankee. Verlander is considered a full-go for spring training, as is Lance McCullers Jr., who missed all of last season after Tommy John surgery. Other teams benefitting from integral starters being ready now who wouldn’t have been on Opening Day in March include Atlanta (Cole Hamels), Cleveland (Carlos Carrasco, Mike Clevinger) and Minnesota (Rich Hill).

5. Reds: Like the White Sox, they are an intriguing wild card. Eugenio Suarez, who hit 49 homers last season, had offseason shoulder surgery and would not have been ready if the season began in late March. Now, he goes to third base, which allows the Reds to more comfortably use Mike Moustakas at second base or DH.
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T15D23
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Re: Yankees Off Season Thread

Postby T15D23 » Tue Jun 30, 2020 8:15 pm

Yankees hint that Aaron Judge, other stars may be ready for Opening Day
George A. King III

Spring training 2.0 doesn’t provide the feel of flowing optimism that smothers the real deal in February when everything is new and the buzz of a big-league season is closing in.

However, when it comes to Aaron Judge, Giancarlo Stanton, Aaron Hicks and James Paxton, the Yankees are encouraged the quartet will be able to help them get through a 60-game regular season on top of the AL East.

“We are very optimistic as of right now that maybe his proclamation that he would be ready for Opening Day [July 23] in the lineup will ring true,’’ GM Brian Cashman said Tuesday on a conference call about Judge, who was diagnosed with a top right rib fracture in March and wouldn’t have been ready for the original March 26 Opening Day. “He has been doing all his physical activities. Now it comes down to game reps, facing live pitching and seeing if he is in game shape. I think there is optimism that if everything works out in spring training 2.0 he has a shot to be ready to go. He has checked all the boxes so far and it is optimistic that it is possible that he would be ready to go by Opening Day.’’

Due to a calf injury suffered during fielding drills in February, Stanton would not have been ready to play on March 26 either. Now, he could be in line for regular work at DH.

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James Paxton, Giancarlo Stanton and Aaron Judge, Aaron HicksN.Y. Post: Charles Wenzelberg (3)

“If you are shooting for the DH role by Opening Day, I think that is a possibility,’’ Cashman said of Stanton who was limited to 18 games last season due to left biceps and right knee injuries. “Again, the game reps and how he would look and properly be prepared in the three-weeks situation in a legitimate outfield [spot] I think that is to be determined. And just like the strong physical demand of running the bases, even though he is a DH, to make sure that the conditioning is 100 percent complete. I think the next three weeks will determine that, but there is optimism at the very least the DH spot could be in play for us.’’

Cashman said Paxton enters spring training 2.0 ready to go after recovering from back surgery in February and believes Hicks could be in center field against the Nationals on July 23.

The GM was upbeat about Hicks, who had Tommy John surgery following last October’s ALCS loss to the Astros.

“I don’t think there is any concern with his reconstruction of his Tommy John surgery. I think it has to do more where he is at physically conditioning-wise,’’ Cashman said. “I am sure he feels he will be game ready by Opening Day. I think that is possible.’’

Cashman said he is optimistic the foursome will be ready for Opening Day, but didn’t want to say for certain before making promises he can’t keep.

“I am giving myself a little wiggle room and defer to how difficult this sport can be and how challenging it can be. Nothing is certain with any of these things but health-wise we are in a good position,’’ Cashman said. “Either they are resolved or are resolving.’’
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T15D23

- 11/25/03 GBMA

- 6/11/04 GBCJ

- 6/9/07 God Bless Leo

- 10/16/07 God Bless Huck

- 11/12/11 God Bless Mom

- 09/24/14 God Bless Dad

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Re: Yankees Off Season Thread

Postby davis2 » Tue Jun 30, 2020 11:31 pm

I'm still hoping we see a season...
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The Red Sox Suck!


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