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Spring Training Notes: 2018
2 years ago  ::  Feb 28, 2018 - 10:40AM #81
Posts: 32,868

Aaron Judge will make spring debut Wednesday as Yankees’ DH, will play right field Friday 

DUNEDIN — Aaron Judge will DH and get an at-bat or two in his spring debut on Wednesday, Aaron Boone said.

Judge will then play right on Friday, assuming everything goes well.

“He’s in a good place, but we’ll go slowly,” Boone said.

Giancarlo Stanton will start in right on Wednesday.

“I was actually going to play Judge in right, but Giancarlo DHed on Monday, so we don’t want to do that two games in a row,” Boone said. “It makes more sense to do it this way.”

Judge underwent offseason surgery on his left shoulder, and was slated to miss the first five or so games of the spring with the team wanting to take it slow.

“I always look forward to seeing the regulars take their reps,” Brian Cashman said.

Asked if Judge’s rehab program has gone smoothly, Cashman responded: “No worries. He was pushed back a little later in terms of communication with the doctor — not from any setbacks. (The doctor) just said he wanted to give him more time so we adjusted. He’s a little late out of the gates, but better safe than sorry.”

Cashman said the anticipation is that Judge will be ready for Opening Day.

Chad Green made his spring debut, starting and giving up a run on two hits in 1.2 innings. He struck out three — including Josh Donaldson and Justin Smoak — while also surrendering a homer to Russell Martin.

Green, who is being stretched out as a starter, says he’s fine with whatever role the team gives him in 2018. “It’s just going to play itself out,” Green said.

Clint Frazier (concussion) was slated to ramp up his activity on Tuesday, though all signs seemed to be encouraging toward his eventual return. “We’ll give him the time necessary to make sure that the concussion protocols are followed, and when it’s resolved we’ll get him going,” Cashman said.

The Yankees beat the Blue Jays 9-8 to improve to 5-0 this spring. Intriguing prospect Estevan Florial recorded his second standup triple. Danny Espinosa, who is competing for the starting job at second, ripped a homer. Jacoby Ellsbury went hitless in three at-bats.

2 years ago  ::  Feb 28, 2018 - 10:43AM #82
Posts: 32,868

MLB.com | Bryan Hoch: After he was traded from the Athletics to the Yankees last year, Sonny Gray had to figure out where he was going to live and move his family. Now he’s gotten comfortable with the Yankees and is enjoying the stability. Gray also talked about how he enjoys working with both Austin Romine and Gary Sanchez. He also said that Austin Romine should never start a playoff game over Gary Sanchez (okay, no he didn’t, but you will never convince me that he’s not thinking it).

New York Daily News | Mike Mazzeo: Seattle Seahawks quarterback Russell Wilson is in camp with the Yankees this spring, following a trade with the Texas Rangers. While Wilson is mostly expected to just talk with the team and participate in batting practice and drills, Brian Cashman said he wouldn’t be opposed to the idea of Wilson getting in a game as long as the Seahawks are okay with it. Cashman was opposed to the idea of Wilson throwing passes to Aaron Judge though. I guess he didn’t want Judge to get any ideas.

New York Post | Andrew MarchandAlex Rodriguez is joining ESPN’s Sunday Night Baseball booth this season, along with Matt Vasgersian. Apparently, ESPN was looking elsewhere for play-by-play guys, Bob Costas and Michael Kay were considered for the job. However, they were extremely interested in A-Rod. A-Rod’s agent used that as leverage to get Vasgersian the play-by-play job.

New York Post | George A. King IIIMiguel Andujar could’ve heard the writing on the wall when the Yankees acquired Brandon Drury from the Diamondbacks. Instead, he’s still doing everything he can to show why he was in the conversation in the first place. Andujar’s hit two home runs in two games, and won’t give up on competing for the third base job. He’s making the Yankees think, at the very least, which is all one can ask of him.

2 years ago  ::  Feb 28, 2018 - 10:44AM #83
Posts: 32,868

Meet Chad Green, the Yankees’ not-so-secret bullpen weapon

Chad Green Charles Wenzelberg

Righty Chad Green, who is expected to be a key and versatile cog in the Yankees bullpen again this season following a stellar performance in last year’s AL wild-card game, fields some Q&A with Post columnist Steve Serby.

