Game 44: Bernie Williams Day

(AP Photo/Doug Mills)
(AP Photo/Doug Mills)

Prior to tonight’s series finale with the Rangers, the Yankees will honor and retire No. 51 for Bernie Williams with an on-field ceremony. I guess that makes it Bernie Williams night, not day. Whatever. Either way, this is a long time coming. Williams hasn’t played since 2006, but it wasn’t until last month that he officially signed his retirement papers.

Bernie was an integral part of the team’s most recent dynasty, though he often doesn’t get enough respect simply because Core Five doesn’t sound as cool as Core Four. He was as much a part of those late-1990s teams as Derek Jeter, Mariano Rivera, Andy Pettitte, Jorge Posada, Paul O’Neill, Tino Martinez, David Cone … anyone. In fact, Bernie was a Yankee long before all those guys, having been called up in 1991.

According to the Yankees, Jeter, Posada, O’Neill, Rivera, Tino, Cone, Willie Randolph, and Joe Torre will be among those in attendance for tonight’s ceremony, which is scheduled to start right around 7pm ET. You’ll be able to watch the entire thing on YES. I’m not sure if it’ll be broadcast online anywhere though.

Following the ceremony, the Yankees will wrap up their ugly series with Texas and try to avoid getting swept for the second straight series. If you’re looking for some good news, I can offer this: the Yankees are 3-0 and have outscored their opponents 28-13 in Sunday night games this year. Here is the Rangers’ lineup and here is the Yanks’ lineup:

  1. LF Brett Gardner
  2. 3B Chase Headley
  3. DH Alex Rodriguez
  4. 1B Mark Teixeira
  5. C Brian McCann
  6. RF Garrett Jones
  7. CF Chris Young
  8. SS Didi Gregorius
  9. 2B Jose Pirela
    LHP Chris Capuano

It’s a nice day in New York, a little cloudy but warm. Weather will be fine tonight. Tonight’s game will begin at 8pm ET and you catch watch on ESPN. Enjoy the Bernie ceremony and the game.

Roster Move: As expected, the Yankees have called up Jacob Lindgren from Triple-A. Branden Pinder was send down to clear a 25-man roster spot and Brendan Ryan (calf, hamstring) was transferred to the 60-day DL to clear a 40-man roster spot. Ryan’s already been on the DL for 50 days and isn’t close to returning, so the move to the 60-day doesn’t really change anything.

Injury Update: Masahiro Tanaka (wrist, forearm) threw a 31-pitch bullpen session this afternoon and felt great. He’s scheduled to make his second Triple-A rehab start on Wednesday … Carlos Beltran is out of the lineup with flu-like symptoms and could miss more than just today.

DotF: Jagielo leads Trenton to a win with another home run

Triple-A Scranton (13-10 loss Durham)

  • CF Mason Williams: 4-5, 3 R, 1 2B, 1 3B — first big game in Triple-A
  • LF Ramon Flores: 2-4, 2 R, 2 2B, 1 RBI, 1 BB — threw a runner out at second … has three extra base hits in three games since I noted he had one extra base hit in his previous 25 games
  • 2B Rob Refsnyder: 0-4, 1 R, 1 BB, 1 K — the on-base streak lives to reach 25 games
  • C Austin Romine: 2-5, 2 R, 1 HR, 2 RBI
  • RF Tyler Austin: 2-5, 1 R, 1 HR, 2 RBI, 1 K — threw a runner out at third … 8-for-25 (.320) with two homers in his last six games
  • LHP Matt Tracy: 1.2 IP, 6 H, 7 R, 6 ER, 1 BB, 0 K, 1 HBP, 1/0 GB/FB — 27 of 50 pitches were strikes (54%) … woof
  • LHP Eric Wooten: 5.1 IP, 9 H, 6 R, 6 ER, 1 BB, 2 K, 7/5 GB/FB — 56 of 88 pitches were strikes (64%) … I feel like he’s on both the Triple-A and Double-A rosters at the same time
  • RHP Gio Gallegos: 1 IP, zeroes, 1 K, 1/1 GB/FB — nine of 13 pitches were strikes … here temporarily with Jacob Lindgren on his way to MLB and Branden Pinder not yet with the RailRiders
  • RHP Jose Ramirez: 1 IP, 0 H, 0 R, 0 ER, 1 BB, 1 K, 1/1 GB/FB — ten of 16 pitches were strikes (63%)

