Anyway, here is tonight’s open thread. The Bills and Seahawks are the Monday Night Football game, and the Islanders are playing as well. Talk about those games or anything else right here. I know the election is tomorrow, but please, no politics. Thanks in advance.
According to George King, the Yankees will be among the teams on hand to watch former Royals closer Greg Holland throw for scouts in Scottsdale today. Holland, a free agent, is working his way back from Tommy John surgery. “He is back at it full steam,” said agent Scott Boras to Joel Sherman. “With the value of relief pitching being shown [in the postseason], he should be interesting.”
Holland, who turns 31 later this month, blew out his elbow late last season, one year before free agency, so the Royals non-tendered him. That’s basically what Nathan Eovaldi is going through right now. Holland had a 1.86 ERA (1.92 FIP) with a 35.2% strikeout rate in 256.1 innings from 2011-14 before slipping to a 3.83 ERA (3.27 FIP) with 25.4% strikeout rate in 44.2 innings in 2015, likely because his elbow was barking. I have some thoughts on this.
1. Of course Holland is worth a look. There’s no reason for the Yankees — or any other team, for that matter — to not go see what Holland looks like at his workout. Every club has scouts in Arizona. It’s not out of the way. Pop on by the workout and see what he looks like 13 months out from surgery. Even if you don’t sign him, it’s something for the ol’ information bank you can refer back to later.
(Coincidentally enough, the GM Meetings are in Scottsdale this week, so every team’s head honcho and his top lieutenants will be in the area. I’m guessing more than a few big wigs will stop by Holland’s workout if their schedules allow.)
Once upon a time Holland was a really great reliever, and there’s a chance he will still be a really great reliever after Tommy John surgery. Tommy John surgery is pretty risky — the procedure itself may be routine, but the rehab sure isn’t — and it’s possible Holland’s days as effective big leaguer are over. It’s worth finding out though. Get eyes on him at the workout, and if he looks good, try to sign him.
Update: Eric Longenhagen says Holland was 88-91 mph during today’s workout. That’s down from his peak, though it’s not terribly surprising for a guy still building arm strength after major surgery. Sherman says the Yankees had scout Dan Giese and pro scouting director Kevin Reese on hand. (Yes, that Dan Giese and Kevin Reese.)
2. The Yankees could, in theory, offer him the closer’s spot. Holland is a former All-Star closer, and I have to think he’s looking to return to the ninth inning as soon as possible. That’s where the glory is, and, most importantly, that’s where the money is. Two relievers could have the exact same season, but the guy who does it as a closer will get more attention that the guy who does it as a setup man, guaranteed.
The Yankees are actually in position to offer Holland their closer’s job. I absolutely believe Dellin Betances could close. Zero doubt about it. I also believe Betances is most valuable in a setup role, where Joe Girardi is more willing to extend him a bit and use him in the game’s most important situation regardless of inning. Holland could close while Betances returns to the fireman role he’s filled so well the last few years.
Now, does it make sense to trust a dude coming off Tommy John surgery in the ninth inning? That’s debatable. I guess it depends how Holland’s stuff rebounds following elbow reconstruction and how he looks in Spring Training. I honestly don’t think any team will guarantee Holland their closer’s job. Not so soon after elbow surgery. Obviously some teams are better positioned to quickly move him into the ninth inning though.
The other problem is the Yankees will reportedly go after one of the top available relievers, presumably Aroldis Chapman. Holland will figure out for himself which team offers the greatest opportunity to return to closing. Getting stuck behind Betances and possibly Chapman (or Kenley Jansen or Mark Melancon) on the closer depth chart might not be so appealing.
3. Signing Holland shouldn’t deter the Yankees from sign another top reliever. Holland should be looked at as a lottery ticket. He’s not someone you can count on to be a key part of your bullpen so soon after surgery. I don’t doubt his stuff or anything. The guy has nasty, nasty stuff.
