Didi Gregorius leaves WBC with right shoulder injury

(AP Photo/Toru Takahashi)
(AP Photo/Toru Takahashi)

Welp, this isn’t good: Didi Gregorius has left Team Netherlands and is returning to Tampa with a right shoulder injury, according to Bryan Hoch and Kevin Kernan. It’s a “hematoma of the subcapsular muscle,” whatever that means, according to Anthony Rieber. Gregorius had a preliminary MRI yesterday and will go for more tests tomorrow.

“The doctor was really encouraged by his strength and felt good about it, but we thought we’re going to cover ourselves,” said Joe Girardi to Randy Miller. “It’s obviously not what you want to hear, but hopefully it’s something short. But again, we have not seen him. The evaluation from the doctor was his strength was really good. But we’ve got to see him.”

Gregorius played six games in the World Baseball Classic — one at shortstop and five at designated hitter in deference to Andrelton Simmons. The Netherlands clinched a spot in the semifinals last week and they’ve spent the last few days in Arizona working out and playing exhibition games while waiting for the semifinals to start tonight.

It’s unclear how exactly Gregorius got hurt, but it could simply be one of those wear and tear baseball injuries. I know everyone will freak out and blame the WBC, but Gregorius could have just as easily gotten hurt with the Yankees. It doesn’t really matter though. He’s hurt and that’s that.

Hopefully tomorrow’s tests bring good news because the shortstop depth chart is not pretty. Ronald Torreyes, Ruben Tejada, Donovan Solano, and Pete Kozma are the best in-house options. I don’t think the Yankees would be foolish enough to accelerate their timetable with Gleyber Torres because of the injury. Didi getting hurt doesn’t make Torres more MLB ready.

Gregorius, 27, hit .276/.304/.447 (98 wRC+) with 20 home runs last season. He went 8-for-23 (.385) with four doubles and a home run in his six WBC games. Opening Day is only 13 days away, so unless this is a really minor injury, Didi’s chances of being ready to start the season aren’t good.

Fan Confidence Poll: March 20th, 2017

Spring Record: 17-6 (134 RS, 98 RA)
Spring Opponents This Week: Mon. @ WAS (MLBN, MLB.tv), Tues. vs. BOS (MLB.tv), Weds. @ PHI (MLBN, MLB.tv), Thurs. @ TB (ESPN, MLB.tv), Fri. vs. PHI (YES, MLB.tv), Sat. vs. TOR (YES, MLB.tv), Sun. vs. TB (no TV)

Top stories from last week:

Please take a second to answer the poll below and give us an idea of how confident you are in the team. You can view the interactive Fan Confidence Graph anytime via the Features tab in the nav bar above, or by clicking here. Thanks in advance for voting.

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Open Thread: March 19th Camp Notes

Fighting Spirit! The Yankees put together a two-run rally in the top of the ninth to beat the Astros today. The tying and go-ahead runs scored on the same wild pitch because the pitcher never bothered to cover the plate. Good times. Chase Headley drove in two runs with a double while Clint Frazier had two singles. Brett Gardner, Gleyber Torres, and Aaron Judge each had a hit as well. Headley also stole home on the front end of a double steal.

Both Adam Warren (3.2 IP, 1 R) and Luis Severino (3.1 IP, 3 R) pitched and neither looked particularly sharp with their location. Severino’s line would have been much worse if not for two great defensive plays by Aaron Hicks. He made a leaping catch at the wall and also threw a runner out at the plate. No one wants to win those final two rotation spots, it seems. Here are the box score and video highlights, and here is the rest of the news from Spring Training:

  • Brendan Kuty has the complete minor league workout groups. These do not necessarily indicate the player will start the season at that level, remember. Example: Miguel Flames will not be in Triple-A. Jake Cave, Erik Swanson, Stephen Tarpley, Austin DeCarr, and Jordan Foley are all listed in the rehab group. Hmmm. Also, the Yankees have apparently hired Dan Fiorito as an instructor. Neat. He spent the last few years as a utility man in the farm system.
  • Jordan Montgomery will start Thursday’s game, Joe Girardi announced. A few days ago Girardi seemed to indicate the big left-hander may be pitching his way into an Opening Day roster spot. Montgomery threw four perfect innings last time out and has allowed four earned runs in 10.1 total innings this spring. [Bryan Hoch]
  • The Yankees will still be on the road in West Palm Beach tomorrow afternoon. I believe Michael Pineda is pitching. That game will be on MLB Network and MLB.tv.