[Read more…]

Sunday Links: A-Rod Promo, Eddy Julio Martinez, Drew

(Patrick Smith/Getty)
(Patrick Smith/Getty)

The Yankees and Rangers wrap-up their three-game series later tonight with the ESPN Sunday Night Game. Sigh. Getting sick of all these late Sunday games. Anyway, here are a handful of links to hold you over until first pitch.

Minor league team apologizes for A-Rod “juice” box promotion

On Friday, the High-A Charlotte Stone Crabs (Rays) scheduled an Alex Rodriguez “juice” box promotion for their game against the Tampa Yankees. The team was going to hand out juice boxes labeled “The Sports Drink: 100% Juiced. Side Affects include: tainted records, inflated ego, omission from the Hall of Fame, and more!”

First of all, an A-Rod steroids joke? I award you no points for creativity. Secondly, Marc Topkin reports both the Yankees and Rays objected to the promotion, so it was cancelled. The Stone Crabs then issued an apology, according to Topkin. Here’s part of the text:

“On behalf of our entire organization I apologize to the New York Yankees, our affiliate club the Tampa Bay Rays, and all fans who may have taken offense,” said Stone Crabs General Manager, Jared Forma.  “While our intent was to raise awareness for the Charlotte County Homeless Coalition and the Salvation Army, we realize this promotion may have been offensive to many and for that we are sorry and have decided to cancel the promotion.  The Stone Crabs organization has the utmost respect for the New York Yankees and Tampa Bay Rays organizations and wishes both organizations only the best in the future.”

Yeah, that probably wasn’t a good idea. It’s fine to hate A-Rod, most do, but an affiliated minor league club scheduling a promotion mocking an active player? That’s not going to sit well with the team, the league, and the MLBPA. Better luck next time.

Yankees among teams interested in Cuban OF Eddy Julio Martinez

According to Jesse Sanchez, the Yankees are one of several teams interested in free agent Cuban center fielder Eddy Julio Martinez, who has already been cleared to sign by MLB and the Office of Foreign Assets Control. Sanchez says Martinez is in showcase mode right now — he’s held several workouts for scouts and has a few more scheduled.

Martinez, 20, has been described as an “impact talent” according to Kiley McDaniel, who says he has 70 speed and 50 power on the 20-80 scouting scale. Jeff Passan hears Martinez’s signing bonus could approach $10M. There’s no indication whether Martinez is ready to sign, but he is subject to the international spending pools, so the Yankees can offer him any amount until June 25th, the final day of the 2014-15 signing period. If Martinez doesn’t sign by then, New York can only offer him $300,000 due to the penalties from last year’s international spending spree.

I don’t know much about Martinez at all, just what’s in this post basically, but, as always, I am pro adding young up-the-middle talent at all times. The Yankees have dipped their toe in the Cuban market the last few years but have yet to dive in — they attend showcases and invite players in for private workouts, but have yet to pull the trigger and sign one. Their last notable Cuban signing was Jose Contreras more than a decade ago.

(In other Cuban player news, Ben Badler reports highly touted 21-year RHP Norge Ruiz has left the island, but the Yankees won’t have a shot to sign him because he won’t be cleared until well after June 25th.)

(Patrick Smith/Getty)
(Patrick Smith/Getty)

For first time, Cashman noncommittal about Drew’s job security

A few weeks ago, when Stephen Drew was scuffling offensively but playing solid defense, Brian Cashman told Andrew Marchand the team was not considering a change at second base. “No. I think Drew’s been fine,” said the GM. “Right now, I’m not looking at anyone being an alternative at second base to Drew. I’m surprised you asked the question.”

