Greene’s success a product of recent player development changes

Fan Confidence Poll: August 18th, 2014
Injuries will limit Yankees' options when rosters expand in September
(Scott Iskowitz/Getty)
(Scott Iskowitz/Getty)

Since joining the rotation a little more than a month ago, Shane Greene has been arguably the Yankees’ best starting pitcher. The rookie right-hander has a 2.93 ERA (3.25 FIP) with good strikeout (21.4%) and excellent ground ball (55.3%) rates in seven starts and 43 innings, and he’s shown no signs of slowing down either. He’s made it very easy to forget his ugly five batter, three walk MLB debut out of the bullpen back in April.

The Yankees called on Greene last month because they really had no other choice. CC Sabathia, Ivan Nova, and Michael Pineda were all hurt and Chase Whitley was crashing back to Earth. That was before Masahiro Tanaka went down too. Greene had mediocre Triple-A numbers overall (4.61 ERA and 3.41 FIP) but he had strung together a few strong starts, which was enough to get him a shot given the state of the rotation. He’s obviously taken advantage of the opportunity.

Greene’s path to the big leagues and pro ball in general was a rather unique, which makes his story and success that much more interesting and amazing. I’m going to save some time and quote myself from last winter’s prospect profile:

Greene was a mop-up man [at the University of West Florida] as a freshman … He blew out his elbow late in the season and had Tommy John surgery in May 2008 … The Argos took his scholarship away following the injury, so Greene transferred to Daytona Beach Community College. He didn’t pitch as a sophomore and wasn’t on the draft radar at all. Greene was throwing a bullpen session at his high school when he asked a Yankees scout (who was there to see someone else) to watch him throw and put in a good word with the University of Central Florida. The team ended up bringing him to Tampa for a workout three weeks before the 2009 draft … The Yankees liked what they saw during the workout enough to select him in the 15th round (465th overall) even though he had not pitched in an actual game in over a year.

Even if he crashes back to Earth in his next start or never throws another MLB pitch for whatever reason, the Yankees have already gotten a huge return on their investment in Greene. We’re talking about a late round pick who signed for only $100k, a relative pittance. Just getting a guy like that to the show — especially after drafting him even though he hadn’t pitched in a real game in a year due to injury — is a huge success.

Greene’s climb up the minor league ladder was not fast. He spent parts of two seasons with both Low-A Charleston and High-A Tampa, and it wasn’t until his sixth pro season that he reached Triple-A despite being a college draftee. Greene’s stuff improved as he got further away from elbow reconstruction but a general lack of control held him back. He had a 4.4 BB/9 (10.4 BB%) across two Single-A levels in 2011, then a 5.1 BB/9 (12.5 BB%) at High-A in 2012. Greene looked like a classic big arm, small command guy.

Then, last season, the now 25-year old Greene broke out with a 1.7 BB/9 (4.5 BB%) split between High-A and Double-A. Forget about cutting his walk rate in half, he cut it by almost two-thirds in an offseason. This year Greene has a 3.5 BB/9 (8.8 BB%) in Triple-A and a 2.9 BB/9 (7.7 BB%) in MLB. (The AL average is 2.9 BB/9 and 7.7 BB% this year, coincidentally.) That’s not as good as last year but it’s a major improvement from two or three years ago. That ability to harness his stuff and throw consistent strikes has taken Greene from interesting prospect to bonafide MLB rotation member.

There is no “the light bulb just came on” story here. Greene didn’t magically wake up one day with the ability to throw strikes with his mid-90s sinker and upper-80s slider. He cut his walk rate so much last year thanks to mechanical tweaks implemented by some of the Yankees’ minor league pitching gurus. George King (subs. req’d) explained last September:

Greene, 24, is armed with a 90-94 mph fastball, but it was an adjustment he made working with pitching coordinator Gil Patterson and Greg Pavlick, a senior pitching instructor, that helped him turn the corner.

“He was helped with the delivery where he kept his head more in line with the plate,” (VP of Baseball Ops Mark) Newman said. “He made a commitment to throw strikes and not throw the ball to the edge and nibble.”

Pavlick has been with the Yankees for more than a decade now, but Patterson is a relatively new hire. Well, a new old hire. He coached in the team’s minor league system from 2005-07 before leaving in 2008 for a similar position with the Athletics. The Yankees brought the very highly-regarded Patterson back and hired him away from Oakland in November 2012.

The club has gotten a lot of heat for their unproductive farm system over the last year or so, so much so that they essentially audited their staff and policies and implemented some procedural changes over the winter. In reality, the changes started both with the re-hiring of Patterson as well as the firing of long-time pitching honcho Billy Connors in September 2012. No personnel changes were made last winter, but two pretty big ones were made the year before.

There is no possible way of knowing how Greene would have developed without the help of Patterson (and Pavlick) — would he have made those same mechanical adjustments and improved his command anyway? Would he have never figured it out? Would he have done something else entirely and become even better than he is right now? We’ll never know. The timeline fits so wonderfully though. The Yankees bring back Patterson, he tinkers with the live-armed Greene, and suddenly he throws strikes and is awesome. It’s a great story, especially if it’s actually true.

Many fans, myself included, were underwhelmed and unhappy when the Yankees announced they were only making procedural changes to their player development system over the winter. After all, we don’t know what those changes are and we can’t actually see him at work, so they don’t really exist to us. The Patterson move flew mostly under the radar for the same reason: we don’t actually see him at work. That doesn’t mean he doesn’t have an impact though. He helped Greene clean up his delivery and get over some serious control problems, which has turned him into an important member of the MLB rotation. Every time he takes the mound, it is the organization’s recent player development changes at work.

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Fan Confidence Poll: August 18th, 2014
Injuries will limit Yankees' options when rosters expand in September
  • http://www.google.com Tanuki Tanaka

    Now I don’t know what they did and I don’t know if it would happen without the change it’s good that he kept improving.

