New York Yankees: Extend Aroldis Chapman?

It appears as though the curtain is starting to come down on the New York Yankees’ playoff chances for 2016. The team has dropped the first two games after the All-Star Break to the Boston Red Sox, one of the many clubs they are pursuing. Most people feel that if this losing continues, the team should begin to explore trade options for certain veterans. One of the names mentioned has been closer Aroldis Chapman. However, in reading Fox Sports’ Ken Rosenthal column from Friday, the opposite could happen. The possibility may exist that the Yankees actually sign Chapman to a contract extension.

Courtesy: nydailynews

Courtesy: nydailynews

Here is what Rosenthal wrote:

One possibility that the Yankees are considering if they stay competitive, according to major-league sources: Signing potential free-agent closer Aroldis Chapman to an extension.

The team has yet to initiate any such discussions, sources say, and retains the option of trading Chapman and then re-signing him in the offseason without losing a draft pick.

Notes he uses the term, “if they stay competitive”. Well, what if they do fall out of the playoff race completely? What if they extend Chapman and instead trade Dellin Betances and/or Andrew Miller? Think about it, of those three relievers, which is the one that is likeliest to bring back the smallest return? That would be Chapman, who will be a free agent after the season. Miller is club controlled for the next two seasons at a reasonable $9 million dollar per year while Betances will be just entering his first year of arbitration. Money will not be an issue in extending Chapman; the contracts of Mark Teixeira and Carlos Beltran will be coming off the books, a savings of roughly $35 million dollars. Re-signing Chapman will allow the club to continue to pursue what they have been doing for the last two seasons: rebuild while trying to stay competitive. If the Yanks trade Betances or Miller and extend Chapman, their bullpen will remain a strength for 2017 and their haul for the reliever dealt will most likely be a young player that is just about or already is Major League-ready.

As long as the Yanks continue their slide over the next couple of weeks, speculation will run rampant about what they will be looking to trade. Sometimes the obvious isn’t so obvious. The thought of signing Chapman to a new deal never crossed my mind until reading Rosenthal’s column. The thought seems a little crazy but if the Yankees are intent on contending in 2017, it actually makes sense.

Like Subwaybaseball on Facebook and follow on Twitter @subwaybaseball

 

 

New York Mets: Keeping Their Heads Above Water

Welcome to life after the All-Star Break where we separate the pretenders from the contenders. At 47-41, the New York Mets, the defending National League Champions, are hardly pretenders but things lately haven’t been making them feel like contenders, either. Injuries have wrecked both the high-maintenance rotation and the powerful but sometimes futile lineup. Sitting tied for second place in both the National League East and the second Wild Card, the Mets coming out of the break do not have a situation as dire as their neighbors in the Bronx. However, their play and their walking wounded are not inspiring much confidence in the fanbase. With nine games on the road to start this second half, New York has to keep their heads above water until their injured players begin (or if?) to return to full health.

Courtesy: mlb.com

Courtesy: mlb.com

The Mets kick off this next phase of the season in Philadelphia against the Phillies. After going through a stretch in which they won only six games out of 30, Philadelphia has managed to right the ship a little, entering the break only six games under .500. This, for a team that was expected to lose close to 100 games this year. The Mets are only 3-3 against the Phils but have pummeled them at Citizens Bank Park the last couple of seasons. Two out three to start the second half is the way to go. Next, the Mets travel to Chicago for three games against the revenge-seeking Cubs. All New York has done is beat the Cubbies eight straight games and Chicago is 2-8 over their last ten contests. Win at least one game in Chicago and look to meet up with them down the line. Finally, it’s three games in the Fish Tank as the Amazins travel to play the Miami Marlins. This is the team New York is tied with in the playoff standings and are 5-4 against so far this season. The Mets took two out of three from them earlier this month at Citi Field.