The Yankees are reportedly going to be in the market for a top reliever and that shouldn’t include Holland. He’s essentially a reclamation project. The master plan should be Chapman
or Jansen and Holland, not Chapman /Jansen or Holland. Go add that big lockdown bullpen arm, then add Holland on top of that. That’s the best way to go about this. Don’t count on him for anything. It should all be gravy.
I can’t think of another player who became as beloved as a Yankee as Andrew Miller despite spending so little time with the Yankees. He didn’t even win a championship in New York or anything. Miller wore pinstripes for only a season and a half, yet he was a fan favorite, a clubhouse favorite, and one of the team’s best and most reliable players. I don’t think it’s hyperbole to call him one of the greatest free agent signings in Yankees history.
Miller’s departure from the Yankees really had nothing to do with Miller himself. He went above and beyond the call of duty in New York, but the rest of the team was not ready to contend, so much so that they needed an infusion of young talent. The dominant and affordable Miller was one of the club’s most valuable trade chips, so when the trade deadline rolled around, the Yankees entertained offers. Eventually someone met their demands.
The Spring Injury
The trade deadline was not the first time the Yankees dangled Miller on the trade market. They listened to offers over the winter and reportedly discussed sending him to the Astros for a package similar to what Houston sent to the Phillies for Ken Giles, but things never came together. Miller remained with the Yankees and reported to Spring Training not really knowing what his role would be.
“Certainly, they felt like more firepower can help us reach the goals. And if that’s what it takes to get there, then I’m all for it,” said Miller after Joe Girardi declared the newly acquired Aroldis Chapman the team’s closer. “I came here to play for the Yankees. I had a choice to go there. My goal is to win … I’m not worried about some sort of milestone or Hall of Fame case or anything like that. I’m just trying to go out there and win.”
MLB announced Chapman’s suspension in early-March, which meant, once again, Miller would be the team’s closer. At least temporarily. He went about his business in Spring Training, got his work in, and prepared for the season as usual. Preparing to be a closer is no different than preparing to be a setup man. Then, on March 30th, right at the end of camp, Miller took a line drive to his right wrist.
Thirty Games as Closer
If the wrist injury had a lingering effect on Miller’s performance, it didn’t show during the regular season. He went 6-for-6 in save chances during the first 30 games of the season — the Yankees didn’t give him many leads to protect, unfortunately — and during that time he allowed seven hits and one walk with 20 strikeouts in 11.2 innings. At one point Miller retired 22 straight batters with 14 strikeouts. Yeah.
Miller’s most memorable moment as the closer this year was his final save chance before Chapman’s suspension ended. The Red Sox were in town and the Yankees were nursing a 3-2 lead in the eighth inning. Girardi went to Miller for the four-out save, and after getting the final out of the eighth, he loaded the bases with one out on three singles (Josh Rutledge, Dustin Pedroia, Xander Bogaerts) in the ninth. It was butt-clenching time. Then Miller did what Miller does (with some help from home plate umpire Ron Kulpa).
“What do you want me to do? You want me to throw a fit?” said Miller the day Chapman returned. “The goal here is to win. I think if you go around and ask, there’s 25 lockers in here, and I think everyone is going to say that. We haven’t gotten off to the start that we want to. I think we’ve played well in the last couple of days, and the goal is to keep that going. Wins are what’s fun at the end of the day.”
Back to the Eighth
Weirdly enough, Chapman allowed a run before Miller this season. Chapman gave up a run in his first game back from the suspension. Miller didn’t allow his first run until the next day. He entered the eighth inning with a one-run lead against the Royals, then allowed a leadoff home run to Lorenzo Cain. (It was Cain’s third homer of the night.) The Yankees rallied to win that game, but still, Miller finally allowed a run, and some tried to make it a thing that he was unhappy about losing his closer’s job.