  • Chip

    People who migrated over from the Lohud blog will know that for years I have been slamming Nardi Contreras and the Yankees for continuing to employ Nardi Contreras. I feel like Nardi destroyed Hughes, Joba and Kennedy – failed to recognize what he had in Christian Garcia and Tyler Clippard and may have been on the grassy knoll the day Kennedy was assassinated.

    I was (and am) thrilled with the Patterson hire and hope that his expertise helps to develop the next young crop of arms: Greene, Mitchell, Severino, Clarkin, Cothem, Hensley, Turley, Enns, etc…

    • TWTR

      It is beyond amazing how long Contreras and Connors lasted given their serial developmental failures.

      Beyond that, it is often about getting an opportunity. If there were no openings in the rotation, we wouldn’t be discussing him.

      So really, apart form Patterson/Pavlick, the lesson for the Yankees should be that homegrown guys should be afforded opportunities on a regular basis.

      • Chip

        Well on the flip side to that – you have to have confidence in your guys to want to give them an opportunity. If you look at the 2008 Yankees, that rotation to open the season was Mussina and then four homegrown Yankees (Andy, Wang, Hughes, IPK).

      • Rick

        To be fair, it’s not as if Greene had entirely earned his promotion. Had there not have been injuries to every player and Cashman’s mother, he would have (rightfully based on his merits) not have been given an opportunity.
        As always with these discussions, it’s NEVER as simple as the lesson for the Yankees it give homegrown guys a chance. That’s a gross over mis-simplification.

        • TWTR

          (This is a reply to Chip as well)

          It is really about the process. IOW, there are almost always injuries in the rotation given the fragility of pitchers.

          That can lead to opportunities for guys like Capuano, or it can be for someone like Greene or Mitchell.

          Maybe the next Greene won’t work out, but because of the potential upside of a Greene and the windfall savings that Mike references, the benefits so outweigh the risks that the case for opting for the young pitcher over the fungible veteran is overwhelming, imo.

          • Chip

            That makes sense and in general I agree (see Rich Hill vs. Webb or Lindgren) I understand the Capuano thing just because you want to have a LHP in the rotation to give teams a different look and the Yankees don’t have one ready (Turley is closest).

            My hope is that the Yankees embrace this philosophy on the offensive side of the ball as well and not just in their pitching staff.

      • YankeeBill

        Not sure about Contreras, but I know George loved Connors for whatever reason and insisted he stay on board. After George died, reason set in and he was marginalized and eventually terminated. And you’re starting to see the benefits now.

        • Willkamm

          The same Connors that was alleged to be Billy Martin’s drinking buddy?

          • YankeeBill

            Art Fowler was Billy’s drinking buddy. Connors was a long time Steinbrenner stooge. My understanding is that Connors told George to go f*** himself during a contentious meeting years ago and that was one way to make George your employer for life, no matter how incompetent you were. Stand up to George and his bullying and you were a member of the “in” crowd.

            • Willkamm

              Thanks. Not Connors but Fowler. Appreciate it. Obviously I couldn’t recall clearly. Must have been nice to be able to tell George “go f””” yourself.”

        • Chip

          I believe Billy still works for the Yankees as a senior adviser (kind of like Stick)

      • mitch

        which minor league arm hasn’t gotten a chance? They’ve been running the well dry the last few years

        • TWTR

          It’s a two- part process: 1) development and 2) opportunity.

          They have sucked at 1) for so long so that negates 2) to an extent, but neither IPK nor Joba got an extended opportunity to start, it took Phelps forever to get one, and Mitchell should be getting one now.

    • http://www.google.com Tanuki Tanaka

      To be fair, Garcia was rarely healthy enough to pitch and the FO destroyed Phil and Joba with the constant back-and-forth.

      • Chip

        Nardi was a big part of that back and forth.

        • WhittakerWalt

          Andy Pettitte swears by Nardi Conteras, but hey what does Andy Pettitte know?

          • Chip

            Great. Andy also loved pitching to Jim Leyritz it doesn’t mean Leyritz was a good catcher. Nardi obviously was effective for Andy, doesn’t mean he’s a good coordinator to run your pitching system.

            • TCF16

              Right, someone like you sitting behind a computer knows more than Andy Pettitte. There’s a lot more that goes on the field than you or I will never know, especially at the catching position, especially when it comes to the relationship between the picther and catcher.

              • Chip

                I never said I knew more than Andy about pitching. That said, Jim Leyritz was not a good catcher. He had a rapport with Andy that worked and was effective and that’s fantastic. Don’t confuse the notion that a pitcher (or coach) can work well with an individual with him being good for a group.

                • TCF16

                  My point is that Jim Leyritz was a great catcher – for Andy Pettitte. Metrics that don’t consider that are by their nature pretty flawed.

                  • Chip

                    Correct – and my point is that Nardi Contreras may have been a great pitching coach for Andy Pettitte but that doesn’t mean he was or is a good person to have running your organization’s pitching development.

                    • TCF16

                      Fair enough, operative word being “may”. I think it’s pretty difficult for people not involved in the organization to assess employees with behind the scense developmental roles. It’s not the same as assessing a player whose primary output is visible (on the field performance). Even a manager or GM are much harder to grade because there’s so much more that goes that we don’t see.

      • Newspaperguy

        Won’t ever forget that night in Texas that changed Phil’s career forever….what could have been

        • http://www.google.com Tanuki Tanaka

          I try to repress that so I don’t get sad every time Phil flashes some potential.

    • pat

      Christian Garcia is 28 and has all of 12 MLB innings under his belt. Not sure how that was a miss on the Yankees part. One of the most injury prone players the Yankees have ever had.

      • Chip

        They could have converted him to the pen to take some of the strain off of him, but you’re probably right.

        • Jorge Steinbrenner

          Yeah. Your mention of Garcia was a bit of an eyebrow raiser, but it’s all good.