This isn’t a make or break road trip for the Mets. However, they can’t lay a total egg and go 2-7 or 3-6.  A game under or over .500 will show that despite all of their misfortune, this team can still be a threat down the stretch. After this, the schedule becomes a bit more manageable. The Mets will have 12 games against the bottom three teams in the National League West, all of whom are at least eight games under .500. Nine of those contests are at home and the three road games are in Arizona where the Diamondbacks are an awful 15-32 at Chase Field. The Mets should go 9-3 against those three teams and their outlook on the rest of the season will be much better. However, let’s get through these nine games first.

Like Subwaybaseball on Facebook and follow on Twitter @subwaybaseball

New York Yankees: Unlucky 13 Out of the Break?

13 games. 13 days. Four teams. These next 13 days will pretty much determine the season for the New York Yankees. The Bronx Bombers begin play on Friday with a record of 44-44, mark that never strays too far from break-even. They are in fourth place in the American League East, 7 1/2 games behind the Baltimore Orioles. As far as the Wild Card goes, the club is 5 1/2 games out of the second spot, however they have to leapfrog over five teams to get there. If the Yanks are indeed a playoff team, they can’t afford to go 7-6 over these next 13 games. That’s not good enough anymore. Straddling .500 just doesn’t cut it. At a minimum, New York needs an 8-5 stretch, not an easy feat considering the caliber of competition this team will be playing. At least the Yanks have the luxury of playing the first ten contests at home where they are 23-18.

Courtesy: nbcnewyork

Courtesy: nbcnewyork

Up first are the Boston Red Sox who, despite making some big headlines in the offseason with the acquisitions of David Price and Craig Kimbrel, aren’t done tinkering. Over the last two weeks, the Sox have swung deals for Aaron Hill, Drew Pomeranz and Brad Ziegler, the latter a reaction to the knee injury that will keep Kimbrel on the shelf for at least three weeks. The Yanks are 2-4 against the Red Sox, with their last meeting taking place at the beginning of May. After the weekend is complete, the Orioles come to town for four games. Baltimore struggled a bit going into the All-Star Break with a 4-6 mark over their last ten games, winning their final two contests. The big bats of the Orioles’ offense will be on full display so the Bomber offense needs to bring their “A” game. The O’s have taken the first four of six games between the two teams. The San Francisco Giants are next up on the docket, sporting the Majors’ best record at 57-33. With three World Series titles over the last six seasons, the Giants just might be the sport’s best-run organization. After departing New York, the Yankees land in Houston to play the Astros, one of the hottest teams in the league. After a disastrous April, which included dropping two of three games at the Stadium, Houston is 41-24 since May 1st, putting them within striking distance of both the division and the Wild Card.

As you can see, the Yankees have their work cut out for them over the next two weeks. Had the Yankees began the season at .50o, their favorite number, they wouldn’t be in such must-win situations at this point in the season. They finished April at 8-14 and are 36-30 since then: 16-13 in May, 15-12 in June and 5-5 so far in July. They dug themselves a hole early and it doesn’t seem as though they can completely dig themselves out of it. That is why these next set of games are so crucial. With so many teams in front of them, average ball will not get it done. A 6-7 or a 7-6 record should give management the green light to begin exploring the trade market to sell. Pay attention to the next two weeks as it will most likely decide the fate of the 2016 New York Yankees.

Like Subwaybaseball on Facebook and follow on Twitter @subwaybaseball

 

Reviewing 5 New York Mets’ Predictions for 2016

With the All-Star Game now history and an extra day without baseball, now is the perfect time to review exactly how my prognostication skills are. Before the 2016 season began, I declared that the New York Mets would repeat as National League Champions by winning 94 games. Click here if you would like to read the preview in its entirety. I also made predictions on five Mets’ players and how they would fare in the upcoming campaign. In preparation for this post, I patted myself on the back for one of them and felt sick while looking at another. Which means I am no better or worse than any expert who actually does this for a living.

Courtesy: foxsports

Courtesy: foxsports

1-Matt Harvey will have a monster season.

