Brett Gardner among Gold Glove finalists, again

(Tom Szczerbowski/Getty)
(Tom Szczerbowski/Getty)

For the second straight year, Brett Gardner is among the three finalists for the AL Gold Glove award in left field, MLB announced. He was a finalist back in 2011 as well. Gardner is up against Alex Gordon and Colby Rasmus. No other Yankees are among the Gold Glove finalists, which isn’t surprising. You can see all of this year’s finalists right here.

Gardner had a typical Brett Gardner season in left field this year, I thought. Both DRS (+12) and UZR (+3.5) liked his work out there, for what it’s worth. Gardner did make his fair share of highlight reel catches throughout the summer as well. These are the two most notable, I’d say:

Gardner has yet to win a Gold Glove, mostly because Gordon has been hogging it the last few years. Gordon has won four of the last five AL Gold Gloves in left field, with the only exception being last year, when Yoenis Cespedes won it despite splitting the season between the Tigers and Mets.

Gold Gloves are voted on by managers and coaches around the league — they’re not able to vote for their own players — plus there’s now a statistical component as well. Gordon missed some time with an injury, so if he gets dinged for that, Gardner just might sneak in and win himself a Gold Glove.

The Gold Glove winners will be announced Tuesday, November 8th. I’m pretty sure they’re announced during a live television broadcast these days. The other major awards (MVP, Cy Young, etc.) will be announced the following week.

Saturday Links: Fan Appreciation, Caps, Girardi, Refsnyder

This year's rookie hazing theme: Baby Bombers! (@Yankees)
This year’s rookie hazing theme: Baby Bombers! (@Yankees)

The Yankees and Blue Jays will continue their four-game series with the second game this afternoon. Until then, I recommend checking out Jeff Passan’s 25 things you didn’t know about baseball, plus these bits of news and notes.

Yankees holding Fan Appreciation Day

The Yankees announced they will hold a Fan Appreciation Day on Sunday, October 2nd, at Yankee Stadium. That’s the final day of the regular season, and the day of Mark Teixeira‘s farewell ceremony. Here’s the press release with all the details. In a nutshell, there are ticket discounts and seat upgrades and random prizes. All sorts of cool stuff. Best of all, everyone in attendance gets a voucher for two free tickets to a game next season. Nice work, Yankees. This is pretty great.

New Era logo coming to MLB caps

According to Chris Creamer, all MLB caps will feature the New Era logo on the left side starting this postseason. MLB’s contract with New Era was amended to include the logo recently, and this extends into the 2017 season. I’m not sure about beyond that. So yes, the iconic Yankees hat will have a New Era logo on the side next year, similar to this:

Yankees New Era hat

Hats were the last piece of the uniform that did not bear the manufacturer’s logo. In fact, Creamer says the Yankees are the only team in baseball exempt from having a Majestic logo on their jersey sleeves. I didn’t know that. The New Era logo is far more noticeable though, and frankly, it looks kinda amateurish. I’m sure I’ll get used to it, but right now I’m not a fan. Maybe put a smaller New Era logo on the back of the hat near the MLB logo?

Girardi among best bullpen managers

Earlier this week Rob Arthur and Rian Watt put together a study that attempts to measure bullpen management, essentially by comparing reliever quality and leverage index. Which managers have their best relievers on the mound in the most important situations, basically. According to their metric, the best bullpen manager since 2000 is Joe Torre, believe it or not. He was 13% better than average. Joe Girardi and Ozzie Guillen are tied for second at 11%.

Two things I found interesting about Arthur’s and Watt’s work: One, there’s not much correlation in bullpen management from year-to-year. A manager can have a good year one year and a bad one the next. I imagine reliever quality, which is very volatile, has a lot to do with that. And two, the difference between the best and worst bullpen managers is only about a win across a full 162-game season. That seems low, but remember, ultimately it’s up to the pitcher to perform. The manager doesn’t pitch. Even great pitchers have bad outings.

Refsnyder a Marvin Miller award finalist

Through fan voting, Rob Refsnyder has been selected as the AL East finalist for the Marvin Miller Man of the Year award, writes Bryan Hoch. The award is given annually to the player “whose on-field performance and contributions to his community inspire others to higher levels of achievement.” The winner is picked through a players-only vote, and the MLBPA will donate $50,000 on behalf of the winner to the charity of his choice.