    • Aaron Juez

      Hughes and Joba were great pitching prospects until they reached the majors. I’m not sure I would blame Nardi for them. Ian Kennedy has become a good pitcher so I’m not sure he was destroyed. Christian Garcia’s problem was and continues to be his health. Tyler Clippard was an organizational failure for not trying him out as a reliever. However, they clearly learned from that (Betances, Warren, Jose Ramirez).

      The Yankees have undoubtedly struggled developing players (especially pitchers). I’m just not sure how much blame goes to a specific person. The players you mentioned all reached the majors, some highly regarded. I could argue the minor league development was fine and something is happening at the major league level. I just don’t know. The problem is an organizational one and not just one person.

    • Deep Thoughts

      Correct me if I’m wrong, but didn’t Nardi somehow survive the 2012 purge to remain in the Yankee system to this day? When ManBan first hurt himself, then either came back too soon or rehabbed too hard, I thought I heard Nardi in the mix. I just can’t remember if he had been part of the solution or the problem.

      My recollection is that he was never far away from a pitcher with a nagging injury like Banuelos, Campos, Bleich, Jose Ramirez, et al.

      • Chip

        Yes, Nardi is still with the Yankees though I’m not sure if he now reports to Patterson or if it’s the other way around.

        Personally, I attributed the success of guys like Wang, Phelps and Nova to the fact that they were never highly touted as prospects and thus didn’t get the kind of attention from Nardi that a Hughes, Joba, Banuelos or Betances did.

      • JimmyToucan

        didn’t they ship nardi off to the DSL where his damage would be limited? kinda like connors was “reassigned”. the CIA equivalent of getting sent to the arctic for “research”.

  • Stevie Sacs

    This is encouraging news, specifically in regard to the player development aspects…

  • Newspaperguy

    Long time reader, first time posting. Really like it when you do articles like these Mike in which you or some other writer give us a behind the scenes look into the organization. Helps give some context to whats going on in the field.

    I’m still shocked by Shane Greene’s performance, because although i don’t consider myself to be a prospect junkie i still keep track of those who seemingly have a future for the big leagues and I did not know who this guy was. Considering guys like Cano, Wang, Greene, Nova, maybe even Gardner (i remember he was the lesser prospect of the big three outfielders with Tabata and Jackson) are having or have had significant big league success while the Jobas/Kennedys/Hughes/Tabatas have not, i think I’m ok with not having nearly as many top 100 prospects as the Sox……i think

    • Bigdan

      I’ve actually written quite a bit about this the last couple of years. Prospect rankings are the product of the Prospect Industry, a group who call themselves experts on player development but I’ve never seen any empirical evidence suggesting that they are. Top prospect lists for teams and the national list seem to be more wrong than right. I’ve heard it quoted that the top 100 list has a 70% bust rate.

      I think there are at least three reasons behind the failure of the Prospect Industry. The first is something I’ve written about a lot. The Industry’s fixation with the insane notion of “ceiling.” About 99% of the time, it is impossible to predict the major league ceiling of a player in the minor leagues. In fact, it is often impossible to predict the ceiling of young players currently playing in the major leaguers. I believe it takes about two years of major league play before you can evaluate a player’s ceiling with any confidence level. Phelps is a perfect example of that. Only now do we have some clear idea of what type of major league pitcher he can become. I shudder to think what his “ceiling” was when he was in AA. Gardner is another great example.

      Another reason is every minor league player has his own individual development arc. The arc can be effected by physical and mental maturity. Cultural factors. The type of coaching he receives. All sorts of things. Unless you get deep into a player’s life, that’s heard to measure and understand. Seeing him run around the bases won’t tell you that.

      And finally, I’ve always believed that work ethic is a huge part of becoming a major leaguer. The Prospect Industry focuses mostly on tools. The tool inside the head may be the most important. That tool doesn’t get rated. And that was the tool that made both Boggs and Mattingly superstars, when most evaluators didn’t think they would even become starters.

      So, you are right. Sometimes not being on the Top 100 list is right where you want your prospect to be. And I think Refsynder will prove that next year and the years to come.

      • Newspaperguy

        Thanks for that insight. I’d be interested to read whatever you have been writing about

        • JimmyToucan

          can we start with “poor defense won’t cost us games”? he wrote about that for two months.

  • Michael Pineddarda

    I don’t know why you would have been against organizational changes especially when it comes to developing starting pitching. Prior to this year the Yanks had one success in 20 years – Andy. Nova is still unknown. But now you have BGDP, Greene, Whitley have had success at the MLB level and none of these guys were top prospects. Delin and Warren have had success as relievers. Those other guys destroyed the careers of Joba and Hughes. I’ve always been in support of getting rid of them.

    • Rick

      Wang wasn’t a success?

      • WhittakerWalt

        It’s just Eddard, perpetuating the old “the Yankees destroyed Joba’s career” silliness.

  • ACX

    Really enjoy watching his starts.

  • fat toad

    I wonder
    what affect Larry Rothchild has had on some of these improvements/unexpected
    success stories (Greene, Betances, McCarthy, Phelphs, Pineda, etc…). He is the first real, experienced pitching
    coach we have had in a long while. Prior
    to that I think it was Guidry and Eiland; two guys with no previous
    experience. Rothchild has done an excellent
    job.

    • Newspaperguy

      I agree, I think not enough credit is given to the Yankees coaching staff in general. If you look around baseball, not many organizations have four top notch guys the way the Yanks have Girardi, Long, Rothchild, Pena

      • mitch

        not sure i’d lump Long with the other three.