Could I have been any more wrong? Or am I just a jinx? To me, all signs pointed to Harvey being a Cy Young contender. He had another year removed from Tommy John surgery and seemed primed to continue his ascension into being one of the top pitchers in the game. Instead, he is now done for the season and Mets’ fans are becoming increasingly disenchanted with him. What kind of Harvey will we see in 2017? Don’t ask me because my first go-around on making a declaration on him was a disaster.

2-David Wright will play in no more than 100 games.

Sadly, this is true. Even worse, this is something that is not going to get better. In fact, you can make the argument that we may not see Wright in a uniform again. First, it was spinal stenosis last year, a condition that is not going away. This year, it was surgery on a herniated disk in his neck. That is a lot to overcome for a normal person, never mind a 33-year old professional athlete.

3-The Neil Walker you saw in Pittsburgh will be the same Neil Walker you see in New York.

With 15 home runs, he is on pace to best his career-high which is 23, set in 2014. The batting average of .254 and on-base percentage of .323 are slightly below his overall numbers in Pittsburgh. His defense is just as steady and his clubhouse presence will be needed now more than ever with the rash of injuries to the Mets. The number you worry about is 37 as in the amount of RBI’s he currently has. Like most of the Met hitters, Walker seems to be in the business of solo home runs and the run production for these Met hitters outside of the long ball is almost nothing. Walker and the rest of the crew will have to turn this around in the second half.

4-Steven Matz will not make 20 starts in the Majors.

With 16 outings already, it appears as though the rookie will exceed that number. However, he is pitching with chips in his elbow, a condition which will require surgery at some point. Hopefully for the team and the player, that time doesn’t come until the offseason. Matz hit a rough patch once it was revealed what he was dealing with but has rebounded nicely in his last two outings. Against the division rival Miami Marlins and Washington Nationals, he allowed only five earned runs in 14 innings, albeit both in losing efforts. Still, you can’t help but wonder if the first time Matz struggles will it be a sign that his season ends early?

5-Yoenis Cespedes will regress………slightly.

Is there any way Cespedes could have kept up with that monster pace he established during his first 50 games in New York? With 21 home runs, he is on pace to match or exceed the 35 he hit last year combined with the Mets and Detroit. His average is above .300 and his on-base percentage sits at .372. However, his injury right before the break calls into question how healthy will he be once play resumes. If Cespedes is out for any length of time, then the Mets will not have much of a chance to defend their National League crown. Then the next hurdle will be to determine whether or not he opts out of his contract after the season. That’s a prediction for another day.

Like Subwaybaseball on Facebook and follow on Twitter @subwaybaseball

Reviewing 5 New York Yankees’ Predictions for 2016

With the All-Star Game now history and an extra day without baseball, now is the perfect time to review exactly how my prognostication skills are. Before the 2016 season began, I declared that the New York Yankees would win 84 games, finish in third place and fight for a Wild Card spot until the last week of the season. Click here if you would like to read the preview in its entirety. I also made predictions on five Yankees’ players and how they would fare in the upcoming campaign. In preparation for this post, I patted myself on the back for one of them and cringed while looking at another. Which means I am no better or worse than any expert who actually does this for a living.

Courtesy: sportsonearth

Courtesy: sportsonearth

1-Didi Gregorius will be even better in Year Two.

Is he ever. A career .250 hitter coming into the season, the 26-year old Gregorius is batting .298 and is playing his usual All-Star caliber defense at shortstop. He already has set a career-high in home runs with 11 and with the short right field in Yankee Stadium, 20 is not out of the question. He was one of the team’s hottest hitters coming into the break with ten hits in his previous 29 at-bats and hitting .350 in his previous 30 games. It wasn’t easy replacing Derek Jeter but Gregorius is making a mark of his own in New York.

2-There will be no repeat performance from Alex Rodriguez.