Refsnyder has been working to raise money for A Kid’s Place, which helps Tampa area children who have been removed from their homes due to abuse or neglect. He designed and is selling a t-shirt through Athletes Brand, with all proceeds this month going to the charity. The other division finalists for the Man of the Year award include two ex-Yankees: Curtis Granderson, David Robertson, Anthony Rizzo, Lance McCullers Jr., and Justin Turner.

2016 Minor League Awards


What a wild year for the farm system. Thanks to their trade deadline dealings, the Yankees both added (through trades) and subtracted (through call-ups) some serious talent from the minor league system this year. The Yankees are calling it a transition, not a rebuild, but either way the message is clear: the team is going young now. The kids are getting a chance to play.

New York’s eight (eight!) domestic minor league affiliates went a combined 447-363 (.553) this season, the third best record in the minors — only the Phillies (.595) and Mariners (.581) were better — and their third consecutive winning season. The 2013 season is the only time the system had a combined losing record in the last 35 years. Each of the top five affiliates went to the postseason and Triple-A Scranton won the Triple-A Championship Game. Pretty cool.

Now that the postseason is over, it’s time to hand out some awards for the minor league season. As always, these awards are totally subjective and completely meaningless. I have no authority whatsoever. This is just my look back at the season and a recognition for those who played well. This isn’t any sort of top prospects list. It’s a best performers list regardless of prospect status. That make sense? Good.

Here are my 2007, 2008, 2009, 2010, 2011, 2012, 2013, 2014, and 2015 awards posts. It blows my mind I’ve been doing this ten years already. Where does all the time go? Anyway, let’s dig into this season’s minor league awards.

Adams. (YouTube screen grab)
Adams. (YouTube screen grab)

Minor League Player of the Year: RHP Chance Adams
The transition from the bullpen to the rotation could not have worked any better for the 22-year-old Adams, who was the Yankees’ fifth round pick in the 2015 draft. He pitched to a 2.33 ERA (2.96 FIP) with a 29.1% strikeout rate and a 7.9% walk rate in 127.1 innings at High-A and Double-A this year. Only 15 of the 549 pitchers to throw at least 100 innings in the minors this season had a lower ERA — Adams allowed zero or one run in 17 of his 24 starts — and he never slowed down either; he struck out ten in 4.1 innings in his final start. Adams also led the farm system in strikeouts (144) despite being only seventh in innings. No player in the system was as consistently excellent as Adams this summer, and that’s why he’s my Minor League Player of the Year.

Minor League Pitcher of the Year: LHP Jordan Montgomery
It’s remarkable how many great pitching performances there were in the system this year. Remember how I mentioned only 15 pitchers had a better ERA than Adams this year? Well, three of the 15 were Yankees, including LHP Nestor Cortes, who led all the minors with a 1.73 ERA. Montgomery, who finished 11th in the minors with a 2.13 ERA, gets Pitcher of the Year honors over Cortes and LHP Dietrich Enns (fourth in ERA) because he threw more innings and missed more bats. Montgomery split the season between Double-A and Triple-A and he finished second in the system in both innings (139.1) and strikeouts (134), and his 2.86 FIP was 25th best in the minors among those 549 pitchers who threw at least 100 innings. This was a very close race. Ultimately, I went with Montgomery because he spent the entire season in the rotation; Cortes and Enns both spent time in the bullpen. (Adams isn’t eligible for this award as the Minor League Player of the Year.)

Minor League Hitter of the Year: 1B/OF Tyler Austin
Every year when writing this post, without fail, I come across a player who had a far better season than I realized. I knew Austin had a tremendous bounceback year. He didn’t get called up to the big leagues because the Yankees had nothing better to do. But a .294/.392/.524 (161 wRC+) batting line with 34 doubles and 17 homers in 107 games? Hot damn. A total of 771 players had at least 400 plate appearances in the minors this year. Austin ranked seventh in 161 wRC+. That’s incredible. What a monster season for our 2012 Minor League Player of the Year.