        • Newspaperguy

          You could be right, but I don’t think the offensive failures are entirely his fault–its not because of him that McCann Soriano and Ellsbury haven’t been as effective as they could be

          But I also don’t think he should have been credited as a hitting guru back in the day considering he had guys like in their primes A-Rod, Teixiera, Jeter, Matsui, Cano. Sure he “fixed” Granderson’s swing, but his success could also have been because he finally adjusted to New York

          Point is, its hard to really evaluate how good a hitting coach is on a mostly veteran lineup considering veterans rarely make big changes. It would be different if the Yanks had a bunch of position players coming up the way they had pitchers

          • Rick

            I agree largely with your point, but I think people have to look more at Ellsbury’s career and adjust their expectations for him. By and large, he’s performing exactly the way we should have expected.

            • Newspaperguy

              Yeah, probably should have replaced Ellsbury with Beltran in that statement–completely forgot about that guy. I am excited for a Jeter-less lineup next year with Ellsbury leading off (where he should be) and Gardner batting second (where he should be) to see what are the real effects of having 2 guys like that at the top

            • Willkamm

              Yes, even his career averages based on a 162 game season are skewed upward by the 2011 season. I did not have very high expectations at all but he may have even done worse, so far, as even I expected. By and large thought most people really set their expectations for this guy much too high.

          • mitch

            I wasn’t trying to single out Long as a bad coach. Like you said, it’s not really something we can evaluate. I just didn’t think he belonged in the same group as an established coach like Rothchild.

        • Stevie Sacs

          I agree. Hes’ the outlier. Yanks should consider a change there. It’s time.

  • YankeeBill

    Perhaps we can find a hit ting version of Gil Patterson who might be able to teach some of these young, promising hitters how to beat shifts by driving the ball to the opposite field with authority. It is clear that Kevin Long, as evidenced by his recent comments, has no idea how to get that done with the hitters at the major league level. McCann and Teixeira are being killed by shifts. They can’t hit home runs every other at bat, so maybe an occasional line drive to the left of second base on the pitch that they can’t pull out of the yard?

    • ACX

      McCann was definitely trying that earlier this year. Tex said last year he wouldn’t do it because it throws off his game. Apparently his .230 batting average is enough for him.

  • JLC 776

    Crazy – I knew in the back of my head that Greene was doing well, but I had no real clue that his numbers were so solid at the moment and, frankly, trending to the positive (when you look at his past couple of years).

    Hopefully it’s more of the same as opposing hitters start to see him a second time.
    This is exactly the kind of reason why baseball is always so watchable to me. Even in a season that is mostly disappointing, there’s the chance that a random call-up to fill an injury slot can get you excited for the future. And not just excited for Greene alone, but the whole player development pipeline.

  • dougmash

    C’mon, we all know Greene can’t be for real, having missed the “Top 100″ prospects lists that Red Sox fan/writers have made. Mookie Betts and Jackie Bradley Jr. are going to be the next Yaz and Ted Williams though!

    • ACX

      Yeah short of the obvious stars, it’s all a crap shoot…. As long as you dont listen to the ESPN machine regarding every single Red Sox prospect, you will remain happy.

  • Bigdan

    I have no idea if this means anything, but a couple weeks ago I saw a Greene interview. He was asked point blank, what has changed? Why is his control so much better now than when he was in the minors? In his answer, Greene didn’t mention any coaching or mechanical adjustments. He said, I simply made a conscious decision that I’d rather give up a home run than walk someone.

    I interpret this as meaning he just decided to throw the ball right over the plate and not aim for the corners. If you watch him pitch, I don’t think he can throw a straight fastball. But what surprises me about Greene is his slider. He seems to throw two different sliders and different speeds but neither seems easy to hit. I thought I remember in years past his slider got hammered. Perhaps there have been some mechanical adjustments there. But as far as his fastball goes, I think Greene’s improvement was more mental than physical.

    • fat toad

      You sure that was Greene? I thought Whitely said that.

      • Bigdan

        Yes I am. With Whitley, the story was in connection with Phelps as I remember it. Phelps was quoted as saying he needs to be more aggressive in the strike zone like Whitley has been. That seemed to turn Phelps around a bit. That all occurred a few weeks before Greene.

    • http://riveraveblues.com Mike Axisa

      Saying you don’t want to walk someone and being physically able to do it are different things.

    • JimmyToucan

      after wailing for weeks about how defense doesn’t lose ball games, i find it hard to believe you have the slightest clue about what changed with Greene.

  • Jorge Steinbrenner

    The biggest problem with player development is that too many of us with a PC or phone feel like we can speak to it. We can make guesses. We can loosely connect dots. None of us can truly speak to what changes have worked, or what is needed…..no matter how great we claim our eyes are.

    I appreciate Mike’s tone here but, most of all, I REALLY appreciate Shane Greene thus far and hope he is able to build on this into 2015 and stays away from further injury.

    • Farewell Mo

      All we can comment on is the end results, not on the process since we have no clue about the process as you alluded to.

    • Chip

      Well the other problem is that in the internet age we have greater access to the farm system than we did before (unless you lived in a town where a minor league affiliate played) so now you can follow someone like Mason Williams all the way up and then get bitter about him stalling out in AA…where in the past there were always guys like that, we just never heard of them (with rare exceptions like Brien Taylor)

      • dkidd

        “if there is anything unique about the human animal it is that it has the ability to grow knowledge at an accelerating rate while being chronically incapable of learning from experience”

        john gray

      • Jorge Steinbrenner

        Which leads to all sorts of ghastly conclusions being made, most of them by yanks101.

        • Chip

          It’s true. I don’t think anyone got all up in arms about the Yankees failing to develop Shea Morenz.

          • Jorge Steinbrenner

            I love DOTF. It doesn’t make me an expert on how the minor league system operates. I probably know about *this* much more than I did ten years ago.

  • Bigdan

    This has been written about before in connection with Cardinal player development. There needs to be consistency in philosophy throughout the organization. I don’t think you can have some guy in High A teaching the Charlie Lau hitting approach and another coach in AA preaching something different. I’m really not sure how much actual teaching occurs on the major league level, but as players, especially hitters, move up the ladder, I think the message needs to be consistent.