This was kind of an easy one to make considering how much Rodriguez cooled down in the second half of 2015. Despite hitting only .220, he does have eight home runs in 186 at-bats, putting him on pace for 15 or 16 by season’s end, not terrible for a 40-year old player. He is now even taking ground balls at first base in attempt at getting him more playing time and, hopefully, more production. I think his average will rise slightly in the second half to about .230 with 14 home runs. Not the numbers of a $25 million dollar player but not the worst player in baseball, either.

3-Masahiro Tanaka will win 16 or more games.

With a record of 6-2 and 18 starts under his belt, Tanaka would have to go about 10-2 in order for this to happen. That appears unlikely but it is not out of the realm of possibility. He has pitched well this year, sporting a 3.23 ERA and a solid 1.11 WHIP (Walks plus Hits per Innings Pitched) in 117 innings pitched. Of course, the concern with him is can he hold up and actually make 30 starts? He hasn’t during his first two campaigns in New York though that number had risen from 20 in 2014 to 24 last year. 16 is a lot to ask for at this point but as the old Lottery slogan states, “Hey, you never know”.

4-Carlos Beltran will not play in more than 105 games.

Not only has he on pace to play more than 105 games (83 so far), he is the Yanks’ MVP. The All-Star leads the Bombers in just about every major offensive category including home runs with 19 and RBI’s with 56. When the talk begins to turn of the Yankees selling parts if they fall out of the race, Beltran’s name is one of the first to come up. At 39, he doesn’t show any signs of slowing down and could probably play at least one more season. Even if he finishes 2016 in New York, we probably won’t see Betran in a Yankee uniform in 2017. His three-year deal signed prior to the 2014 season was a good one for the organization.

5-Mark Teixeira will be the Yankees’ Most Valuable Player.

Oh boy. I don’t there is much more to write other than I was hopelessly wrong. Maybe I meant he would be the team’s MVP in the second half? Ugh. There are still 74 games left in the season to make me a genius. Come on, Tex!

Like Subwaybaseball on Facebook and follow on Twitter @subwaybaseball

New York Mets’ Minor League Report 7-13-16

Over the last year, the New York Mets have dipped into their Minor League system quite a bit. They have promoted promising outfielders Michael Conforto and Brandon Nimmo and have dealt away promising prospects such as Michael Fulmer in order to improve the Major League roster. It is safe to say other than the shuttling back and forth of relievers from Triple A Las Vegas, the Mets will not be touching players on the farm in order to swing more deals. In order to deal a prized player such as shortstop Amed Rosario, New York would be looking for a sizeable return that is under club control for at least the next two seasons.

Courtesy: milb.com

Courtesy: milb.com

The Las Vegas 51’s came into their All-Star Break with a record of 46-43, good for second place and 6 1/2 games behind the El Paso Chihuahuas. They dropped three consecutive games heading into the break and owned a mark of 4-6 in July. The 51’s are sending three players to the Triple A All-Star Game which will be played Wednesday night: third baseman T.J. Rivera, designated hitter Travis Taijeron and starting pitcher Gabriel Ynoa. Taijeron participated in the AAA Home Run Derby but was eliminated in the first round.

With a record of 39-49, the Double A Binghamton Mets haven’t had a lot to cheer for. One of the bright spots in the team is second baseman Derrik Gibson who was signed by the organization last November. In his last ten games, the 26-year old Gibson has 14 hits in 35 at-bats, a .400 average. He was originally selected in the second round of the 2008 Draft out of Seaford High School in Seaford, Delaware by the Boston Red Sox. The 26-year old Gibson spent seven seasons in their organization, rising as high as the Triple A level in 2014. For the B-Mets, the right-swinging Gibson is hitting .283 and owns a .366 on-base percentage with eight stolen bases, both club-highs.