“There shouldn’t be (an adjustment). It should be the same,” said Miller after that game. “I’m out there trying to get outs, and unfortunately, I made a bad pitch and had to pay for it. Honestly, I’m just focused on the hitters. I’m trying as much (as I can) to concentrate on that.”
To the surprise of no one, Miller went right back to dominating as the setup man, and along with Chapman and Betances, he help form one of the most devastating bullpen trios in baseball history. In 30 games and 31.2 innings as the eighth inning guy, Miller pitched to a 1.99 ERA (2.55 FIP) with 54 strikeouts and six walks. That’s a 44.3% strikeout rate and a 4.9% walk rate, so yeah. He also had a 54.2% ground ball rate too.
Miller allowed eight runs (seven earned) in those 31.2 innings and five came on home runs. All solo shots. One was even a walk-off. I totally forgot about this:
For the first time in his career, Miller was an All-Star this season, and he actually had a tough outing in the All-Star Game itself. He entered the eighth inning with a two-run lead and it went fly out (Brandon Belt), single (Jonathan Lucroy), strikeout (Jay Bruce), single (Starling Marte), walk (Adam Duvall). Miller loaded the bases and threw 28 pitches in two-thirds of an inning. Will Harris had to come in to bail him out. (Harris struck out Aledmys Diaz to strand the bases loaded.)
The Yankees traded Chapman to the Cubs on July 25th, so for his final week in pinstripes, Miller returned to the ninth inning and served as the closer. He converted both save chances and struck out three in two scoreless innings that week. All told, Miller had a 1.39 ERA (1.78 FIP) in 45.1 innings with the Yankees in 2016. He struck out 77 (44.8%), walked seven (4.1%), and got a ton of grounders (52.9%). Miller also saved eight games in eight tries in his two short stints as closer. Total domination.
The Trade Deadline
On the morning of July 31st, the Yankees were 52-51 and 4.5 games back of the second wildcard spot with four teams ahead of them. They’d lost their last three games as well. The Yankees had been spinning their wheels all season. Each hot streak was met with an equally long cold streak. It had been a struggle all season just to get over .500. Remember that? They didn’t do it for good until August 10th.
There was no real indication the Yankees were going to make any sort of run in the second half. Chapman had already been traded, so the team was ready to sell, though Miller was different. Chapman was going to be a free agent after the season. Miller is signed through 2018 at an affordable rate. The Yankees didn’t have to trade Miller the way they had to trade Chapman (and Carlos Beltran and Ivan Nova). There was no reason not to listen to offers though.
Just about every contender in baseball had interest in Miller. The Indians, Cubs, Giants, Dodgers, Rangers, Astros, Nationals, Red Sox, Cardinals … you name the team and they wanted him, understandably. The Yankees set the price high and let teams come to them. It was a bidding war, and when it was all said and done, the Indians stepped up and gave the Yankees what they wanted.
On July 31st, the day before the trade deadline, the Yankees shipped Miller to Cleveland for a package of four prospects: outfielder Clint Frazier, left-hander Justus Sheffield, and right-handers Ben Heller and J.P. Feyereisen. Baseball America ranked Frazier and Sheffield as the 21st and 69th best prospects in baseball, respectively, in their midseason top 100 list earlier in July. They were the headliners.
“One of those two wouldn’t have been enough. We had to have them both,” said Cashman after the trade. “(There) was a pit in my stomach that I have the most difficult job of all in calling Andrew Miller. Andrew, he didn’t want to go anywhere. He loved playing here. Andrew was everything you want. Unfortunately, we had a lot of areas that need to be addressed, so unfortunately he was part of that type of solution.”
After the Trade
The Indians didn’t acquire Miller to get to the postseason. They had a 4.5 game lead in the AL Central on the day of the trade and FanGraphs put their postseason odds at 95.0%. Cleveland made the trade because they wanted to win the World Series, and they very nearly did that thanks in large part to Miller. The Indians pushed the best team in baseball to extra innings in Game Seven of the World Series, and they did it without Michael Brantley and Carlos Carrasco. They came so close!