Q: What has been your best and worst Yankees moment?
That one’s kind of easy for me right now. Probably the best one I guess would be the [2017] wild-card game [against the Twins] so far. What was on the line at the time. Just the circumstances of the situation. I think that was the most satisfying moment so far. And then, probably my least favorite, or the hardest point I’ve had to go through the past couple of years was the grand slam to (Francisco) Lindor in the division series. Just to let them back in the game like that, that was a pretty, I guess, low moment for me right there.

Q: What were you thinking on the mound during that hectic time during the (Lonnie) Chisenhall sixth inning at-bat and the immediate aftermath (after Joe Girardi’s non-challenge in Game 2 of the ALDS against the Indians)?
It all happened pretty fast at the time. It didn’t register what had happened right there. I didn’t even realize until probably after the game that that I would have, I guess, been out of the inning. It didn’t really affect me at that certain moment.

Q: What’s your first impressions of Giancarlo Stanton?
 Seems like a great guy. I think he’ll do great in New York. I think he’s got a good personality and stuff.

Q: What’s batting practice with him and Aaron Judge like?
I don’t think we’ll have to do too much shagging out there in the outfield. I think it’ll be more of a home run derby than anything.

Q: How does Aaron Boone’s style differ from Joe Girardi’s?
 He seems really laid back. I have nothing bad to say about Girardi, he treated me great for the year-and-a-half I was with him. I think Boone’s maybe a little bit more laid back. I guess he’s a little younger, and that’s the way our team’s headed, and I think he’ll be a great guy to manage us.

Q: The Yankees-Red Sox rivalry?
I think it’ll be fun. I think with their addition of (J.D.) Martinez and ours with Stanton, the headlines are going to be great. I think it’s going to be fun for the fans, for us, and those are always big games throughout the year, seems like they’re always Sunday Night Baseball and stuff like that. I think it’s gonna be great for baseball.

Q: What is your mound mentality?
 I try and take the same mentality in starting and relieving. Just try to be on the attack 24/7. I just try to challenge guys, not trying to nibble on the corners and stuff like that, so just try to go right at guys.

Q: What drives you?
 Honestly, it’s almost like a fear of failing. I think that’s what I think drives a lot of us every day. Try and be the best we can be every day.

Q: How are you a different or better pitcher in the bullpen than you were a year ago?
I think I use my arsenal a little different. Just using my fastball in all four quadrants of the zone, instead of maybe throwing 50-50, fastball-offspeed, or 60-40 or whatever I was as a starter. So I think just attacking guys with the fastball more would really help me if I ever go back to starting. They know what I’m throwing, I know what I’m throwing, and just try to challenge guys.

Q: You’re comfortable in the bullpen now, right?
 Yeah, a lot more comfortable. It probably took a month or so last year to get really comfortable. I was kinda bouncing around different situations, so I think that helped a lot last year to get put in different situations, so yeah I feel really comfortable whatever role they put me in.

Q: How do you feel when people call you a strikeout machine?
 Yeah, it’s a little weird. I got that question asked a lot last year as well. They know exactly what I’m throwing and I know what I’m throwing. It’s just something that happens. It’s kinda weird to be, I guess, a high-strikeout guy. I never really became a strikeout pitcher until I got to pro ball. Even in college I was under a strikeout an inning.

Q: If you can pick the brain of any pitcher in history?
 I’d probably say Nolan Ryan. He pitched for almost 25 years, something like that. Just to see how he pitched and stuff like that, I think it’d be pretty cool.

Q: You could face one hitter in history.
 Maybe somebody like Tony Gwynn, just because he never struck out. So it would be an accomplishment to try to strike that guy out. And, you might not give up a jack to that guy (laugh).

Q: What do you like best about this Yankees team?
I think just the camaraderie. Everybody gets along, and everybody enjoys showing up to the ballpark every day. That really helped us last year, I think it’ll be even better this year.

Q: Brian Cashman calling the Yankees The Little Engine That Could.
I think maybe that was something that kind of applied last year. I think we surprised some people last year. Obviously that surprise element is gone. Everybody’s going to give us their best shot, so I think we got to be ready for it. And I think we will be.

Q: What’s it like pitching in October at Yankee Stadium?
 It was nothing like I’ve ever experienced. It was just amazing. Obviously I was there for the wild-card game with Sevy (Luis Severino) on the mound, I’m just thinking. “I’m just gonna throw this for a couple of innings,” and then try to lock it in. You hear it all the time that anything can happen once you get to October, and shoot, next thing you know I was in the first inning. It was an unreal experience. Yankee Stadium was unbelievable.

Q: Electric is the word?
 Yeah. I wasn’t out in the bullpen when we were scoring all those runs, but I heard beers are flying everywhere and stuff. I hear it got pretty crazy (laugh).