Ricky Knapp of the St. Lucie Mets continues to shine in the Florida State League. His 2.08 ERA is second-best among all Sunshine State pitching and he also owns a 1.11 WHIP (Walks plus Hits per Innings Pitched). The 24-year old Knapp, taken in the eighth round of the 2013 out of Florida Gulf Coast, is 7-4 in 90 2/3 innings over 14 total appearances, 13 of which were starts. The right-handed pitcher made one start for the B-Mets on July 2nd, hurling seven innings of two-run ball in a 9-2 Mets’ victory. In three of his 13 starts, Knapp has allowed zero runs, pitching a total of 22 innings in those outings.

Like Subwaybaseball on Facebook and follow on Twitter @subwaybaseball

 

 

New York Yankees’ Minor League Report 7-13-16

There was quite a bit of drama in the farm system of the New York Yankees this past week. We learned that outfielder Aaron Judge went on the disabled list with a mild PCL sprain and bone bruise on his left knee. The injury is expected to keep Judge on the sidelines for at least three weeks. The other setback was the suspension of shortstop Jorge Mateo. The Tampa Yankees’ star was given the boot for two weeks for what is being called insubordination. At first, there was the thought that he was upset about not being promoted to Double A Trenton. However, Brendan Kuty at NJ.com wrote that it was for an “off-field issue the Yankees had already warned him about. The suspension cost Mateo a chance to play in the since-completed Futures Game.

Courtesy: NJ.com

Courtesy: NJ.com

The AAA Scranton Wilkes-Barre Railriders steamed into the All-Star Break with an International League-best record of 56-35. They own a four game lead in the North Division and are an astounding 31-14 on the road. Scranton is 7-3 in July, helping them maintain a somewhat comfortable lead despite all but one team in their division being over .500. The Railriders have four players that were selected for Wednesday night’s AAA All-Star Game: Judge, fellow outfielder Ben Gamel, catcher Gary Sanchez and starting pitcher Chad Green. Sanchez also played in the Futures Game, starting behind the plate and going hitless in his two at-bats as his World Squad beat the U.S. team by a score of 11-3.

Tyler Austin was once considered one of the top prospects in the Yankees’ system, having been named its Minor League Player of the Year in 2012. However, he has been passed on the depth chart by the likes of Judge, Mateo and Sanchez. Austin, taken in the 13th round of the 2010 Draft from Heritage High School in Conyers, Georgia, has seen time throughout his career at first base, third base and the outfield. He has split 2016 between Trenton and Scranton, hitting .277 with a .371 on-base percentage. Nine of his 13 home runs have come with the Railriders and he owns a total of 61 RBI’s. Austin has played most of the year at first base meaning a September call-up could be in line for him.

Right-handed pitcher Yefrey Ramirez made quite the debut for Tampa. He was named the Florida State League Pitcher of the Week for games ending July 3rd by allowing one run over seven innings, walking no one and striking out 11 in a 5-1 victory over Lakeland. The Yanks took the 22-year old Ramirez in the first round of the Rule 5 Draft last December from the Arizona Diamondbacks. He was originally signed by the D-backs as a non-drafted free agent at the age of 17 in January 2011. Prior to his promotion to Tampa, Ramirez was 4-2 with a 2.80 ERA for the Charleston River Dogs. He struck out 66 and walked only 14 in 61 innings pitched.

Like Subwaybaseball on Facebook and follow on Twitter @subwaybaseball

 

 

 

New York Yankees All-Star Game Memory: Mariano Rivera

2013 marked the end of the era. The incomparable Mariano Rivera decided to make that season his final one, leaving behind a legacy that sees him as the greatest relief pitcher in Major League history. Unfortunately, like Derek Jeter the following season, the New York Yankees could not give him one final October to shine. So it was the All-Star Game on July 16th that represented Rivera’s last great moment on the National stage. The Midsummer Classic did take place in New York, albeit at Citi Field, the home of the New York Mets.