Now, in late-May, Drew is still scuffling at the plate and playing solid defense, and, for the first time, Cashman indicated Drew’s job may not be set in stone. “(Drew has) got rope, but if someone pushes his way into the mix, so be it,” said Cashman to Joel Sherman yesterday. “I am open to having Drew all year or someone else taking this if they can. I can’t predict what is going to happen.”

That someone would be Rob Refsnyder, who continues to tear the cover off the ball for Triple-A Scranton after shaking off his slow start. His defense is pretty bad, so he’d fit right in with the Yankees (hardy har har), but at least there’s a shot at an offensive upgrade. Drew’s been terrible at the plate, has been going back to last season, and his leash shouldn’t be all that long. Slade Heathcott is doing well in his very (very) limited big league cameo. Maybe that will make the Yankees more willing to roll with another young player.

A Statistically Sentimental Reflection on Bernie Williams

I’ve always consumed baseball in some form for as long as I can remember. I played it growing up (and still play slow-pitch softball today) and my family always made an annual excursion to Yankee Stadium; given the time period–the late 90’s–it seemed like they won every time we went to games. And in this great stretch, despite being too young to fully appreciate what those teams were doing, I obviously enjoyed rooting for the team and the players. And my favorite player among them was Bernie Williams.

Bernie’s glory days with the Yankees were marked by incredible consistency by both him and the team. Once he started rolling and before his precipitous drop-off at the end of his career, Williams was guaranteed to hit near .300; OBP near .400; slug 20 homers; hit 25-35 doubles; and drive in around 100. From 1994-2002, his peak performance, Williams hit .319/.404/.525/.929, averaging 38 doubles, 27 homers, and 90 walks per 162 games. Among outfielders in that time period, his 141 wRC+ tied him with Sammy Sosa for 10th place in the Majors, just ahead of Ken Griffey, Jr. (140). He was 5th in fWAR (43.0), too, just ahead of Manny Ramirez (41.6) and just behind Larry Walker (43.9); everyone trailed Barry Bonds (76.4) by a whole lot.

His finest season came in 1998, when he won the batting title with a .339 average. In addition to that, he also posted a .422 OBP and a career high .575 SLG. He knocked 26 homers and 30 doubles despite playing in only 128 games (578 PA/499 AB). All told, Williams hit .297/.381/.477/.858 for his career, notching a 125 OPS+; a .373 wOBA; and a 126 wRC+. He hit .300 or better eight times; he OBPed .400 or better four times; he slugged at least .500 six times; and he hit .300/.400/.500 or better three times, all in a row from 1997-1999. He now sits in 10th place on the Yankees’ all time bWAR list (49.4); 6th on the Offensive WAR list (62.6); 6th on the games played list (2076); 6th on the runs list (1366); 5th on the hits list (2336); 6th on the total bases list (3756); 3rd on the doubles list (449); 7th on the home run list (287) and the RBI list (1257); and 5th on the walk list (1069). Bern, baby, Bern, indeed.

This all ignores the fact that Williams also shined in the playoffs, smacking 22 homers in 465 postseason at bats (545 PA) and posting a line of .275/.371/.480 with 71 walks, all remarkably similar to his regular season career line. He was the 1996 ALCS MVP, crushing the Orioles to the tune of .474/.583/.947/1.531 with two home runs and three doubles. The ALCS is when Bernie did his most playoff damage, posting a .962 OPS in 41 games.

Those are the statistics and in some ways, for me at least, they represent the sentiment. The teams Bernie played on were some of the best in Yankee history and I was there to watch them and he was my favorite to watch. I even went as far as to model my batting stance after him, his slightly crouched positioning speaking to me more than Paul O’Neill’s, Derek Jeter‘s, and Tino Martinez’s upright stances. Things obviously worked out a lot better for Bernie with that stance than they did for me. Imitation is how I appreciated Bernie and the rest of the team during that time. Now as an adult, a more well-rounded and educated fan, I can look back at these numbers and realize just how damn good Bernie was at hitting.