Q: Your alma mater, Louisville, being stripped of its 2013 NCAA basketball championship. 
 Yeah, that’s a tough one. That one really hit home with me just because I was there in ’13 when we won the national championship. Hopefully the university can move forward and get this all behind them, so I think it’s about time for Louisville get out of the media.

Q: Who are some athletes in other sports you admire?
Growing up I was a Grant Hill fan for some reason. I had Grant Hill Pistons jerseys, and I was a Duke fan for a little bit. Maybe I just liked the way he played or something like that.

Chad Green signs a guitar for a fan earlier during spring training.Charles Wenzelberg

Q: Ken Griffey Jr. was your idol?
 Yeah, I was a left-hand hitter growing up, and obviously he was one of the best left-hand hitters of all time. Everybody tried to imitate his batting stance, and everybody did the backwards hat in the home run derby.

Q: Three dinner guests.
One of the presidents … not really sure who… but I think it’d be cool just to see their daily life; Mark Zuckerberg; Michael Jordan.

Q: How good of a basketball player were you in high school?
A: I was OK. I was nothing too special. I think I was just more of the guy who didn’t try to screw things up. I guess I could shoot a little bit (chuckle). High school’s probably the highest level I could go, let’s just say that.

Q: What are your favorite New York City things?
A: I think just walking around, exploring the city. Me and my wife rode bikes down one of the highways one day, which I thought was really cool just to see a lot of things in one day. Nothing too crazy. I think we just like to sightsee a little bit.

Q: How did you propose to your wife (Jenna)?
A: I was in a resort Mexico with one of my friends and his now wife. I think it was the last day we were there. I knew I wanted to do it at some point there, and I just so happened to wait until the last day. I was going to do it on the beach, it rained like the whole day, so that kind of messed up that plan, but I just did it in our room. I didn’t get too fancy with it though (chuckle).

Q: You didn’t get down on one knee?
A: I did do that. All the standard stuff. She went crazy, and yeah, that was that.

Q: Favorite movie?
A: Harry Potter series.

Q: Favorite meal?
A: I’m always a fan of a good steak. If not that, like a Parmesan-crusted chicken. Big fan of that.

Q: Message to Yankees fans.
A: Enjoy the moment right now. I think we have a great group, and whether we get off to a slow start or have a great April, I think it’s going to be a fun year.

Q: World Series-or-bust?

A: I think so. I think being so close last year, I think that’s the only way to look at it right now.

2 years ago  ::  Feb 28, 2018 - 7:31PM #84
Posts: 32,868

 February 28th Camp Notes

Undefeated no more. The Yankees lost for the first time this spring this afternoon, falling 9-6 to the Tigers. Ryan McBroom, who came over in the Rob Refsnyder trade, struck out with the bases loaded to end the game. Womp womp. Gary Sanchez launched the monster homer you see above, Giancarlo Stanton flicked his wrists and doubled off the wall, and Aaron Judge went 0-for-2 with a strikeout and a ground out in his first spring game.

In the late innings, Estevan Florial singled in two runs, went first-to-third on a wild pitch, then scored what was then the game-tying run on another wild pitch. He really makes things happen. Luis Cessa started and fell apart in his third inning of work, giving up a three-run homer to John Hicks. Adam Warren tossed three scoreless innings — glad to see they’re stretching him out a bit — and Dellin Betances allowed a run in two-thirds of an inning before hitting his pitch limit. Here are the box scoreand video highlights, and here’s the rest of the day’s news from Tampa:

  • In case you’re wondering, Judge said he and his surgically repaired left shoulder felt great following today’s game. “I don’t feel anything. It feels great. That’s the kind of progress we want. We just have to build on that and take it into our next game,” said Judge, who is scheduled to rest Thursday and play right field Friday. [Randy Miller]
  • Clint Frazier, who suffered a concussion crashing into the wall over the weekend, didn’t feel good yesterday — “I can’t even sit in my living room without feeling like (crap). I can’t shake the headaches,” he said this morning — but felt better this afternoon. He took swings today and could resume taking batting practice in a few days. [Erik BolandPete Caldera]
  • CC Sabathia will make his spring debut tomorrow afternoon. That game will be televised. Brandon Drury, Aaron Hicks, Miguel Andujar, Gleyber Torres, and Florial are all scheduled to make the trip. [Mike Mazzeo]
  • Chance Adams will start Saturday against the Red Sox. That game will be televised. So it’s Sabathia tomorrow, Masahiro Tanaka on Friday, and Adams on Saturday. [Boland]
2 years ago  ::  Feb 28, 2018 - 7:32PM #85
Posts: 32,868