    • cr1

      If the same approach worked with every youngster, that would be quite true. But imo different approaches benefit different learners (of anything) and moving through a system that offers different takes is going to give a variety of kids the opportunity to learn from someone whose approach may be a fit, while a lockstep approach may leave out a lot of guys. Just a thought.

    • Chien Ming The Merciless

      I like your thinking Bigdan. I wonder how many other organizations have consistent philosophy through out.

      Do you then draft according to who might fit the philosophy? Or maybe fit a square beg into a round hole (like the diamondbacks asking McCarthy to ditch his cutter).

  • Farewell Mo

    Good work with Greene cutting down on the walks. Too bad they couldn’t do the same thing with Phil Hughes who cut his BB by 2/3rd with the Twins and is having a kick ass year with an FIP of 2.61 and 4.7 WAR already. It’s not just changing home field’s either for Hughes with an FIP of 2.15 on the road vs. 3.10 at home for the Twins.

    • ACX

      Hughes is definitely having a good year, but kick ass? 3.76 ERA, more hits than innings pitched….. Like we knew, the Homeruns would be down in Minny…. Good, definitely better than we were used to, but lets not get crazy.

      • Farewell Mo

        4.7 WAR is 5th in MLB (among pitchers)
        2.61 FIP is 6th in MLB
        3.24 xFIP is 20th in MLB

        He’s easily pitching like a #2 starter this year. That looks pretty kick ass to me.

        • Willkamm

          You could add in he is 1st in K/BB at 9.33. He’s only walked .9 batters per nine innings. Different pitcher to me. I thought my eyes were deceiving me when I saw he’d only walked 15 batters this season.

          • JimmyToucan

            pitching in a big park might lead to less nibbling, whereas pitching in YS3 he was always worried about it going over the fence. nibble>>>>miss strikes>>>>throw one over to get back in the count>>>>>HR.

            now…. is this who he is now, or is there an ugly regression on the way? either way he stunk in NY.

    • Stevie Sacs

      With Hughes I think there was a mental aspect as well. By his own admission he feels more at ease in Minny.

    • Deep Thoughts

      Phil says: confidence from bigger stadium, shelving the slider, throwing the curve with greater velocity and deception (same release point as FB), and using the cutter as a back-door putaway pitch to lefties.

      http://www.fangraphs.com/blogs.....ing-balls/

  • PunkPitch

    Starving for some kind of feel good story with bite, Mike reaches on a pitcher with little pedigree, on a hot run. In the end, the flavor of the day may very likely taste of Chase Whitley.

    • mitch

      entirely possible, but there’s no question Greene has the better pure stuff.

    • http://riveraveblues.com Mike Axisa

      Nope.

    • JimmyToucan

      is it a hot run or is it because he actually has good stuff, and so long as he maintains command it’s not really hard to see why he could be successful.

      movement to both sides of the plate? check.
      not afraid to throw strikes? check.
      good but not waiting to fall off a cliff velocity? check.
      still room to get better? check.

      son of a bitch.

  • Tar

    “That ability to harness his stuff and throw consistent strikes has taken Greene from interesting prospect to bonafide MLB rotation member.”

    I find interesting that “the ability to harness his stuff and throw consistent strikes” makes Greene a “bonafide rotation member”, yet Dellin is still just a “failed” starter, pen guy, with no future as a stater. SMH

    If they don’t try him as a starter next year, they are even dumber than I thought…..

    • http://riveraveblues.com Mike Axisa

      Betances can’t throw consistent strikes as a starter. I don’t know how it could be any more obvious.

      • Mandy Stankiewicz

        I think you just got trolled, Mike. There’s no way this is sincere.

        • JimmyToucan

          it’s not trolling it’s the pitching scouts from the hud. amazing when you know so much without a doubt that you don’t actually work in baseball. must be nice to live in a holiday inn express.

          • Tar

            More snark, this place is a snarky posters wet dream.

            • Jorge Steinbrenner

              Yes, it is. Nothing wrong with that. We’re on the right track, baby, we were born this way.

            • JimmyToucan

              was i responding to you? no?

              if you don’t like it, you can always leave…. that’s what i was told at the hud for not towing the line.

            • YakaTanaka

              You are pretty snarky yourself. If you didn’t take such a ridiculously hard line on this issue, I don’t think people would respond with such a hard line. If you just said… the Yankees should really consider Betances for the rotation next season and made your case… I think most people would be fine with it. But you are wildly flailing around calling people idiots and making it seem like what is really one possibility is the only possibility.

              You also aren’t supporting your conclusion. You are supporting a conclusion that he might work out as a starter, but you seem to be dead set that he will work out and attack most people who question that.

          • Tar

            And BTW the pitching coach I am going to link to is Patterson.

        • Jorge Steinbrenner

          I don’t agree with Tar at all on this, but he’s been pretty consistent that this is his opinion since he got here. We’re not being trolled. He’s just doubling down on something I think he’s waaaaaaay wrong on.

          • Mandy Stankiewicz

            I honestly thought this was a tongue-in-cheek comment — “look happened with Greene! Dellin’s next for 2015!”

      • Tar

        Did they tweak Dellin’s mechanics like they tweaked Geene’s? Why can it work for one guy, but not another?

        • TWTR

          It’s possible that adjustments could have been made a few years ago, but that ship has sailed as far as the Yankees are concerned.

          • Tar

            BS. He had 5 starts after they changed his mechanics. The last of which was 5 no hit innings.

            • TWTR

              It’s BS that the Yankees have made up their mind that he isn’t going to be converted into a starter again, because that is all I am saying.

              • Tar

                Sorry. It’s a PIA, to try and read and respond on this phone

                • ACX

                  It doesn’t really matter. At the moment, he is way more valuable where he is. The starting pitching is not the issue now. Without him in the 7th and 8th inning, we won’t get the ball to Robertson. And he will end up in something like 80-90 games by the end of the year, vs. 30 as a starter.

