Game 116: Severino’s Biggest Test

(Presswire)
(Presswire)

This series has gone quite well for the Yankees so far. They won Friday’s game in dramatic come-from-behind fashion, then won Saturday’s game because their ace pitched like a damn ace. They go for the sweep of the suddenly quiet Blue Jays — where’d all the Jose Bautista sound bites go? — this afternoon.

On the mound is rookie righty Luis Severino, who will be making his third career start. This will be his first major test. Yeah, the Red Sox and Indians have okay offenses, but the Blue Jays are on a different level entirely. They’re the best offense in the game, especially at home, where they average 5.52 runs per game. Here is Toronto’s lineup and here is New York’s lineup:

  1. CF Jacoby Ellsbury
  2. LF Brett Gardner
  3. DH Alex Rodriguez
  4. 1B Mark Teixeira
  5. C Brian McCann
  6. RF Carlos Beltran
  7. 3B Chase Headley
  8. SS Didi Gregorius
  9. 2B Stephen Drew
    RHP Luis Severino

It is nice and sunny in Toronto this afternoon, so the Rogers Centre roof should be open. This afternoon’s game will begin at 1:07pm ET and you can watch on YES. Enjoy the game.

Injury Update: Ivan Nova (finger) threw in the bullpen today and everything went well. The swelling has gone down significantly after he was hit by the hard-hit grounder the other night. Nova expects to make his next start.

Guest Post: Frankie Crosetti: Historically Underperformed and Under-Respected

The following is a guest post from longtime RAB reader Adam Moss, who you know as Roadgeek Adam from the comments. He’s previously written guest posts about umpire Tim McClelland and uniform No. 26.

Crosetti. (Getty)
Crosetti. (Getty)

For several decades from the 1920s to the 1960s, Frankie Crosetti was a household name for the New York Yankees, serving numerous different roles, including starting shortstop and third base coach. Crosetti historically was not the best batter the Yankees had during the early dynasty years, but the young man from San Francisco fit right in with the likes of Babe Ruth, Lou Gehrig, Tony Lazzeri and Bill Dickey under manager Joe McCarthy. Offensively, he was in his prime from his debut in 1932 at age 21 to his age 29 season in 1940. In that time period, the Yankee dynasty had racked up 5 World Series rings (1932, 1936, 1937, 1938 and 1939) while Crosetti served as the starting shortstop for the Yankees.

However, in this day and age, Crosetti is almost completely forgotten but in the form of historical records. Crosetti’s teammates from many World Series: Ruth, Gehrig, Lazzeri, Dickey, Lefty Gomez and Red Ruffing are all in Monument Park in one way or another (with their numbers retired or with just a plaque). By the time Crosetti left the Yankee organization in 1969 to join the Seattle Pilots (now the Milwaukee Brewers), he had racked up 17 World Series rings in 23 tries, which is more than even Yogi Berra had ever gotten (13/21). Crosetti is not in Monument Park and no one has seemed to make an argument to why he does not deserve induction. Monument Park isn’t just for retired numbers of Yankee greats but for the greatest of the Yankees and those who serve the franchise in a major fashion. This article is about the argument over the reasons why Crosetti does and does not deserve his induction.

His Tenure

Crosetti first played Minor League Baseball for the Pacific Coast League team in San Francisco until his contract was acquired by the Yankees on August 23, 1930 for a player to be named later and three other players. The player to be named later ended up being Julie Wera, a third baseman and the very first No. 20, which will be inducted in Monument Park later this month for Jorge Posada. Crosetti’s first season for the Yankees was 1932, in which he was paid a grand total of $8,000. Only age 21 at the time, he hit a meager .241/.335/.374/.709.

Twice an All-Star (1936 and 1939), Crosetti’s best year arguably would be 1938. That season, Crosetti played a MLB high 157 games and set a then-record 757 plate appearances with 166 hits, 9 HRs and 55 RBI as well as a .263/.382/.371/.752 slash line. However, the negatives to those numbers, he set a major league high in 97 Ks (he had 106 walks in return) and stole 27 bases, also a season high for the league. Crosetti also has a MLB high 15 HBPs, a thing he learned quite well from Manager Joe McCarthy. That year, he finished a measly 29th in the MVP voting, which went to Jimmie Foxx of the Red Sox.

After that peak in 1938, he was able to set high numbers in HBPs, PA and at-bats for 1939, but his numbers were visibly declining. After hitting .263 the last season, Crosetti’s average dropped to only .233. By 1940, the numbers became even worse, when in 145 games; he hit an absolutely terrible .194/.299/.273/.572. The Yankees finally had enough and had the next best thing coming in 1941 in a young shortstop prospect named Phil Rizzuto. Rizzuto was intended to replace Crosetti in 1940, and some article we would’ve won the 1940 American League Pennant with Rizzuto, who hit .347 in AA.