Breakout Player of the Year: RHP Chance Adams
Adams began the season as a guy with two reliable pitches, maybe three, and he finished it as a four-pitch starter who could pound the zone with everything. Usually when a prospect has a huge season like that, you’ll read a few scouting reports throughout the summer that downplay the statistical success and keep expectations in check. That didn’t happen with Adams. Every single scouting report was glowing. In fact, it seemed like scouts were more and more impressed with him as the season progressed. He was an interesting relief prospect a year ago this time. Now Adams is a bonafide starting pitching prospect not far from the big leagues who should receive top 100 consideration next spring.

Best Pro Debut: 2B Nick Solak
First rounder OF Blake Rutherford had an incredible pro debut, hitting .351/.415/.570 (171 wRC+) down in rookie ball, but he was limited to only 130 plate appearances because he signed late and suffered a hamstring injury in August. Solak, on the other hand, put up a .321/.412/.421 (155 wRC+) batting line with three homers and eight steals while batting 279 times in short season ball. The difference in playing time is too great to ignore. Solak had nearly as many walks (30) as strikeouts (39), and he had 25 multi-hit games against only nine multi-strikeout games. After spending three years at a major college program (Louisville), this year’s second round pick hardly missed a beat after transitioning to pro ball. Solak was outstanding.

Comeback Player of the Year: 1B/OF Tyler Austin
How could it be anyone else? A year ago Austin hit .240/.315/.343 (92 wRC+) during the regular season and was demoted from Triple-A to Double-A. The Yankees then designated for him assignment in September to clear 40-man roster space for another player, and he went unclaimed on waivers. No one grabbed him. Austin recently called that the “best thing that ever happened” because it put his career into perspective and showed him he needs to work harder to earn his way up the ladder. He did that and then some this season.

Bounceback Player of the Year (started slow, finished strong): SS Kyle Holder
The Yankees took Holder with their supplemental first round pick last year, the compensation pick for losing David Robertson, and because he’s a defense-first shortstop, he was quickly branded as the next Brendan Ryan. Why? Because people like to be miserable, I guess. Holder didn’t exactly prove doubters wrong during the first half of the season at Low-A either. He played 88 games this season around an injury, and in the first 44 games he hit an empty .274/.303/.327 (81 wRC+). In his last 44 games, Holder hit .304/.340/.364 (104 wRC+). That includes a .357/.396/.449 (145 wRC+) batting line in 23 games after coming off the DL. All told, Holder hit .290/.323/.347 (93 wRC+) in 374 plate appearances this year, which doesn’t jump out at you, but it’s promising given his defense and bat-to-ball skills (14.2% strikeouts). Holder started poorly and really finished strong. Nice rebound at midseason.

Most Disappointing Player of the Year: SS Jorge Mateo
Gosh, it was all so promising in Spring Training, wasn’t it? Mateo, who was coming off a big 2015 season in which he hit .278/.345/.392 (114 wRC+) with 82 steals as a 20-year-old Low-A and High-A, hit rockets all over the field during Grapefruit League play and dazzled with his speed. Remember this?

Oh yeah, that’s the good stuff. Mateo was poised for a huge breakout season, and for a while he was having it. He hit .299/.364/.485 (146 wRC+) with five home runs and 17 steals in 48 games through May, but it fell apart after that and he never really recorded. Mateo hit .240/.255/.283 (56 wRC+) in his final 323 plate appearances of the season, and in early-July he was suspended two weeks for an undisclosed violation of team policy. Rough. Rather than break out as one of the game’s elite prospects, Mateo hit .254/.306/.379 (99 wRC+) with only 36 steals this season. Unfortunately, it’s an easy call for this year’s Most Disappointing Player.