                  • Tar

                    I agree it’s too late to change this year. Which is why I said they really have to try him starting “next “year.

                    • ACX

                      I would agree. Obviously it’s contingent on resigning Robertson…

            • JimmyToucan

              5 no hit innings…. well that settles it. FIVE!

              • Tar

                That’s all you got is snark? Whatever

                • JimmyToucan

                  i’ve had much more to say, but the 5 inning comment didn’t deserve much else, did it? let’s take small sample sizes to the extreme and gleam some truth there right? right.

        • http://riveraveblues.com Mike Axisa

          They didn’t change his mechanics, only his role. Also, tweaking one guy’s mechanics doesn’t mean it will work for another.

          • Tar

            That’s crazy Mike, of course they changed his mechanics. I’m on my stupid phone or I would provide links for you. Not only did they change his mechanics , but the FO was split on their decision to send him to the pen. He went to the pen so they could “get some value” out of him because he was out of options …. Except he wasn’t out of options.

            • Rick

              How about the fact that Betances has said on numerous occassions that the move to the bullpen essentially saved him as a pitcher. Time and time again, he has credited the move to the pen as the best thing that’s happened to him. He said himself he couldn’t consistently repeat his delivery as a starter for 100 pitches and that the move to the bullpen has made it mentally easier for him.

              • JimmyToucan

                there was a Q&A posted at one of the AA bolgs with Franklin, who went on to say his issue was mostly mental… that he’d fall apart in the middle of a game. it was confirmed by betances and subsequently ignored as it didn’t fit the narrative.

              • Tar

                This is false. Dellin pleaded to stay a starter.

                • Rick

                  So because you make something up it becomes true? “I began to feel comfortable. It’s allowed me to be more consistent in my delivery. It’s a different feeling coming out of the bullpen. It’s allowed me to be more aggressive.”
                  “I was putting too much pressure on myself”
                  “At first I was bummed,’’ Betances said of move to the bullpen last season at Triple-A. “The bullpen feels good now, all I want to do is wear the pinstripes and the grays on the road. I’m cool with that.”

                • Scott

                  Except what Rick said is true. I read the article that Betances said the move to the pen helped him. I read nothing that says he “pleaded to remain a starter.”

          • Tar

            Doesn’t mean it won’t work either. In fact Dellin should be an even bigger example of the Yankees doing something correct with pitcher development than Greene.

            • YakaTanaka

              I don’t think many reasonable people will disagree with you that there’s a chance that it might work for Betances. You seem to be insisting that it will work and they are idiots for not making it work… I think that’s what is turning reasonable people off.

          • JimmyToucan

            pretty sure they changed his stride, which would be part of his mechanics if i’m not mistaken. was covered when he got demoted to trenton by the beat writers there. the interview was either at minor matters or thunder thoughts.

            whether that was *it* or not, to say they didn’t change anything mechanically would be false.

        • mitch

          They spent 7 years trying to get Betances to throw strikes as a starter. I’m sure they tweaked a few things along the way.

        • YakaTanaka

          “Why can it work for one guy, but not another?”

          Take a second to think about that. Scarcity is the essence of competition. If you could teach everyone to do something well, there would be no value in that skill. If every strong kid who can throw in the mid-90s could become an MLB SP with a few mechanical tweaks… the game wouldn’t be as popular as it is and those players wouldn’t be making what they are. (Granted… people still watch reality TV and in many cases the talent is questionable there…)

      • randy l.

        why not contact gil patterson and ask him what he thinks about betances as a starter ?
        then you’d have a professional opinion from a really good developmental pitching coach who’s not an amateur like yourself, me, or the other people on this blog.

        • W.B. Mason Williams

          They had 7 years of professional developmental pitching coaches working with him.

          I’m not really sure how much more rope you can give a guy to figure it out. That’s probably 3 or 4 years more than most get.

        • Farewell Mo

          I’m sure the Yankees turned over every stone trying to develop Betances into a starter.

          • Tar

            That’s a joke. He’s in the pen because he’s out of options, except he’s not.

            It’s been fun, but back to work.

            • W.B. Mason Williams

              Burden of evidence is on you, and you’ve shown nothing.

            • Mandy Stankiewicz

              “Brian Cashman announced today, much to the surprise of most, that Betances has a fourth option and can be sent to the minors for one more season. This fourth option stems from a rare rule that allows a player that has five or fewer professional seasons who has already used up three options to have one additional option year.”

              So, after his move to the pen last year this option was available for this year. So why after a year of a turn around in his career would he be sent down to change his role in a do-or-die year to becomes a starter for 2015?

      • YakaTanaka

        Arguing that he can never succeed as a starter in the future is as silly as arguing that he should definitely be used as a starter in the future…

    • Preston

      Greene started throwing strikes as a starter. That is significantly different than starting to throw strikes out of the pen. Betances went from being a four pitch guy to a two pitch guy and says that pitching more than every fifth day helps keep his mechanics in line. He was given every chance to try to figure it out as a starter. It didn’t happen, be happy with what he is, which is freaking excellent.

      • Tar

        There is so much disinformation about this subject that all I can do is shake my head. When I get home tonight I will provide links on the open thread.

        • JimmyToucan

          well hopefully you’ll include the quotes from dellin, and not a conveniently modified version that was posted over at the Hud over and over and over.

          • Tar

            I will provide a link to a newspaper article, that I have posted on this site previously.

        • Preston

          What misinformation. He was a failed starter, they moved him to the bullpen, he throws two pitches now instead of four. Most people go with the stupid what harm could it do line, and the answer is ruin their career, look at Daniel Bard, look at Neftali Feliz. Lets just be happy with what Betances is.

          • YakaTanaka

            It might not work out, it might work out. There are a ton of factors to consider, and no important decision is ever risk free (leaving him in the pen is also not risk free… and certainly not opportunity cost free).