The firmly entrenched shortstop, now with power! [2018 Season Preview]

Elimination game Didi is the best Didi (Getty Images/Gregory Shamus)

It’s funny to think, but just about a year ago, Didi Gregorius’ spot within the Yankees’ core was murky at best. He was injured, set to miss about a month with an injury suffered in the World Baseball Classic. But the more troubling sign was a top-rated shortstop quickly rising through the system and questions as to whether Sir Didi was the truly average-ish hitter he’d been in 2016. He’d been more than fine at short, but an upgrade in the future was potentially in the cards.

Flash to now and a lot of that has been answered. Gregorius followed his career year with one that blew it out of the water, drilling 25 home runs despite barely playing in April. He’s been such a two-way force that the Yankees are moving Gleyber Torres off short as to not displace the 28-year-old incumbent.

But still, some questions remain. What is Gregorius’ true offensive talent level? Could he truly top 30 home runs? Is he the great defensive shortstop he flashed in 2015, the low-regarded one according to the 2016 metrics, or somewhere in between? That brings us to his 2018 season, which he enters as the undisputed starting shortstop for the fourth straight year and a clear force within the Yankees’ clubhouse.


  • Steamer: .269/.314/.436, 20 HR, 5.3% BB, 13.4% K, 566 PA
  • ZiPS: .267/.306/.430, 20 HR, 4.7% BB, 13.5% K, 593 PA
  • PECOTA: .262/.312/.411, 18 HR, 5.8% BB, 14.7% K, 636 PA

The projection systems are pretty consistent in doubting Gregorius’ breakout. That’s fair. You look at his last three seasons as a whole and while there’s a definite improvement in power and discipline, none of them see more than 20 home runs this season. An intriguing note: PECOTA’s 90th percentile projection has Gregorius hitting just 21 home runs, though at the same time it does have him putting together a strong .292/.345/.459.

Can he hit 30 homers?

“He’s a line-drive, gap-to-gap hitter with occasional over-the-fence power.”

“He has well below-average power.”

These are a selection from Gregorius’ prospect write-ups in Baseball America back when he was a Reds prospect. Those look like pretty spot-on descriptors of Gregorius just three years ago during his first season in pinstripes. Even last year — after Gregorius hit 20 dingers in 2016 — there were well-reasoned articles questioning if his power was repeatable.

Time and the flyball revolution make fools of us all.

In 136 games last season, the then-27-year-old shortstop launched 25 home runs (28 with playoff elimination games) and 27 doubles, producing a career-best .191 ISO and cementing himself as a heart-of-the-order hitter come the postseason. Add in three of the most important Yankee postseason homers in recent memory and you have the best power season from a Bombers shortstop ever … and he missed almost an entire month.

With the addition of Giancarlo Stanton and the presumed health of Greg Bird, Gregorius likely moves down a few pegs in the Yankees’ order despite his breakout season. However, this could work to his benefit. If the big boppers perform as expected, then pitchers will assuredly rather take their chances with Didi than the light-tower power ahead of him. This could mean more fastballs down the plate or simply more opportunities to produce with players on base.

That’s where Gregorius truly shined last season. Overall, he was a solid .287/.318/.478 (107 wRC+) hitter. However, with men on base, he hit .327/.351/.535 (130 wRC+). That was good for a 122 tOPS+, meaning he was 22 percent better than he normally was when he batted with men on base.

That type of split isn’t the type of thing that carries over year to year, but one has to figure Gregorius will see more favorable situations even than last year, when he was often sandwiched between Aaron Judge and Gary Sanchez.

If you’re wary of his ability to repeat his power output, it’s easy to point to his home run distance. Among batters with at least 20 home runs, of which there were 117, Gregorius was dead last in average projected home run distance (375 feet), according to Baseball Savant. Among players with at least 10 home runs, Aaron Hicks is the only player with a smaller average distance (348 feet). His exit velocity was similarly low among home-run hitters in 2017.

So you’re guessing Didi simply took advantage of the short porch at Yankee Stadium? Wrong. He actually hit much better on the road. He had the second best road wRC+ and wOBA among shortstops last season behind just Carlos Correa. He had the 15th best overall road tOPS+ among all hitters with at least 150 road PAs. Did he hit some wall scrapers at road parks? Without a doubt. But he didn’t fully benefit from what CC Sabathia describes as a Little Ass Park.