All-Minor League Teams

First Team Second Team Third Team
Catcher Kyle Higashioka Gary Sanchez Luis Torrens
First Base Tyler Austin Chris Gittens Kevin Cornelius
Second Base Nick Solak Thairo Estrada Abi Avelino
Shortstop Tyler Wade Jorge Mateo Hoy Jun Park
Third Base Donovan Solano Miguel Andujar Dermis Garcia
Outfield Dustin Fowler Cesar Puello Jeff Hendrix
Outfield Ben Gamel Mason Williams Timmy Robinson
Outfield Aaron Judge Blake Rutherford Mark Payton
Starting Pitcher Chance Adams Chad Green Yefrey Ramirez
Starting Pitcher Jordan Montgomery Josh Rogers Domingo Acevedo
Starting Pitcher Dietrich Enns Nestor Cortes Daniel Camarena
Relief Pitcher Gio Gallegos Jordan Foley Taylor Widener
Relief Pitcher Jonathan Holder Travis Hissong Andrew Schwaab

Lifetime Achievement Award: RHP Conor Mullee
It has been a very long and very difficult journey for Mullee, who finally reached the big leagues this season at age 28. He’s had three major elbow surgeries during his minor league career: Tommy John surgery in 2011, avulsion fracture surgery in 2012, and another avulsion fracture surgery in 2013. Basically, after Tommy John surgery, the new ligament did not graft to the bone properly, so it had to be attached elsewhere. And then the same thing happened again. Now there’s a screw in his elbow.

The Yankees drafted Mullee out of St. Peter’s in Jersey City in the 24th round of the 2010 draft. He had a 1.64 ERA (2.59 FIP) with a 22.7% strikeout rate and a 6.8% walk rate in 22 relief innings in rookie ball after turning pro, before the injuries set in. Mullee threw only five (five!) innings from 2011-13 due to the elbow issues, but he returned in 2014 and pitched well: 1.38 ERA (3.09 FIP) in 38.2 innings. Another solid season followed in 2015: 2.73 ERA (2.88 FIP) in a career high 58.2 innings.

Mullee opened this season in Double-A and was quickly promoted to Triple-A. A very strong start to the season (1.42 ERA and 2.02 FIP) earned him his first call-up in mid-May, and on May 16th in Arizona, Mullee made his MLB debut. It didn’t go well (1 IP, 0 H, 1 R, 1 ER, 3 BB, 1 K), but that’s okay. He’d made it. Mullee went up and down a few more times and finished the season with a 1.19 ERA (2.25 FIP) in 37.2 minor league innings, plus that one run allowed in three big league innings.

Mullee. (Presswire)

“It’s amazing,” said Mullee to Chad Jennings following his first call-up in May. “Coming back, I just wanted to play again and hopefully stay healthy and see what happens. I couldn’t have ever really dreamed to be here today, but I’m definitely happy to be here.”

Unfortunately, Mullee’s elbow betrayed him again in August, and he needed ulnar nerve decompression surgery, whatever that is. On the bright side, he was with the Yankees when he got hurt, so he earned big league pay and accrued service time while on the DL. Forty-three days of service time entitles the player to a $34,000 a year pension, and Mullee reached that. Good for him.

Over the last seven years Mullee has faced some serious adversity, including three major elbow surgeries before he even got out of rookie ball, but he stuck with it and was rewarded with a call-up this season. That’s pretty awesome. Mullee’s story is one of perseverance in a game that chews up and spits out arms year after year.

The Yankees and 2016’s major awards

(Maddie Meyer/Getty)
(Maddie Meyer/Getty)

We’re now less than two weeks away from the end of the regular season, meaning candidates for baseball’s major annual awards only have a handful of games remaining to state their cases. Outside of NL Rookie of the Year, which should go to Corey Seager easily, the other major awards in both leagues feature very tight races. Pretty fun.

The last Yankee to win a major award was Mariano Rivera, who was named 2013 AL Comeback Player of the Year after tearing his ACL in 2012. Prior to that you have to go back to Alex Rodriguez‘s 2007 MVP season. There is something of a Yankee bias in the awards voting; a Yankee usually needs to have a season far superior to everyone else to receive votes, a la A-Rod in 2007. If it’s close, the votes tend to go to the non-Yankee.

Anyway, as a reminder, the awards are all voted on following the end of the regular season but before the postseason. The playoffs have zero bearing on the major awards. They cover the regular season only. So, with that in mind, let’s preview the awards races and see where some Yankees may fit into the picture, if any.

Most Valuable Player

Is there an AL MVP favorite right now? I mean, of course it should be Mike Trout, but his teammates suck so he won’t win. For shame. I guess Mookie Betts is the favorite now almost by default. The other serious candidates (Manny Machado, Josh Donaldson, Jose Altuve) are on teams either fading in the standings or out of the postseason picture entirely. That matters in the voting for whatever reason.