            Listing two examples that didn’t work out is not much more convincing an argument than whatever Tar is trying to argue. Especially when the list of RP–>SP conversions that did work out is dozens long and includes HOF types. And when those guys may have gotten injured if they were left in the pen as well.

    • Mandy Stankiewicz

      From RAB, his delivery (as well as his minor league injuries) has been the entire conversation of his development.

      “Unfortunately, the now 25-year-old Betances has made very little improvement in those seven years. The 6-foot-8, 260-pounder still struggles to repeat his delivery because he isn’t a great athlete, and the result has been just awful strike-throwing ability. In almost 600 career minor league innings, he owns a 4.9 BB/9 and 12.4 BB%. Last season it was 6.8 BB/9 and 15.7 BB%, which is why he was demoted from Triple-A Scranton to Double-A Trenton at midseason.

      During the first month of this season, there was still no improvement. Betances walked 16 batters in 24 innings across his first six starts (6.0 BB/9 and 15.0 BB), which prompted the team to move him to the bullpen full-time. Brian Cashman admitted the move had as much to do with Betances’ lack of minor league options — he used his final option this year, meaning he will not be able to go to Triple-A without first passing through waivers starting in 2014 — as it did his poor performance.”

      http://riveraveblues.com/2013/.....pen-88897/

      • Tar

        Yeah I can provide a link with a Patterson interview painting a different picture.

        But what you posted above”

        “Brian Cashman admitted the move had as much to do with Betances’ lack of minor league options — he used his final option this year, meaning he will not be able to go to Triple-A without first passing through waivers starting in 2014 — as it did his poor performance.” Is wrong because it turns out he did have an option.

      • JimmyToucan

        and then it was revealed that he had another option year…. so?

        • Mandy Stankiewicz

          My point was the first paragraph. I think I left too much in there.

          • JimmyToucan

            ya that threw me off a bit, as having the extra option year gave them incentive to let him roll, which they didn’t.

    • Chip

      sigh – I thought the destruction of the Lohud blog and rescued us from this conversation.

      • RhapsodyInBlue

        Heaven forbid this discussion never ends, and the same people.

        • Tar

          If you don’t see the connection between what was posted above and Dellin’s situation you are not as smart as I thought you are.

          • Mandy Stankiewicz

            I think your Gershwin inspired name is very intellectual, RhapsodyInBlue.

          • JimmyToucan

            how smart could one be that continues to ignore all the information that points in another direction?

            i mean…. it was pretty sweet how the article that was brought up on the hud regarding Dellin got so convoluted it would have taken an act of congress to dig the hole deeper, but it doesn’t change what came out of his mouth.

            “hey Dellin…would you prefer to make three times as much money working as a starter?

            but he WANTS it!

      • Farewell Mo

        Never underestimate the LoHudians capacity to turn the comment section of any article into a cesspool.

        • Willkamm

          Agreed, but at least it’s not meaning less dribble about their personal lives or endless, childish, photo shopping. It’s like they do it intentionally to screw up the blog. It’s either that or they are so childishly self centered they can’t help themselves.

          • UnKnown

            They’re self centered. And childish but that is of course stating the obvious.

            The need ti tell everyone what they are doing at all times as if somebody realky gives a damn is quite comical

        • Eric MacLaurin

          How often do you make comments about the Yankees instead of complaining like a little girl?

          Idiots like you that have been here for a couple of years and think you own the place need to go.

          I was here well before you showed your ugly mug

          • YakaTanaka

            Making sexist, rude comments is a poor way to make a point.

            • Eric MacLaurin

              I’ll let you try to impress with your prose but my point was very clear.

              I’m tired of the people who turned this into their private bar over the last few years and think they can keep the conversation at the lowbrow level they feel comfortable with.

              I’m even more tired of jokers that complain incessantly about off topic posts as though these are somehow on topic because they are defending the purity of the forum as they know it.

              • YakaTanaka

                Dude, you called someone a little girl. You are the one making lowbrow comments.

                • Eric MacLaurin

                  Do you struggle with general reading comprehension or are you locked up somewhere with nothing to do?

                  I didn’t call anyone a little girl. I said he acted like a little girl. I have to hope your education advanced enough for you to tell the difference since you appear to be able to write.

                  I’ll agree it’s a lowbrow comment but so what? I wasn’t saying I didn’t fall to your level on occasion and when you talk to people it’s easier to communicate if you get down on their level.

                  What I was referring to is you, and your posse coming in here and trying to drive out anyone that doesn’t converse in a manner you approve. Acting like you own the place and have a right to manage the conversation.

                  I was complaining about losers who are so unaware of themselves that they spend all day off topic complaining about other posters they don’t agree with because they don’t have the mental capacity to argue the points they don’t agree with.

                  People need to ignore the people they don’t like and shut up if they don’t have anything to say about the Yankees or baseball. This isn’t your living room. You aren’t needed here.

    • YakaTanaka

      Betances has been a RP for all of a year and half… calm down.

  • Eric MacLaurin

    It takes very little to make big changes and the moves to be made were the Pattersons and Rothschilds who were not only good but came from good systems with a lot of ideas and the all out IFA spend in conjunction with the college heavy draft. The system is packed and we have good people running it the right way. Hopefully they’ll continue to realize they aren’t doing it quite right and continue to look to improve.

    I do have to say that the PED issue is very big with the pitching. Hitters just aren’t as dangerous. Not only can pitchers be more confident throwing strikes but a lot of pitchers that simply couldn’t function in an environment where any good contact is a home run can now end up being excellent pitchers.

    • YankeeBill

      Excellent point. I think even more than steroids the abolition of amphetamines has had a major effect on offense. The chemist that can invent a safe and legal product that had the same results as greenies did is going to be a billionaire. Another thing to consider in the next collective bargaining agreement is perhaps expanding the rosters to 26 players so that position players can get the rest they require. Doubt it will happen, since that would result in at least a $15 million increase in labor costs (figuring 30 players making the minimum), but it might help improve the quality of the game.