There’s still more Gregorius can do to maximize his power output. While he posted a career-low groundball rate and pulled the ball more in 2017, you can see on the graph below that his flyball and pull rates weren’t drastically different from his career averages.


Where Gregorius was unique among both fellow Yankees and other flyball revolutionaries was his strikeout rate. It went down! He actually posted a career-best strikeout rate (12.3 percent), putting the ball in play more than ever. He still doesn’t walk much (4.4 percent in 2017), but that’s part of Gregorius’ value to the Yankees. He’s different from the high-strikeout hitters littering the lineup.

Stanton’s addition to the team should make southpaws quake in their boots, which is beneficial for Gregorius, who reversed his success against LHPs from 2016 with a lackluster performance in 2017. He wasn’t able to sustain that reverse platoon split, which is perfectly fine if he continues to crush righties.

Didi’s defensive value

Phew. That was a lot on Gregorius’ offense. I’ll be brief when discussing his defense.

Errors DRS UZR UZR/150
2015 13 5 7.4 7.9
2016 15 -9 -2.9 -3.4
2017 9 1 5.3 5.3

As you can see, the metrics thought Gregorius was better in 2017, although not quite at his 2015 levels. He was 11th out of 19 qualified shortstops in DRS last year, seventh in UZR/150.

Just watching him in the field, it was pretty evident he was better. The calling card for him has always been his arm, which allows him to make plays that other defenders cannot. The key is cutting down on the simply boots of groundballs hit at him, the plays with his hands that can sometimes gobble him up. He’s clearly talented defensively, but it makes sense why he wouldn’t grade out as above-average metrics-wise.


I enjoy a good home run as much as the next person, but I’d venture to say neither Aaron Judge nor Giancarlo Stanton is the most interesting Yankee day in day out.

Didi brings power too, but the explosion of fun and emotion out of him distinguishes him more than the explosions off his bat. He brings clear intangibles to this team. It’s not just the tweets (which are great). Dugout interviews, engaging commercials, a sense of humor and a sense of impeccable timing on the field. He’s endearing and he’s earned his spot as a fan favorite.

Gregorius may not be an elite shortstop, clearly at least a peg below the top class featuring names like Machado, Seager, Lindor and Correa. He doesn’t provide the defensive acumen of Andrelton Simmons. He’s still seventh among qualified shortstops over the last three seasons in fWAR. That’s quite good considering his lackluster offensive 2015 or defensive 2016.

My guess for this season? I don’t think he’ll quite top 30 home runs, but another 25 seems easily doable, particularly with better home splits and the opportunities provided from an improved heart of the order. However, to go with each home run, there will be the dynamite plays with his arm and the top-notch tweets. Sign me up for another year of Didi.

2 years ago  ::  Feb 28, 2018 - 7:34PM #86
Posts: 32,868

Yankees' Clint Frazier feels much better ... thanks to Russell Wilson?

New York Yankees outfielder Clint Frazier stands on second base after hitting a double in the fourth inning against the Cleveland Indians on Aug. 3, 2017 in Cleveland. (David Dermer | AP)

TAMPA -- Maybe Russell Wilson won't trade football for baseball.

What about for a job on the Yankees medical staff?

Outfielder Clint Frazier credited the Seahawks quarterback's advice with helping alleviate some of his concussion symptoms Wednesday.

Wilson's words of wisdom to the 23-year-old, who described his headache as having migraine intensity? Drink more water.

"I think I've drank a gallon, at least, (Wednesday)," said Frazier, who watched the Yankees lose to the Tigers, 9-6, at George M. Steinbrenner Field.

"I don't know for sure -- it pumps oxygen to your brain, a lot. I feel alive right now. Maybe I was lacking water. I don't know."

The NFL fined the Seahawks $100,000 last season when the team let Wilson skip concussion protocol and re-enter a game.

Wilson is at Yankees camp taking grounders and hanging with players. The team acquired his rights in an offseason trade with the Rangers. He's not expected to get into a game.

Earlier Wednesday, Frazier was in pain, and puzzled. On Saturday, he crashed into LECOM Park's left-field wall while making a catch during a win against the Pirates. His head nailed a scoreboard that was just behind a chain-link fence. He has said he felt fine Saturday night, but woke up Sunday morning in a daze.

On Wednesday morning, Frazier told reporters he couldn't even sit on his couch without "feeling like (bleep)."