DotF: Sanchez homers in AA; Montgomery dominates in Low-A

I missed this yesterday, but Josh Norris posted some video of SS Jorge Mateo. Mateo, 19, came into today stuck in an ugly 2-for-31 (.065) slump that dragged his season batting line down to .243/.299/.313 (80 wRC+) with Low-A Charleston. He does still have 29 steals, second most in the minors, and remains one of the organization’s top prospects. The assignment to full season ball was a bit aggressive though, especially since Mateo played just 15 games in rookie ball last year due to a hand injury. I wonder if they’ll drop him down to a more age appropriate level (Rookie Pulaski?) when the short season leagues start in a month.

Also, Keith Law (subs. req’d) posted some scouting notes from this week’s trip to see Double-A Trenton. He said RHP Luis Severino‘s slider was the”best I’ve ever seen him throw” and added he is “comfortable saying Severino will end up with a plus slider and a plus changeup.” Law also touted relievers RHP Kyle Haynes and RHP Johnny Barbato for their arm strength but noted their command is lacking.

Triple-A Scranton (4-2 loss to Durham)

  • CF Mason Williams: 1-4, 1 RBI, 1 K
  • LF Ben Gamel: 0-3, 1 BB
  • 2B Rob Refsnyder: 1-4, 1 K — 35-for-97 (.361) with 12 walks (.436 OBP) during the 24-game on-base streak
  • DH Ramon Flores: 0-4, 1 K
  • RF Tyler Austin: 1-3, 1 R, 1 BB, 1 SB
  • RHP Bryan Mitchell: 6 IP, 7 H, 3 R, 3 ER, 4 BB, 4 K, 1 WP, 5/4 GB/FB — 57 of 99 pitches were strikes (58%)
  • RHP Nick Rumbelow: 3 IP, 2 H, 1 R, 1 ER, 0 BB, 3 K, 4/0 GB/FB — 24 of 35 pitches were strikes (69%) … with LHP Jacob Lindgren on his way to MLB, Rumbelow is arguably the team’s best relief prospect in the minors, and he might be next in line for a call-up among non-40-man guys

[Read more…]

Saturday Night Open Thread

Here is the open thread for this evening. The Mets are playing right now, MLB Network will air a regional game later on, and there’s both NBA and NHL playoff action on tonight. Talk about those games, this afternoon’s blowout loss, the imminent arrival of Jacob Lindgren, or anything else right here. Or go outside. It’s really nice out, at least it is here in the Big Apple.

Sherman: Yankees to call-up Jacob Lindgren on Sunday

(Presswire)
(Presswire)

According to Joel Sherman, the Yankees are planning to call-up top relief prospect Jacob Lindgren on Sunday. Branden Pinder, who threw 48 pitches on Saturday, will go down. The Yankees will have to clear a 40-man roster for Lindgren but that won’t be tough. Brendan Ryan is a 60-day DL candidate.

Lindgren, 21, was the team’s top pick (55th overall) in last summer’s draft as a quick-moving reliever out of Mississippi State. He has a 1.23 ERA (1.92 FIP) in 22 innings for Triple-A Scranton this season with a 31.5 K% and a 70.8 GB%. Lindgren’s numbers as a pro are ridiculous: 39.3 K% and 75.6 GB% in 46.2 innings at five different levels. Total domination.

Over the last few weeks, the Yankees have had Lindgren work longer than usual outings with the RailRiders. He’s gotten at least five outs four times in his last five appearances and threw 30+ pitches twice. Lindgren is no lefty specialist — I could see Joe Girardi using him in that role initially just to break him in — but he’s not a long man either. He’s a reliever who can go two innings if necessary.

The Yankees will have four lefties in the bullpen following the addition of Lindgren, but that doesn’t really matter. Justin Wilson and especially Andrew Miller can get righties out as well lefties, and Chasen Shreve‘s split-changeup gives him an effective pitch against right-handed batters too. Lindgren also projects to get both righties and lefties out thanks to his filthy slider.

Non-Miller and Dellin Betances relievers had a 4.09 ERA this season coming into Saturday, and that’s only going up after this afternoon’s debacle. Lindgren might suck too! Relievers tend to do that. But the guys the Yankees had weren’t working and Lindgren might be a solution. It was time to try it. The Yankees need lots more help to right this ship, but Lindgren’s a start.