  • Farewell Mo

    Greene probably had no motivation to pitch well in the minors since he was probably demoralized after the Yankees signed Tanaka and Kuroda to FA deals blocking his path.

    • Macho Man “Randy Levine”

      Montero motivational joke?

      • Deep Thoughts

        This is a callback to a fractured line of thinking expressed this weekend: Minor leaguers (pre- and post-draft) and IFAs explicitly avoid the Yankees organization, or once in, resignedly slack on their development, out of frustration at being buried behind pro free-agent signings. I think the assertion was made that some minor leaguers should or would demand trades.

        • JimmyToucan

          while the *entire* premise was a reach, none of us can say that having a couple of guys who never miss games and are ingrained into the organization wouldn’t have a negative effect down the line. whether it results in poor performance, the desire to get moved somewhere that there’s a better chance, or nothing at all, i doubt anyone here is close enough to the org to be able to say one way or another.

          • Deep Thoughts

            The point made was that minor leaguers under team control don’t have a lot of say in where they end up, except by excelling, thus perhaps forcing the organization to play them or move them as trade assets. One thing for sure is that sulking or “demanding trades” or acting demoralized is not going to produce a good result.

      • Farewell Mo

        No, a joke on the Castillo thread the other day when a couple were insisting minor leaguers don’t try as hard and will demand trades, among other things when the Yankees sign Free agents.

        • YakaTanaka

          The best was that it hurts them in signing amateur players… stated the same year they signed something like 1/3 of BA’s top 30 IFAs.

          • Farewell Mo

            Lol. You gotta think long and hard to come up with something that stupid.

    • JimmyToucan

      that doesn’t really fit for pitchers like it did with guys standing behind jeter, cano, arod and teix five years ago.

      on one hand you can argue that if a major roadblock gets you down you don’t deserve to be there, on the other we can remember for a hot second that these kids, while wildly talented, are still human.

      • Farewell Mo

        I was being facetious. That narrative about “roadblocks” affecting the development of minor leaguers is total BS IMO.

        • JimmyToucan

          i don’t think you know any more than the rest of us how or if it affects those players. you are welcome to throw it out the window as BS, but unless you’ve been there you’re guessing with the rest of us.

          • YakaTanaka

            Not sure that “being there” would particularly help. Only if you think it’s an all-or-nothing kind of thing where every person is motivated by the exact same things in the exact same ways.

            At the same time… You don’t need to play minor league baseball to understand the basics of human nature. The idea that most players would stop helping themselves because someone else one to six levels above him is getting paid more money just flies in the face of logic. It has very little to do with the actual prospect’s motivation. The formula remains play well, develop your skills = get promoted to a higher level where you’ll get more money and play better baseball. That really doesn’t change at all for anyone outside of a AAA prospect knocking on the door. And even then… that he would stop trying to impress the Yankees for a bench role or other teams for a trade/later… it just flies in the face of what the key motivating factors are for prospects.

            The Yankees haven’t had a bunch of AAA prospects earn MLB looks, not get them, and stop playing well. I really can’t see much of any evidence that supports the notion that being blocked has hurt Yankees prospects besides the ridiculous arguments people make about draft picks not wanting to sign with them or IFAs… right after they signed like 1/3 of all the top IFAs… the evidence just isn’t there.

            • YakaTanaka

              Also… prospects who are so mentally fragile and/or have such motivational issues might not make it to MLB anyway. Teams can’t do nothing but baby these guys their entire careers. They’ve got to deal with the challenges any one does in life.

  • JimmyToucan

    “So Dellin, what you’re saying is, that pitching more frequently helped your focus and mechanics, that going to the bullpen has turned your career around?”

    “ayup.”

    “but wouldn’t you rather start?”

    “who wouldn’t?!?!?!?! do you see their paychecks?????”

    case closed…. Dellin wants to be a starter again. Glory Hallejlohud.

  • The Billy MartinVanBuren Boys

    Regardless of any conversation below, or what happens to Greene in the future for that matter, its a pretty cool story. Takes some balls, at least in my opinion, to ask a scout, from the Yankees no less, who is at your old high school watching someone ELSE, to take a look at you. His boldness paid off and being the best pitcher on a big league club for even a short amount of time is something he can be proud of for years to come.

    • Frodo

      I’m not sure it was so much boldness as it was simple desperation.

  • JUNEBUG®?

    Give this guy some ROTY votes!

  • YakaTanaka

    It’s kind of hard to be unhappy with something you know almost nothing about… Not really sure how you seem to understand that you know nothing about the audit or the changes made, yet continue to insist you are unhappy. Every time a consulting firm goes in and analyzes a company’s short-comings, they don’t necessarily recommend personnel changes. There are many systems, processes, and practices that can be changed and resources that can be acquired or built without changing management.

    I’ve made this argument before… but I believe that this has a lot to do with a bunch of baseball fans subconsciously confusing the front office with the roster. Obviously not literally confusing the two, but confusing the nature of the two. If your team isn’t winning… outside of some really bad luck, about the only way to change their fortunes is to change the talent on the roster. On the margins guys put it all together in a new environment, but generally a player is either talented or he’s not… talent is just so scarce that only so many players pass the threshold. The nature of a baseball front office is a lot different. Good talent can be experiencing bad results for a number of reasons. Luck plays an enormous role and the sample size does not get big enough for results to normalize for years and years. Bad processes could misalign resources so that they’re not being deployed effectively and efficiently towards the overall organizational goals. Bad practices could be leading to suboptimal decisions within good practices. Let’s say you realize that you are behind in the best practices being implemented by some other teams… you may be able to hire away some of their top staff… but you may also just have to try to benchmark and build the capabilities yourself.