The Yankees don’t have a legitimate MVP candidate this season. Their best all-around player has been Didi Gregorius, and sorry, he’s not MVP material. Gary Sanchez hasn’t been up long enough. Masahiro Tanaka? He’s the best and therefore most valuable player on the roster, though it takes an insane season for a pitcher to win MVP. You need to go 24-5 like Justin Verlander did in 2011. A no-doubt Cy Young season and more, basically.

Now, that doesn’t mean the Yankees will not have a player receive MVP votes. Hardly. Lots of weird stuff happens at the bottom of the ballot and I would not at all be surprised if Tanaka and/or Dellin Betances and/or someone else got a ninth or tenth place vote. Brian McCann, Mark Teixeira, and A-Rod received MVP votes last season, for example. Chances are at least one Yankee will get an MVP vote. No one on the roster will win though. Sorry.

Cy Young

Okay, now we’re talking. Tanaka is a legitimate Cy Young candidate along with Rick Porcello, Corey Kluber, Chris Sale, Jose Quintana, and Cole Hamels. Unlike the MVP ballot, which is ten spots deep, the Cy Young ballot is only five players deep, so it’s going to be tight. Here’s where Tanaka ranks in various stats among AL pitchers with enough innings to qualify for the ERA title:

Innings: 193.2 (seventh)
ERA: 2.97 (first! … Sale is second at 3.03)
FIP: 3.26 (second behind Kluber, 3.25)
WHIP: 1.06 (fifth)
Walk Rate: 4.4% (third)
Strikeout Rate: 20.5% (20th)
K/BB Ratio: 4.71 (seventh)
Ground Ball Rate: 48.6% (11th)
bWAR: 5.6 (second behind Kluber, 6.4)
fWAR: 5.1 (second behind Sale, 5.2)

Tanaka lags in strikeout rate, otherwise he’s top ten in pretty much every meaningful pitching statistic, including top three in more than a few. Of course, his 13-4 record isn’t very Cy Young worthy, and that’s going to hurt his case. I know Felix Hernandez won the Cy Young with a 13-12 record a few years ago, but that was because he was so much better than everyone else. His dominance was too great to ignore. As great as he’s been, Tanaka is not having that kind of season.

My guess right now is either Porcello or Kluber will win the Cy Young, likely Porcello because he’s up over 20 wins. Tanaka’s performance is on par with those two on a rate basis, and in many ways he’s been better. He’s by far the best Cy Young candidate the Yankees have had since CC Sabathia was in his heyday — Sabathia finished fourth, third, and fourth in the voting from 2009-11 — and I think Tanaka will finish in the top five of the voting, possibly even the top three.

Rookie of the Year

(Brian Blanco/Getty)
(Brian Blanco/Getty)

This is going to be interesting. Sanchez has had an unreal start to his career. He’s hitting .327/.399/.710 (190 wRC+) with 17 homers in 42 games as a full-time catcher, which is bonkers. It’s also only 42 games. If Sanchez plays every single game the rest of the season, he’ll finished with 54 games played. The fewest games ever played by a Rookie of the Year position player is 52, by Willie McCovey in 1959. Next fewest? Eighty-eighty by Ryan Howard.

At the moment Sanchez is first among all AL rookies in fWAR (+2.9) and is third in bWAR (+2.5). His primary competition: Michael Fulmer of the Tigers, the guy the Mets traded to Detroit along with Luis Cessa to get Yoenis Cespedes last year. Fulmer has a 3.03 ERA (3.89 FIP) in 148.2 innings. That works out to +2.5 fWAR and +4.7 bWAR. Fulmer’s been in the big leagues since April. Voters will have to figure out how to weigh 50-something games of Sanchez against a nearly a full season of Fulmer.

I’d love to see Sanchez win, but if I had a vote, it would go to Fulmer. The difference in playing time is too great. Sanchez is only going to play one-third of a season. One-third! He’s basically a rookie who had a hot start and time ran out before the league had a chance to adjust. At this point I expect Sanchez to receive some first place votes and I think he and Fulmer will finish one-two on the ballot in some order, with Tyler Naquin third. My money is on Fulmer winning right now.