Frazier said his workouts later in the afternoon -- as he hydrated -- were much better than they had been in the days prior. Frazier said he took 25 swings -- 20 front toss, five off a tee -- and said he didn't have much of a problem with them. Getting down the front-toss swings was important to Frazier, he said, because on Tuesday, focusing on a moving ball made him sick. 

The Georgia native said he expected to hit indoors Thursday and, if that goes well, he believes he'll be able to take batting practice outside Friday. 

"As you guys could tell," Frazier said, "I was sounding a little worried (Wednesday) morning. Obviously, this is a step in the right direction for me. I've never had this before. It's scary, man. It is. I feel a lot better. But I've got to. get rid of all of the symptoms before I can get back out there.

2 years ago  ::  Mar 01, 2018 - 10:35AM #87
Posts: 32,868

Thoughts following the first six Grapefruit League games

Bird and Judge. (Presswire)

So far, so good. The Yankees lost their first Grapefruit League game of the year yesterday, dropping their spring record to 5-1. They were the last team with a perfect 1.000 winning percentage. More important than the winning is health. Aside from Clint Frazier’s concussion, no one has gotten injured. That’s good. Anyway, I have some thoughts a week into the Grapefruit League season.

1. I’m the biggest Miguel Andujar fan you’ll find and I’d love to see him at third base on Opening Day. I still feel compelled to pump the breaks on his big spring to date. Andujar has gone 4-for-10 with a double and two homers so far, including a walk-off homer earlier this week. Andujar hit one homer against a Single-A kid and the other homer against a Double-A kid. Baseball-Reference.com’s quality of competition metric says the pitching Andujar has faced so far this spring falls somewhere between High-A and Double-A caliber. I love the kid, but these first ten spring at-bats don’t tell us anything we didn’t already know. Yes, it’s good he’s raking now rather than struggling, but his performance either way wouldn’t mean much given the sample size. I think Andujar belongs at third base on Opening Day because he’s handled Double-A and Triple-A, and is ready to face MLB caliber pitching. That’s the next challenge to continue his development. I’m glad Andujar has started the spring strong and I hope it continues against higher quality arms in the coming weeks. For now, he’s crushing the caliber of pitching we already know he can crush. I don’t think that means much at all.

2. The Yankees sure aren’t treating Chasen Shreve like a reliever who has to compete for a roster spot. He hasn’t pitched in a game yet! Neither have other no-doubt Opening Day roster relievers Aroldis Chapman, David Robertson, and Tommy Kahnle. Dellin Betances made his first spring appearance just yesterday. Jonathan Holder, Ben Heller, and Luis Cessa — the guys you’d figure Shreve would be competing against for the final bullpen spot — have all pitched in multiple games already. Instead, Shreve is getting the established reliever treatment and being brought along slowly. Hmmm. Shreve is out of minor league options, and because he’s left-handed and breathing (and cheap at $825,000), I think he’d get claimed on waivers if the Yankees tried to slip him through. He’s had some big time meltdowns the last few years, but at the end of the day, Shreve is a 27-year-old southpaw with a history of missing bats (career 26.5% strikeout rate) and no platoon split, plus he can go two innings at a time. If the Yankees consider him a lock for the bullpen — and the early indications this spring suggest that is the case — it’s understandable. Seems to me that if Shreve truly had to fight for a job, he would be pitching in games already, not being held back with the high-end bullpeners.

3. The rotation order is kinda sorta coming into focus. CC Sabathia starts today, Masahiro Tanaka starts tomorrow, and Luis Severino is expected to throw a simulated game Saturday rather than go on the road to face the Red Sox, according to George King. Opening Day is four weeks from today. Tanaka tomorrow and Severino on Saturday lines them up to start the first two games of the season, in that order, with five spring starts total and a few extra days of rest built in. Sabathia starting today before Tanaka puts him in line to start the fifth game of the season, which makes sense, because it would keep him away from the turf in Toronto in the first series of the regular season. So, based on that, the regular season rotation tentatively lines up like this at the moment:

  1. Masahiro Tanaka
  2. Luis Severino
  3. Sonny Gray or Jordan Montgomery
  4. Sonny Gray or Jordan Montgomery
  5. CC Sabathia

Plans can always change — Opening Day is four weeks from today and four weeks is an eternity in baseball — but that’s how things line up right now. Works for me. Knock on wood, health and the weather will cooperate, and everything will go according to plan.