1941 was the year. Crosetti was relegated to a bench player and only appeared in 50 games as a utility infielder, and while his numbers went up to a respectable .223 (and a 31st place spot in the MVP voting!), it clearly was the end. For 1942, 1943, and 1944, Crosetti was a bench player, but managed to get into 95 games in 1943 (another WS year) and hit only .233. 1945 was a bit unusual because he got into 130 games and only managed a .238 batting average. A lot of the extra playing time from 1943-45 was due to the fact that his replacement, Phil Rizzuto had spent all three years fighting in combat for World War II. Once Rizzuto returned from action, Crosetti went to backup status and after missing most of the 1947 season, he went from 1946 to 1948 participating in a grand total of 48 games, which he had only 1 HBP (his strength) and a .284 average in 86 plate appearances.

After 1948, Crosetti went from a player to a coach (he had been a player/coach in 1947), and became the third base coach for the Yankees. The longest-tenured third base coach in Yankee history (1948-1968), he coached during the Yankees best years with Casey Stengel at the helm and thanks to Joe McCarthy, he took the skills taught by the great manager and brought it to generations of Yankees and the front office absolutely loved it. Crosetti decided to leave the Yankees in 1968 for the new Seattle Pilots that had been established through expansion, but only lasted the year in Seattle because he had many differences in ways of doing things than Jim Bouton, a pitcher for the Pilots.

After coaching for the Minnesota Twins, Crosetti hung up the spikes for good and retired to Stockton, California. He never did appear at an Old Timers’ Day for the Yankees, but did make his fair share of appearances (especially when the Yankees were in Oakland) before passing away in 2002 at the age of 91.

So Why Am I Telling You This?

The reason I wrote this article is I got interested in the fact Crosetti is basically forgotten for someone who has 17 World Series rings and 23 appearances. On paper, that would get you a Hall of Fame nod, but there’s much more than on paper that needs to be examined here. As I mentioned in the intro, Frankie Crosetti’s name is not in Monument Park, the place of the greatest Yankees who ever played, coached or managed the team. If you asked old-time Yankees if Crosetti was a vital part of their success, they’d probably say yes, but statistics can argue away a lot of the personal love.

Let’s start with the blatantly obvious problem. Crosetti spent 16 years as a Yankee player (1932-48), but in 1,683 games, he basically produced a meager 83 OPS+ and only a .245 batting average. Those numbers would never get you in the Hall of Fame and I expect that wouldn’t get you into Monument Park in this day and age short of some abnormalities. SABRmetrics are a little kinder to Crosetti, but even that’s a bit pushing it. He had a 19.9 oWAR (using Baseball-Reference’s WAR) and a 14.2 dWAR. His overall WAR from 1932-48 was only 23.9, which the true stars can manage in one or two seasons at times. Also, while being a figurehead leader, he was not always a big factor in the team’s performance. In games he appeared in, the Yankees only had a .501 winning percentage. That’s not exactly the “I can change the direction of games” player. This is despite the amount of World Series rings won in that time. As a player, if you read the statistics alone, Monument Park has no place for Crosetti, but to base it only on statistics as a player would be poor judgement.

As I’ve mentioned, Crosetti became a third base coach in 1948 for the Yankees. He coached for six managers (McCarthy, Bucky Harris, Stengel, Ralph Houk, Yogi Berra and Johnny Keane). Waving home over 16,000 runners, Crosetti arguably was the cornerstone of the Yankees franchise who wasn’t a player named Mantle or Berra. Crosetti was always a person who was fashioned a leader, he would be awake early in the morning and always the first to the clubhouse and made sure that players weren’t always slouching or doing something wrong. He basically was an honest coach, including a famous issue with infielder Phil Linz, who was playing a harmonica during a losing streak and it caused chaos on the Yankees team bus. When the Yankees brought up a new player, the Yankees turned to Crosetti to make sure they were guided well and would give a pamphlet that discussed what to do as a Yankee and as a ballplayer. This even turned into a youth player book in 1966 published as “Frank Crosetti’s Secrets of Baserunning and Infield Play”.