Here is the open thread for the rest of the weekend. There are no World Baseball Classic games on today, unfortunately. That USA vs. Dominican Republic game last night was intense. MLB Network will show Spring Training games on tape delay all night instead. None of the local hockey or basketball teams are playing tonight, but there’s all the March Madness madness. Talk about that stuff or anything else here, as long as it’s not religion or politics. Thanks in advance.

Spring Training Game Thread: A Two-Day Road Trip

(Presswire)
(Presswire)

For the first time this spring, the Yankees are on the east coast of Florida. They made the long trek across the state to West Palm Beach for this afternoon’s game against the Astros. And because they have to play the Nationals at West Palm Beach tomorrow — the Astros and Nationals share the Ballpark at the Palm Beaches, which just opened this year — they’re going to stay in town tonight rather than go all the way back to Tampa.

Anyway, this afternoon both Adam Warren and Luis Severino will make their latest Grapefruit League appearances as they hope to secure Opening Day rotation spots. I still think Warren will end up in the bullpen, but we’ll see. Also, Ben Heller has quietly had a nice spring and he’ll pitch today as well. Even if he doesn’t make the Opening Day roster, I’m certain we’ll see Heller at some point this summer. Here is the Astros’ lineup and here are the players the Yankees sent across the state:

  1. LF Brett Gardner
  2. CF Aaron Hicks
  3. 1B Greg Bird
  4. DH Matt Holliday
  5. 3B Chase Headley
  6. RF Aaron Judge
  7. 2B Ronald Torreyes
  8. C Kyle Higashioka
  9. SS Tyler Wade
    RHP Adam Warren

Available Pitchers: RHP Luis Severino, RHP Ben Heller, and RHP Gio Gallegos are all expected to pitch after Warren. RHP J.R. Graham, LHP Jason Gurka, RHP Jonathon Holder, RHP Travis Hissong, RHP Matt Marsh, RHP Cale Coshow, RHP Andrew Schwaab, and LHP Nestor Cortes are the extra arms. Hissong, Marsh, Coshow, Schwaab, and Cortes are all up from minor league camp for the two-day road trip.

Available Position Players: C Wilkin Castillo, 1B Ji-Man Choi, 2B Gleyber Torres, SS Pete Kozma, 3B Donovan Solano, LF Clint Frazier, CF Dustin Fowler, and RF Billy McKinney will be the second string off the bench. C Austin Romine, C Radley Haddad, IF Thairo Estrada, IF Ruben Tejada, and UTIL Rob Refsnyder are the extra players. Haddad and Estrada are up from minor league camp.

It is nice and sunny in West Palm Beach today. Good baseball weather. This afternoon’s game will begin a little after 1pm ET, and if you’re in the Houston market, you can watch on ROOT Sports. If not, MLB.tv is your only option. MLB Network is not showing the game live. Enjoy the game.

Looking at the Yankee Offense via Steamer Projections

(Kim Klement | USA TODAY Sports)
(Kim Klement | USA TODAY Sports)

Insert cliche about anticipation here. As we’ve been over since the last out of the World Series was recorded, we’re ready for baseball to begin again, aren’t we? That snowstorm last week may have made us feel trapped in winter for a few days, but the calendar is ticking away and we’re getting closer to Opening Day. The end of the WBC this week will likely speed things up as well, as it feels like a hill that needs to be conquered before we speed to the real season (but definitely a fun hill at that!).