4. Dillon Tate, who I ranked as the eighth best prospect in the system, has pitched in one game so far this spring, but it wasn’t televised, so we didn’t get to see him in action. I’m hoping to see him soon because apparently the Yankees have him working on a two-seamer. From Brendan Kuty:

Dillon Tate is working on a new pitch — that’s not the story. It’s a two-seamer — that’s not really story either. It’s how he started throwing it. Tate said the Yankees’ analytics department sized up his arm angle and spin rate and told him he’d be a “good candidate” to throw the pitch, so he’s been working on it.

Interestingly enough, Matt Gelb says teams have an agreement to share minor league PitchFX data, so that’s where the arm angle and spin rate stuff comes from. Anyway, a two-seam fastball could be a real game-changer for Tate. The book on him is that his velocity is high-end, but his fastball is kinda straight, and it gets squared up more than you’d like. The Nathan Eovaldi problem, basically. A two-seamer would give him a fastball with enough movement to miss the barrel. Learning a two-seamer isn’t easy — lots of guys struggle to locate the pitch because they don’t know how to control a fastball with that kinda movement — but if Tate can get it down, it could make a real difference for him. I hope to see him in a televised game soon to see how the two-seamer is coming along.

5. In these first few games I’ve heard Aaron Boone encouraging his players from the dugout rather enthusiastically — “Outstanding Birdie!” was a good one during the spring opener, after Bird worked a full count — which is definitely not something I can ever remember Joe Girardi doing at any point. I’m not trying to knock Girardi here. I can’t ever remember any manager yelling like Boone has been this first week. I assume this is some new to the job enthusiasm and Boone will eventually tire himself out, though I find all these little differences between Boone and Girardi fascinating. Girardi was very business-like and hey, that’s great. He won a title doing that. Boone is so much more outgoing, and he really seems like a big time player’s manager. That doesn’t mean he doesn’t prepare or things like that. Boone and Girardi just have very different personalities. It’s like the Yankees replaced Girardi with his exact opposite, and that is usually how managerial changes go. The Phillies replaced old school Pete Mackanin with the new school Gabe Kapler. The Red Sox replaced the old school John Farrell with the new school Alex Cora. The Yankees replaced the stern Girardi with the much more easy going Boone. Yelling words of encouragement from the dugout? That’s a new one.

Boone. (Presswire)

6. One thing I’ve noticed this last week is that holy cow, the Yankees’ minor leaguers have been so much more impressive than minor leaguers with other teams. It’s not just the teams the Yankees are playing. I’ve watched lots of baseball the last few days, both Grapefruit League and Cactus League, and the Yankees seem to have more talent than other clubs. The various scouting publications say New York’s farm system is second best in the game behind the Braves and I can see why. These kids are talented, they know how to play the game, and many of them are close to the big leagues. The pitchers all seem to throw 96 with nasty hooks and the position players all have power or speed or both. I get the Tigers didn’t send their A-team on the road yesterday, but they were running relievers throwing 90-92 mph with no command out to the mound. The Yankees had their third tier arms (Brady Lail and Will Carter, for example) on the mound throwing mid-90s. It has been eye-opening. The Yankees have gobs of talent and a very deep farm system, and that talent has been on display already this spring. It’s awfully fun.

7. I saw my first bit of new mound visit rule weirdness yesterday. As the Yankees rallied in the ninth inning, Detroit’s pitching coach went to the mound to talk to the pitcher, then a batter or two later the catcher got up and started to make his way to the mound. Catchers going to the mound counts as a mound visit now, so it would’ve been the second visit to the pitcher, necessitating a pitching change. The Tigers’ coaches had to yell from the dugout to stop the catcher. He got maybe a step beyond the plate before retreating back. There aren’t many mound visits in general in Spring Training because the pitchers are usually on strict pitch counts and no one cares about the score or the outcome, so we’re not going to see how the new rules really change the game until Opening Day. I reckon yesterday won’t the last time I see a catcher start to go out to the mound to talk things over with the pitcher, only to get told to go back behind the plate by the coaches.

8. And finally, there are no instant replay challenges in Spring Training, and I have to say, it is quite refreshing. The play happens and … that’s it. No one argues, no one stalls for time so the replay guy can look at the play, nothing. It was the same way in the first two rounds of the World Baseball Classic last year. They had replay for homers only. It’s nice to go back in time to the pre-instant replay era of baseball. Don’t get me wrong, I am pro-instant replay — getting the call right is the most important thing — and I’m glad MLB has a system in place. It’s just nice to watch a few meaningless games without it. There’s no stalling and I’m not waiting anxiously for a replay after every close play.