Courtesy: USA today

Courtesy: USA today

Deciding when to use the great Mariano would be a conundrum for American League manager Jim Leyland. It would have been nice for Rivera to actually save the game (which the AL did win by a score of 3-0) but what if the National League had the lead by the time the ninth inning rolled around? Leyland decided to bring in Rivera for the top of the eighth inning. What happened next was magical. The AL players did not go out to their positions when it came time to go into the field. Instead, they and the rest of the teammates along with the entire NL squad, stood at the top of their respective dugouts and gave Rivera a long ovation. It was truly one of those moments you had to see to believe and one of the most touching moments you will ever see on a playing field. Then Rivera did what he had done so wonderfully for 17 years. He set down the side in order; Jean Segura grounded out, Allen Craig flied out and Carlos Gomez grounded out to end the frame. And that was it, the ninth and final appearance of the great Mariano Rivera in All-Star competition was over in a blink of an eye.

Like Subwaybaseball on Facebook and follow on Twitter @subwaybaseball

New York Mets’ All-Star Game Memory: Jacob deGrom

It seems as though no matter what he does, Jacob deGrom gets overshadowed by his fellow mound mates on the New York Mets. Matt Harvey has been nicknamed “The Dark Knight” while Noah Syndergaard goes by the moniker of “Thor”. Yet, it has been deGrom who has avoided the injury bug and been the most consistent member of New York’s heralded pitching staff since winning the National League Rookie of the Year Award in 2014. Despite all of the perceived slights, there is one thing that DeGrom will always hold over his teammates: a dominating All-Star appearance.

courtesy:nj.com

courtesy:nj.com

It was on July 14th of last year in Cincinnati when deGrom toed the rubber in the top of the sixth inning with the National League trailing 3-1. The hitters, in order, were Stephen Vogt, Jason Kipnis and Jose Iglesias. These three men proceeded to become the star victims in one of the most scintillating performances in All-Star Game history. DeGrom needed a mere ten pitches to blow away Vogt, Kipnis and Iglesias, a performance that captivated not only fans but the best of the best in Major League Baseball. Clearly running on adrenaline overdrive, his fastball topped out at 98 miles per hour. In all the years of watching the All-Star Game, I am not sure I have seen a more breathtaking moment than Jacob deGrom firing missile after missile. Let’s see Harvey and Syndergaard top that performance.

Like Subwaybaseball on Facebook and follow on Twitter @subwaybaseball

New York Yankees All-Star Memory: Derek Jeter

The year 2000 was quite the season for the New York Yankees in general and specifically for Derek Jeter. The Yanks would capture their third consecutive Word Series Championship, a feat only done twice before in Major League Baseball’s long and illustrious history. As far as Jeter goes, he batted .339, the third-highest single season average of his career and he finished tenth in the American League Most Valuable Player race. More importantly, he was named the MVP of both the All-Star Game and the World Series, the first and only player to do so. As we get ready for the 2016 All-Star Game, let’s take a look back at Jeter’s outstanding performance on that July 11th evening.

Courtesy of usmagazine

Courtesy of usmagazine

The game was held at Atlanta’s Turner Field. Alex Rodriguez was elected to start at shortstop for the American League but a head injury knocked him out of the game. Jeter was chosen to start by manager Joe Torre and he batted in his customary number two spot. In his first at-bat, Jeter doubled off Randy Johnson of the Arizona Diamondbacks. In the top of the third, he laced a single off Kevin Brown of the Los Angeles Dodgers and would come around to score the first run of the game. In the following frame, Jeter made it three for three in the game and three for three off future teammates. He stroked a two-run single off Al Leiter, scoring Jermaine Dye and Travis Fryman breaking a 1-1 tie. It was a lead the AL would not surrender as they eventually won the game by a score of 6-3. Mariano Rivera closed out the contest in the ninth but not before giving up a run, the only time he gave up he was scored upon in his nine All-Star appearances. As for Jeter, this All-Star Game was only a warmup to his heroics in October.

Like Subwaybaseball on Facebook and follow on Twitter @subwaybaseball