Miller was Miller after the trade. He had a 1.55 ERA (1.53 FIP) with a ton of strikeouts (44.7%) and grounders (56.4%), and few walks (1.9%) in 29 regular season innings with the Indians. Coincidentally enough, Miller earned his first of three regular season saves with Cleveland against the Yankees.
Outlook for 2017
The Indians are a small payroll team and they did ride Miller hard in the postseason, so I suppose there’s a chance they will entertain trading him this offseason to replenish the farm system. That’s nothing more than my speculation though. It certainly wouldn’t hurt to listen. Teams may still be willing to pay through the nose for bullpen help like they did at the trade deadline.
As for the Yankees, the focus is on the four prospects they received in the Miller trade. Heller made his MLB debut after the deal and figures to be a bullpen factor next season. Frazier is slated to begin the season in Triple-A and could reach the show at some point during the summer. Sheffield will start next year in Double-A and Feyereisen will be in Triple-A. They’re all pretty close to the big leagues, so we’ll see what happens. Nothing we can do other than wait.
In his year and a half as a Yankee, Miller was essentially the perfect player. He was ultra-productive, he was willing to pitch in any role, and he was on a bargain contract. You wish you could have 25 guys like this on your roster. Miller was not the problem in any way. The rest of the team was the problem. I don’t think anyone didn’t love Andrew Miller. He’s awesome. It’s a shame he had to go, but it was the right move. Given their current state, the Yankees need the young talent more than they need a dominant reliever.
2016 Season Record: 84-78 (680 RS, 702 RA, 79-83 pythag. record), 5.0 GB of postseason spot
Top stories from last week:
- For the first time in 108 years, the Chicago Cubs are World Series champions. They beat the Indians in Game Seven last Wednesday. The offseason is officially underway now. Here are the important dates.
- The Yankees added Kyle Higashioka and Domingo German to the 40-man roster, and also reinstated Dustin Ackley, Nathan Eovaldi, Chad Green Branden Pinder, and Nick Rumbelow from the 60-day DL. Conor Mullee was claimed off waivers by the Cubs.
- The Yankees are expected to target Aroldis Chapman over Kenley Jansen in free agency, likely because Chapman won’t be attached to draft pick compensation.
- Dellin Betances is on Team USA’s preliminary 50-man roster for the 2017 World Baseball Classic. The roster will be finalized in January.
- Baseball America released their top ten Yankees prospects list.
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.
Fun fact: I played Charlie Brown in an elementary school play once. True story. Had a DIY yellow shirt with the zig zag and everything. Gosh that was a long time ago.
Anyway, the Yankees won the 2009 World Series seven years ago tonight, so that’s really cool. Use this open thread to talk about that, the upcoming offseason, tonight’s Knicks and Nets games, or anything else right here.
Saturday: Here is the open thread once again. The Arizona Fall League’s Fall Stars Game is on tonight (8pm ET on MLB Network and MLB.com). Miguel Andujar, Gleyber Torres, and Dillon Tate will all play at some point. Also, the three local hockey teams are in action, plus there’s college football on as well. Have at it.
Sunday: For the last time, here is the open thread. You’ve got all the day’s NFL action plus the Knicks, Rangers, and Devils are playing. Enjoy the rest of the weekend.
The most important question we can every ask is, simply, ‘why?’ When it comes to asking others, we’re usually pretty good at it. But, oftentimes, we fall short when it comes to asking ourselves that same question. That’s not to say we don’t self-examine about important things; however, how often do we really question why we love the leisure time activities we do? And when we do, the answers are usually pretty quick and with good reason; we’re resolute in our enjoyment of certain things and they’ve become second nature. This week, as the World Series ended, I found myself asking myself, “Why do I love baseball?” The question wasn’t meant to be an accusatory one; I’m not finding fault with myself or even the game–though I’m sure you could join me in some nitpicking about that. Rather, the question was meant as a reminder after a great Game 7 and a highly entertaining and enjoyable World Series.