The Yankees this year are somewhat up in the air. No one’s really expecting them to do anything much in the way of competing–myself included–but you can’t help but dream with all the potential on the team. Frankly, this is a best-of-both-worlds scenario and part of why I’m so looking forward to this season. If the Yankees are ‘bad,’ well, so be it. At least there are a bunch of young, exciting guys to watch. If they happen to compete? Awesome! An unexpected surprise. Even though I’ll watch and listen to most every game and definitely care in the moment, on a macro level, this season is going to be the epitome of Joe’s old maxim of Zen Baseball: just relax and enjoy it.

Regardless of that, curiosity’s got the best of me, so I wanted to take a look at what we might be in store for in 2017. We’ve already taken a look at ZiPS, so let’s try our hand at the Steamer projections for the Yankees.

Leading things off, Gary Sanchez paces the team in fWAR projection. Steamer projects him for 3.6 fWAR this year. Didi Gregorius follows him at 2.2 and Chase Headley rounds out the top three at 2.0. I was a bit surprised to see Headley at the third position, but Steamer likes his defense a lot and pairing that with near average offense (96 wRC+) gives him a solid projection. I’d sign up for that from Headley in a heartbeat.

In terms of wRC+, Steamer gives the nod to Greg Bird, projecting him for a 123 mark, just a head of Matt Holliday at 121 and Sanchez at 118. All in all, Steamer projects six Yankees to be over 100 in terms of wRC+: those three as well as Brett Gardner (101), Aaron Judge (106), and Chris Carter (107). Last year, only Brian McCann (103), Carlos Beltran (135), and Sanchez (171) were above average for the team in a significant number of plate appearances. That, frankly, is a breath of fresh air. It doesn’t mean this stuff will actually happen, but that would be a welcomed sight after last year’s mostly disappointing offense.

In terms of counting stats, Sanchez is projected to lead the team with 27 homers, then Bird at 23, followed by Carter at 22, though in limited playing time. Steamer also has Judge at “only” 17 homers, but also with under 400 PA. Adjusting him up to 500 PA gets him in the neighborhood of 22-23.

Regarding homers, there was one thing I wanted to touch on: Didi Gregorius’s total. It seems him dropping to 15 and, call it a silly gut feeling, but I think that’s about right. Didi did add some power last year, but I’m not sure 20 homers is going to be the norm for him. If he drops lower than 15, too, that’s fine, given his defense. I think 10-15 is more where he’s going to live, not 15-20, or even more.

Overall, Steamer seems to like the Yankee offense, at least as an improvement over last year’s team. ZiPS is definitely more bullish on Judge–projecting him to hit 30 homers–but Steamer seems to have the playing time distribution down better, excepting Judge being part-time. We’ve got to remember that projections aren’t predictions. We should use them to guide expectations, a starting point rather than an ending one. Regardless, things are looking up for the Yankees at the plate. It may not be a return to full on Bronx Bombers status, but it’s a step in the right direction.

Open Thread: March 18th Camp Notes

A late home run sent the Yankees to a loss today. Billy McKinney smacked his third home run of the spring while Gary Sanchez had a two-run double. Aaron Judge had a no-run double. Jacoby Ellsbury and Tyler Wade had base hits as well. Bit of a quiet day for the offense.

CC Sabathia started and allowed three runs in four innings. He allowed all three runs in the fourth, as he approached his pitch count for the day. Aroldis Chapman struck out one in his scoreless inning, and Tommy Layne allowed a solo home run in his inning of work. Layne is just back from the World Baseball Classic. The game wasn’t televised, so there is no video. Here’s the box score and here’s the rest of the day’s notes from Tampa:

  • Ernesto Frieri made his Grapefruit League debut today and faced four batters: three strikeouts and a solo homer. Frieri said he spent last season away from baseball to figure some things out, but is ready to get back at it. He added he’s willing to go to Triple-A, which indicates either his contract doesn’t include an opt-out at the end of Spring Training, or he isn’t planning to use it. [Mike Mazzeo]
  • Bryan Hoch has the pitching assignments and hitting/fielding groups for everyone who didn’t play in today’s game. The next two games are on the other side of Florida, and rather than bus back and forth both days, the Yankees will have a bunch of players stay overnight.
  • Tomorrow afternoon the Yankees will play the Astros at their new facility, the Ballpark of the Palm Beaches. It opened this year. I think Luis Severino is lined up to pitch. The game will be on MLB.tv.