2 years ago  ::  Mar 01, 2018 - 10:36AM #88
Posts: 32,868

Yankees, Phillies lineups Thursday: Miguel Andujar at DH

Here are the lineups for Thursday's Yankees-Phillies game at Spectrum Field in Clearwater, Florida.

1. CF Jacoby Ellsbury
2018 spring stats: .143 BA, 0 HR, 0 RBI, 3 G

2. 3B Brandon Drury
2018 spring stats: .400 BA, 0 HR, 0 RBI 

3. LF Aaron Hicks
2018 spring stats: .333 BA, 0 HR, 0 RBI, 3 G

4. DH Miguel Andujar
2018 spring stats: .400 BA, 2 HR, 3 RBI, 4 G

5. SS Danny Espinosa
2018 spring training: .286 BA, 1 HR, 4 RBI, 4 G

6. 1B Tyler Austin
2018 spring training: .000 BA, 0 HR, 0 RBI, 2 G

7. C Austin Romine
2018 spring stats: .600 BA, 0 HR, 0 RBI, 3 G

8. 2B Jace Peterson
2018 spring stats: .000 BA, 0 HR, 0 RBI, 5 G

9. RF Jake Cave
2018 spring stats: .333 BA, 0 HR, 1 RBI

CC Sabathia
2018 spring stats: None

Phillies lineup
1. 2B Cesar Hernandez

2. 1B Carlos Santana

3. CF Aaron Altherr

4. LF Rhys Hoskins

5. SS J.P Crawford

6. C Jorge Alfaro

7. 3B Ryan Flaherty

8. DH Corban Joseph 

9. RF Jhailyn Ortiz

Phillies starting pitcher: RHP Nick Pavetta
2018 spring stats: 9.00 ERA, 1 G, 2 IP

Friday's starting pitcher: Masahiro Tanaka
2018 spring stats: None

Saturday's starting pitcher: Chance Adams
2018 spring stats: 9.00 ERA, 1 G, 1 IP

2 years ago  ::  Mar 01, 2018 - 10:38AM #89
Posts: 32,868

MLB.com | Bryan Hoch: The talk of this offseason and spring training has definitely been about Aaron Judge and Giancarlo Stanton. Have you heard that Stanton is a Yankee? It’s pretty cool. Yesterday, they appeared in the same lineup for the first time of the spring. They were not the topic of discussion after the game ended though. No no, people needed to talk about Gary Sanchez and what he did.

Newsday | Erik Boland: As you well know, Gleyber Torres is competing for a spot on the Opening Day roster. His defense was on display yesterday, both the bad and the good. The bad was an errant flip to Sir Didi that would wind up leading to a dinger. The good were a couple of nice defensive plays and seeing how he bounced back after his error. Still plenty of spring training left though.

MLB.com | Andrew Simon: Meanwhile, at third base, Miguel Andujar is making his presence known. There does not seem to be anything wrong with his offense and this article has a good look at why. Unless you don’t like hearing about how good his bat is. That’d be weird.

New York Post | Ken Davidoff: Okay okay, let’s talk about Aaron Judge. It’s been a while after all. It was great to see him back in the lineup yesterday. His 2017 was simply a treasure to behold. The question on most fans’ mind is if he can repeat his Rookie of the Year/MVP-caliber performance. Or perhaps it’s the opposite. What if he actually improves on it? That’d be neat.

MLB.com | Bryan Hoch: Clint Frazier will be inactive for a while as the Yankees’ are following concussion protocols. Thankfully, he’s been getting advice from newest Yankees’ QB Russell Wilson. Wilson has been giving Red Thunder advice on certain techniques NFL players use to help. Here’s hoping it helps. Concussions are not anything to take lightly.

2 years ago  ::  Mar 01, 2018 - 10:40AM #90
Posts: 32,868

Neil Walker tells Billy Witz of the New York Times that his camp held fairly extensive talks with the Yankees before they acquired Brandon Drury (all links to Twitter). Walker said he and his agents felt that they were “fairly close” to hammering out a deal with the Yanks, who instead swung a trade to bring in Drury for added infield depth. The 32-year-old switch-hitter felt the Yankees were a strong fit, as he knows the rigors of playing in the New York media market and was “certainly willing” to bounce around the infield and play multiple positions.  Walker was hoping for a multi-year deal with the Yankees, though, and suggests that the team ultimately “decided to hang onto money for midseason,” when they could be in the market for adding veterans via trade.

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