The biggest reason I love baseball–and I’m sure this is the case for many of you–is that of the connection it facilitates between people. From my father and grandfather to my wife and (hopefully) my son, baseball has been a common link between all of us. Whether it was going to games with my dad (and mom and sister) or him watching me play or me going to his softball games or, eventually, us playing together a few times, the ball game has always been a strong link between us. When his father died in July of 2006, I dove into baseball as a coping mechanism and it led me to the intense love of the game that led me to writing. That writing led me to Twitter, where my wife and I first interacted and bonded over a love of baseball and the Yankees, and now five years later, we have a son whom we’ll do the best we can to raise in the “Yankees Only” lifestyle.
People are the most important things in our lives and the connections we have with them are at the base of that importance. For many people in my life, that connection is rooted in baseball. Even the game itself, not dictated by a clock or the passing of a clock, but the overlapping and transition of innings is about connection over time that so many of us find with the game from those that came before us and those that we will share the game with in the years to come.
As the years pass on, the connections I have to the game will remain based in the people around me, though in some sort of mirrored cycle in which I become my father and grandfather to my son (and any other kids we’re lucky enough to have) and eventual grandchildren. The connection, the cycle, will hopefully be unbroken because, dammit, I love baseball.
- Jonathan Mayo spoke to Torres and OF Clint Frazier about watching Aroldis Chapman and Andrew Miller pitch this postseason. “Watching Miller dominate those hitters like that has been unreal. It kind of puts some pressure on you. You want to live up to the expectations,” said Frazier.
- RHP James Kaprielian spoke to Chris Tripodi about his injury and the fear of Tommy John surgery. “After getting multiple opinions and understanding what was happening, that was the biggest thing. Obviously, as a pitcher, the thought crosses your mind,” he said.
- J.J. Cooper polled scouts and created a master list of minor leaguers who hit 100 mph this year. There are 69 of them overall, including nine (!) Yankees. No other team has more than six. Tate, RHP Domingo Acevedo, RHP Domingo German, RHP J.P. Feyereisen, RHP Anyelo Gomez, RHP Ben Heller, RHP Luis Medina, RHP Freicer Perez, and RHP Daris Vargas are the nine. Three of them came over at the trade deadline.
- And finally, George King reports third base coach/infielder instructor Joe Espada will head to the AzFL at some point to work with Torres for a week. Torres is in the process of learning second base to increase his versatility.
Arizona Fall League
- 3B Miguel Andujar: 14 G, 15-46, 8 R, 2 2B, 1 3B, 1 RBI, 9 BB, 5 K (.326/.429/.413) — finishing the year strong, so that’s good to see
- 1B Greg Bird: 14 G, 11-54, 7 R, 4 2B, 1 3B, 1 HR, 9 RBI, 10 BB, 13 K, 1 SB, 1 HBP (.204/.338/.370) — went 2-for-13 (.154) last week, which dragged his overall numbers down