Here is an open thread for the rest of the day. MLB Network is showing Venezuela vs. Puerto Rico right now even though the game is completely meaningless. Puerto Rico has already clinched a spot in the semifinals and Venezuela has already been eliminated. Still, it’s baseball. Later tonight at 10pm ET MLB Network will have USA vs. Dominican Republic in an elimination game. Winner advances and loser goes home. That’ll be fun. The (hockey) Rangers are playing later and there’s all the March Madness action all day. Talk about whatever here, just not religion or politics.

Saturday Links: Wade, Best Tools, Farm System Rankings

(Presswire)
(Presswire)

Welp, it appears this afternoon’s game will not be televised. It was on the original YES Network broadcast schedule and it’s still listed on today’s MLB.tv schedule as of this writing, but it’s been removed from the updated YES schedule and they’re advertising a 2pm ET NYCFC game on Twitter. Womp womp. If the game is on YES or MLB.tv or whatever, use this as a game thread (here’s the lineup). Otherwise here are some links to check out.

Yankees making Wade a super utility player

As suspected, the Yankees are indeed trying to turn Tyler Wade into a super utility player. Their Ben Zobrist, basically. Farm system head Gary Denbo told Brendan Kuty they approached Wade with the idea last August, and he was all for it. “Does it get me to the big leagues? … Then sign me up,” Wade told Denbo at the time. Here’s what Joe Girardi had to say:

“(Wade) gives you a ton of options. He loves it. And that’s why I think he’s done so well with it. He loves the idea. You think about it, you have your everyday players, but realistically does it hurt to give him a day off a week? No. So if you’ve got a guy who can play six positions, he could actually play five or six days a week.”

Wade told Kuty being a super utility guy is “a good thing for me, a good thing for the team.” He got his first taste of the outfield in the Arizona Fall League, and this spring he’s already played second, short, third, left, and center. (He played right in the AzFL.) I had a feeling the Yankees were going to try to turn one of their shortstop prospects into a 400-500 plate appearance supersub, and Wade is a good candidate given his athleticism.

Yankees prospects among best tools lists

Over at Baseball America (subs. req’d), J.J. Cooper polled scouts and executives about the best individual tools in the minor leagues. The best tools among legitimate prospects, that is. They didn’t worry about the light hitting journeyman outfielder with an 80 arm. Several Yankees prospects appeared on the lists. A quick recap:

  • Best Athlete: SS Jorge Mateo (fourth)
  • Best Power Hitter: OF Aaron Judge (fourth)
  • Fastest Baserunner: SS Jorge Mateo (fourth)
  • Best Fastball: RHP Domingo Acevedo (eighth)
  • Best Defensive Infielder: SS Kyle Holder (seventh)

Again, these rankings cover the entire minor leagues, so they’re saying Mateo is the fourth best athlete and baserunner among the hundreds of prospects in the minors. Baseball America puts together league specific best tools lists each year as well, and the Yankees will be heavily featured when those are released.

MiLB.com ranks Yankees system second in baseball

These last few weeks every major scouting publication said the Yankees have the second best farm system in baseball, behind the Braves. Baseball America, Baseball Prospectus, Keith Law, and MLB.com all agree. The crew at MiLB.com takes their farm system lists a step further and ranks teams based on different criteria. Here’s where the Yankees rank:

The Yankees are heavy on position player prospects at the moment — the top four and seven of the top ten prospects on my top 30 list are position players — but there’s no shame in ranking 13th among pitchers. Not when you have guys like RHP James Kaprielian and LHP Justus Sheffield in the system.

Besides, I am totally cool with a position player heavy farm system. Pitchers are very risky. You need them, but they get hurt often and it’s hard to build around young arms long-term. Give me a lineup loaded with high-end young position players and I’ll figure out the pitching as we go. Offense is becoming harder find these days because of all the velocity and shifts and whatnot. Focusing on a great offense is the way to go in my books.