As a coach, Crosetti was the rock who was always present to work on my generations of Yankees of the past and future. When he headed off to Seattle in 1969, his No. 2, which he wore, was not retired on his choice, but rather given to the next flashy player. At the time that player was Jerry Kenney, an infield prospect who made his MLB debut in 1967. In 1969, Crosetti’s 2 was given to Kenney, but it didn’t really work out for the infielder, who had pretty poor years in New York, hitting only .234 from 1969-1972. By 1973, he was in Cleveland and by 1974, out of the game completely. Obviously, the No. 2 has been given in good hands since then in the form of Bobby Murcer and the Captain, Derek Jeter. As a coach, you can see enough service to the Yankees that he deserved his spot in Monument Park as Mel Stottlemyre Sr. does now. While that’s comparing apples to oranges, the reason I compare it is because they were both career Yankees who always felt like there was something a little missing if you ask me.

Conclusion

One issue that was brought up to me when discussing my idea for this article was why would they bother at this point? Yes, Crosetti’s been dead for 13 years now and not in the organization since 1968. However, the Yankees under the George Steinbrenner administration put Red Ruffing in Monument Park with a plaque of his own, 18 years after his death. With the recent trend of installing historic players on Old Timer’s Day (Rich Gossage, Willie Randolph & Mel Stottlemyre), it seems only fair you could use this as a chance to break the trend and get “The Crow” where he belongs, a plaque in Monument Park emphasizing you don’t have to be a great player to be a Yankee.

DotF: Foley, Palladino, Acevedo all dominate on the mound

Bad news for an ex-Yankees farmhand: OF Ramon Flores suffered a compound fracture in his ankle and is done for the year, reports Greg Johns. He missed a big chunk of time with ankle problems last year, but not a fracture. Flores had been raking in Triple-A (216 wRC+ in 14 games) since being traded for Dustin Ackley and was in line for a September call-up. Sucks. That’s an opportunity (and a month of big league pay) lost. Get well soon, Ramon.

Also, Brian Cashman told Billy Witz the Yankees recently held RHP Andrew Bailey back from an appearance at Triple-A Scranton in case they needed to call him up. That didn’t happen, but I bet Bailey comes up when rosters expand in September. The team has an open 40-man roster spot after designating Chris Capuano for assignment earlier today. Capuano, by the way, told George King he’ll rejoin the Triple-A rotation if he clears waivers.

Triple-A Scranton (3-2 loss to Rochester)

  • CF Ben Gamel: 1-3, 1 2B, 1 BB, 1 K — 43 extra-base hits on the year, which is a career-high … he had 40 back in 2013
  • 2B Rob Refsnyder & C Gary Sanchez: both 0-4, 1 K
  • 3B Jose Pirela: 1-4
  • RF Aaron Judge: 1-4, 1 R, 3 K
  • LF Slade Heathcott: 2-4, 1 R, 1 2B, 1 RBI — also robbed a homer, which you can see in the video above … came into the game in a 2-for-33 (.061) slump
  • 1B Austin Romine: 1-4, 1 2B, 1 K — guess he’s going to see most of his time at first base the rest of the season
  • RHP Kyle Davies: 6.1 IP, 5 H, 3 R, 1 ER, 0 BB, 4 K, 1 WP, 6/5 GB/FB — 57 of 86 pitches were strikes (66%)
  • RHP Branden Pinder: 1.2 IP, 1 H, 0 R, 0 ER, 0 BB, 3 K, 1 Balk, 1/1 GB/FB — 14 of 21 pitches were strikes (67%) … 35/10 K/BB in 33.1 innings at Triple-A this year

[Read more…]

Saturday Night Open Thread

ESPN recently ran an E:60 piece on Chase That Golden Thunder, the late Double-A Trenton bat dog, his son Derby and grandson Rookie, who have carried on the family business. If you’ve never been to a game in Trenton, the bat dogs are such a blast. The crowd loves ’em. The E:60 piece is pretty neat and heartwarming. Check it out. The video is embedded above.

Here is tonight’s open thread. The Mets are playing and FOX Sports 1 will show some games as well. Lots of baseball tonight. There are also some preseason NFL games on, if that’s your thing. Talk about those games, the bat dog video, this afternoon’s win, or anything else right here.

Masahiro comes up masterful, Yankees take two straight from the Blue Jays with a 4-1 victory

That shadow (Source: Getty)

Can’t overstate how big of a win this is — the Yankees defeated the Blue Jays 4-1 to gain another game on their first place lead in the AL East. The bats delivered some pop while Masahiro Tanaka pitched one of the finest games of his ML career. New York also took the series in enemy’s territory, so that’s pretty cool too.