- IF Gleyber Torres: 12 G, 12-40, 20 R, 2 2B, 3 HR, 7 RBI, 11 BB, 5 K, 2 SB, 2 CS (.300/.451/.575) — pretty amazing he’s playing so well here … he’s only 19 and he played a full season in High-A before coming here, many kids this age are completely out of gas by time they get to the AzFL
- UTIL Tyler Wade: 10 G, 5-32, 8 R, 1 3B, 1 RBI, 9 BB, 9 K, 6 SB (.156/.341/.219) — he’s played one game at second, two in left, four in center, and three in right … he’s also played four innings at third
- LHP Nestor Cortes: 3 G, 3 IP, 5 H, 4 R, 4 ER, 4 BB, 5 K (12.00 ERA and 3.00 WHIP)
- RHP J.P. Feyereisen: 7 G, 9 IP, 11 H, 5 R, 4 ER, 6 BB, 10 K (4.00 ERA and 1.89 WHIP) — so the link above says he hit 100 mph this summer … I had no idea he threw that hard
- RHP James Kaprielian: 5 G, 5 GS, 18.1 IP, 18 H, 11 R, 8 ER, 4 BB, 17 K, 3 HR (3.93 ERA and 1.20 WHIP) — the season ends on the 17th, so he has two starts left
- RHP Brody Koerner: 4 G, 2 GS, 11 IP, 14 H, 12 R, 10 ER, 7 BB, 9 K, 1 HR, 1 WP (8.18 ERA and 1.91 WHIP) — the AzFL: not a pitcher’s league
- RHP Dillon Tate: 6 G, 9.1 IP, 9 H, 4 R, 4 ER, 1 BB, 11 K, 2 HR 2 HB (3.86 ERA and 1.07 WHIP)
Dominican Winter League
- IF Abi Avelino: 6 G, 1-10, 1 R, 2 K (.100/.100/.100)
- SS Jorge Mateo: 10 G, 5-34, 3 R, 1 2B, 1 3B, 2 RBI, 1 BB, 7 K, 1 HBP (.147/.194/.235) — he’s been playing shortstop exclusively, no second base or center field
- OF Cesar Puello: 6 G, 3-10, 1 2B, 1 RBI, 4 BB (.300/.500/.400) — the Yankees didn’t add him to the 40-man roster yesterday, which indicates they’ll let him become a minor league free agent Monday
- RHP Adonis Rosa: 2 G, 1 GS, 5 IP, 0 H, 0 R, 0 ER, 2 BB, 2 K (0.00 ERA and 0.40 WHIP)
- UTIL Jose Rosario and RHP Anyelo Gomez are both listed on rosters as well, but they haven’t appeared in a game yet.
Mexican Pacific League
- OF Tito Polo: 14 G, 14-53, 11 R, 4 2B, 1 RBI, 4 B, 15 K, 8 SB, 1 CS, 3 HBP (.264/.350/.340) — he got hurt in Tuesday’s game and hasn’t played since, so that’s not good
- C Sebastian Valle: 15 G, 12-53, 5 R, 3 2B, 1 HR, 8 RBI, 7 BB, 19 K, 1 HBP (.226/.323/.340)
The Roberto Clemente Professional Baseball League (Puerto Rico) started its season last week. IF Cito Culver, IF Vince Conde, and OF Aaron Judge are all listed on rosters, though they haven’t played yet. And they might not.
Venezuelan Winter League
- IF Angel Aguilar: 6 G, 2-7, 3 R, 3 K (.286/.286/.286)
- C Francisco Diaz: 17 G, 11-51, 3 R, 2 2B, 2 3B, 2 RBI, 3 BB, 11 K, 1 SB (.216/.259/.333) — poised to be the new Kyle Higashioka in that he’ll bounce around to the different levels depending on which team needs a catcher at any given time
- RHP Luis Cedeno: 3 G, 1 GS, 8.1 IP, 9 H, 7 R, 5 ER, 4 BB, 7 K, 2 HR, 1 GB, 2 WP (5.40 ERA and 1.56 WHIP)
- RHP David Kubiak: 4 G, 2 GS, 11.2 IP, 14 H, 13 R, 11 ER, 7 BB, 11 K, 1 HR, 1 HB, 2 WP (8.49 ERA and 1.80 WHIP)
- RHP Mark Montgomery: 5 G, 3.2 IP, 4 H, 3 R, 3 ER, 3 BB, 3 K (7.36 ERA and 1.91 WHIP)
- LHP Miguel Sulbaran, RHP Daniel Alvarez, 3B Daniel Barrios, RHP Alex Mejias, 3B Andres Chaparro, OF Andres Fernandez, and C David Vergel are all listed on rosters as well.