Early offense attempts

Carlos Beltran did it again – in the first inning, against Marco Estrada, Beltran drove a high fastball over the right field fence for a 1-0 lead. Estrada, by the way, has a 31.9% ground ball rate, which is really, really low. He’s just done a much better job at keeping the ball in the park (0.95 HR/9) than he used to (1.73 HR/9 last year, for instance).

(Source: Getty)

Top third, with one out, Jacoby Ellsbury hit a deep triple to right to set up a scoring situation for Brett Gardner. Gardner, however, struck out after being fooled badly by Estrada’s three straight changeups (that at-bat looked like a clinic for “how to make hitters look really bad with your changeup”). Beltran walked on four pitches but Teixeira bloop-lined out softly to end the inning. Up until the top of sixth, the Yankee offense didn’t have that much going against Estrada.

Maestro Masahiro

Meanwhile on the pitching side, this was probably the biggest Yankee start to date for Tanaka and boy, he showed up. The righty delivered a one-run CG, striking out eight and allowing only five hits. This was a truly ace-like performance, especially with the bullpen quite spent after the past few games.

His start wasn’t without a dent or two; Tanaka started the fifth by walking Ryan Goins on four pitches. He then allowed a slap single to Ben Revere and another four-pitch walk to Troy Tulowitzki to load the bases with no out. This is the definition of not what you want, especially with Josh Donaldson coming up.

After falling behind 2-0 to an MVP candidate in Josh Donaldson, Tanaka threw a 88 mph slider that he just got under – had Donaldson swung a bit more level and squared it up, it could have been out to the seats in a hurry. But instead of a grand slam, Donaldson hit a towering sac fly to tie the game 1-1. Tanaka managed to get out of the inning without further damage by striking out Jose Bautista and inducing a soft line out from Edwin Encarnacion. That outcome, especially considering the Jays lineup, is just tremendous.

Besides that fifth inning, boy, Tanaka was fantastic today. I will take many more starts like that. Especially with Dellin Betances and Andrew Miller not being available, a complete game from a starter was just what the doctor ordered.

Gluten free forearms (Source: Getty)

Retaking and extending the lead

In the sixth, with two outs, Teixeira pulled a changeup into the second deck for a massive solo home run, 2-1. Chase Headley worked a walk against Estrada and Greg Bird stepped up to the plate, looking for his first ML hit.

On a 1-0 pitch, Bird hit a massive fly ball that hit the top of the second deck seats … that was initially called a foul, just outside the pole. Joe Girardi encouraged the umpires to review the foul, and after replay the call remained. It was foul. Oh well. Bird ended up striking out swinging to end the inning.

In the eighth, Beltran struck again – with one out, he hit a deep double that just missed a homer by inches. Teixeira followed it up with an RBI single to bring in Chris Young (pinch-running for Beltran), making it 3-1.

The Yankees got another insurance in the ninth. John Ryan Murphy led off the inning with a double and Stephden Drew sent him to third with a sacrifice bunt. Ellsbury, who seems to be hitting balls harder lately, lined an RBI single to center to make it 4-1. There’s never an enough insurance runs against the Blue Jays.

Leftovers

Man, how big has Beltran been? Not only did he hit a homer in the first, he also made two not-so-easy inning-ending catches that would’ve scored runs for Toronto. After today’s game, Beltran has a 122 wRC+ and .203 ISO in 2015, which are great – especially for a 38-year old who had a very, very abysmal start to the season.

Greg Bird had his first ML hit in the eighth inning! After starting his career 0-for-8, Bird grounded a pitch from LaTroy Hawkins for a single to opposite field. It also happened to be one of the weaker contacts he’s made in ML, so of course.

“And our long national slow-down is over,” quipped Michael Kay in the ninth as Brett Gardner finally stole a base with two outs. That is his first stolen base since June 12, more than two months ago.

Box score, standings, highlights and WPA

Here’s today’s box score, updated standings, video highlights and WPA.


Source: FanGraphs


The Yankees will go for the series sweep tomorrow with 21-year old Luis Severino on the mound against Drew Hutchinson. This weekend has gone exorbitantly better than the previous weekend so bask in it, readers!

Game 115: The Day After

(Presswire)
(Presswire)

My heart is still pumping after that game last night. That was something else. Been a while since a baseball game made me feel that way. But today is a new day, and what happened yesterday is in past. The Yankees have another game this afternoon and a chance to win the series over the Blue Jays at Rogers Centre. I’d like that, especially after last weekend.

The Yankees have the right guy on the mound this afternoon in Masahiro Tanaka, who has been really homer prone of late, but also pretty good. Last weekend he held the Jays to three hits — two solo homers — in six innings and could have gone out for the seventh because he’d only thrown 80 pitches. Hopefully Tanaka goes deeper into the game today and keeps the ball in the park. Here is Toronto’s lineup and here is New York’s lineup:

  1. CF Jacoby Ellsbury
  2. LF Brett Gardner
  3. RF Carlos Beltran
  4. DH Mark Teixeira
  5. 3B Chase Headley
  6. 1B Greg Bird
  7. SS Didi Gregorus
  8. C John Ryan Murphy
  9. 2B Stephen Drew
    RHP Masahiro Tanaka

It is cloudy, cool, and humid in Toronto this afternoon, and there is some rain in the forecast, so I’m guessing the Rogers Centre roof will be closed. This afternoon’s game will begin at 1:07pm ET and you can watch on YES. Enjoy.

Roster Move: The Yankees have recalled Caleb Cotham and designated Chris Capuano for assignment, the team announced. I guess that means Bryan Mitchell is available for long relief work again.

Injury Update: Forgot to mention this in the recap last night, but x-rays on Ivan Nova‘s finger came back negative following last night’s game. He took that hard-hit grounder to the hand in the third inning. It got him in the ring finger. Nova stayed in the game and didn’t seem to have any problems afterward … Diego Moreno will have bone chips removed from his elbow, Brian Cashman announced. Moreno had been pitching when them for years, but they didn’t become a problem until recently.

Saturday Links: A-Rod, Best Tools, 810 River Ave., CLEAR

(Tom Pennington/Getty)
(Tom Pennington/Getty)

The Yankees and Blue Jays resume their three-game series early this afternoon. Until then, check out these stray links and news items to help you pass the time.

Pre-game ceremony for A-Rod‘s 3,000th hit

This is rich. The Yankees will hold a special on-field pre-game ceremony for Alex Rodriguez‘s 3,000th career hit later this season, the team announced. It’ll be held Sunday, September 13th, before the team’s 1pm ET game against the Blue Jays. They ask you to be in your seats by 12:30pm ET. So just a few weeks after refusing to pay A-Rod his $6M home run milestone bonus because they claimed it was unmarketable, the Yankees are honoring Alex for his 3,000th hit. Guess they’re hoping for a late-season attendance bump.

MLB.com’s farm system rankings

Jim Callis posted his updated ranking of the top ten farm systems this week, and the Yankees placed tenth. I’m not sure where Callis had the Yankees coming into the season, but most other publications had them in the 18-25 range. “New York has position prospects at every spot on the diamond, including speedy shortstop Jorge Mateo (No. 99), sweet-swinging second baseman Robert Refsnyder and slugging catcher Gary Sanchez,” wrote Callis. I don’t know if the Yankees truly have a top ten system yet — this is just one person’s rankings, of course — but the system is clearly on the rise, even if Severino graduates to the big leagues before the end of the season.

Baseball America’s Best Tools

Baseball America published their annual Best Tools survey this week, in which they poll managers, coaches, scouts … basically everyone about the best players and best tools in their individual leagues. Several Yankees players and prospects appeared throughout the survey, so here’s a quick rundown:

All of the surveys are free, you don’t need a subscription, so click the links and you can read through each category and each league. Obviously this is all very subjective — I can’t imagine there are many Yankee fans who consider Gardner the best bunter in the AL — but I’ve always found it interesting and fun to see who coaches and scouts feel have the best skills.

(6sqft)
(6sqft)

New apartment tower being built next old Yankee Stadium site

According to Ondel Hylton, a new 17-story apartment building is being built on River Ave. between 157th and 158th Streets, on the old Ball Park Lanes site. (The bowling alley closed years ago.) The 134-unit building at 810 River Ave. is right across the street from the old Yankee Stadium site and is a few blocks away from the new Stadium. The neighborhood was re-zoned for buildings up to 30 stories back in 2009, and this is the first new high-rise going up in the area. Construction started in May.

CLEAR comes to Yankee Stadium

As you know, MLB mandated all 30 ballparks must have metal detectors at the entrances this season, which is a total pain. Couldn’t be any less convenient and, frankly, it doesn’t make me feel any safer. (Not that I’ve ever felt unsafe at a game, but that’s besides the point.) The Yankees recently partnered up with CLEAR to expedite the process, the team announced. It’s the same biometrics technology they use at airports for TSA pre-check. You can sign up at Gate 4, and, if approved, you’ll be able to simply scan your finger at a designated fast access lane and skip the whole metal detector process. Yankee Stadium is the third stadium with CLEAR technology, joining AT&T Park and Coors Field. So if you’ve ever wanted that airport experience at a ball park, this is your lucky day!