Manager of the Year

Does Joe Girardi deserve Manager of the Year votes? If you believe the Yankees have no business being this close to the postseason race, then yes. If you watch every game and hang on every questionable move — questionable moves every manager makes, by the way — then no chance. Girardi’s had a pretty terrible year, strategically.

These days the Manager of the Year seems to go to the manager whose team most outperformed expectations, or improved the most from last season. This year that’s … Terry Francona? I guess John Farrell since the Red Sox were in last place a year ago. I really have no idea how the Manager of the Year voting will turn out. Girardi’s case is built on the Yankees selling and then getting hot for a few weeks in August and September. That will get him votes — Girardi has received Manager of the Year votes every season since 2009 — but probably ain’t enough to win.

Comeback Player of the Year

Gosh, who even are the Comeback Player of the Year candidates? Michael Saunders, I guess? Marcus Stroman probably would have won it with even an average season, but he hasn’t been able to do that. In recent years the Comeback Player of the Year has gone to players coming off major injury, like Matt Harvey and Prince Fielder last year. Chris Young (the pitcher) and Rivera are recent winners too. That could put Saunders in the lead.

With no obvious candidate, this is going to come down to the preference of the voters. Does Porcello deserve Comeback Player of the Year after his miserable 2015 season and average-ish career? Or is he just prime age player breaking out? Maybe Doug Fister should win. Or Robinson Cano. Or Chris Tillman. The Yankees’ best Comeback Player of the Year candidate is Sabathia, and as much as I love the big guy, he hasn’t been good enough to win the award. I’d bet on Saunders winning right now, though I have little confidence in that.

Saturday Links: Mateo, Instructs, Gurriel, Refsnyder


The Yankees and Red Sox will continue their four-game series with the third game later this afternoon. Here are some bits of news and notes to hold you over.

Mateo among Law’s most disappointing prospects

After blazing start to the season with High-A Tampa, shortstop prospect Jorge Mateo hit a wall in June and never really recovered. He finished the year with a thoroughly disappointing .254/.306/.379 (99 wRC+) batting line despite setting a new career high with eight homers. Mateo went 36-for-51 (71%) in steal attempts one year after going 82-for-99 (83%).

It’s no surprise then that Mateo is one of eight top 100 prospects who took a step back this season, according to Keith Law (subs. req’d). “Getting suspended for two weeks for an unspecified violation of team rules was just the tip of the iceberg … multiple scouts have told me they haven’t seen Mateo make anywhere near enough hard contact,” said his write-up. “(The Yankees) seem to have soured a little on his makeup and have clearly superior shortstop options elsewhere in the system.”

The Yankees were ready to trade Mateo to the Padres for Craig Kimbrel at the trade deadline last year and it wouldn’t surprise me to see them shop him for pitching this offseason. They have a ton of shortstops in the farm system, including the superior Gleyber Torres, and Mateo still has enough top prospect shine to headline a package for a quality young pitcher. Right now I think there’s better than a 50/50 chance Mateo is traded this winter. We’ll see.

Instructional League roster released

Earlier this week Baseball America (no subs. req’d) posted the Yankees’ Instructional League roster. Instructs start later this month and run through mid-November. The roster looks the same as always. Some top prospects but mostly recent draftees and international signees, and players who missed time to injury. Blake Rutherford is apparently healthy enough for Instructs after missing the end of the season with a hamstring injury, so that’s cool.

Yesterday we heard James Kaprielian faced hitters for the first time since being shut down with an elbow injury way back in April. He’s not on the Instructional League roster but could always be added and get some innings there. The Yankees want Kaprielian to pitch in the Arizona Fall League and Instructs would be a natural stepping stone. Also, Greg Bird will face living pitching in Instructional League for the first time since shoulder surgery. He’s not on the roster but that might have to do with the fact he’s technically a rehabbing big leaguer, not a minor leaguer.

Gurriel holds showcase for MLB teams

Cuban infield prospect Lourdes Gurriel Jr. held a workout for teams earlier this week in Panama City, reports Jesse Sanchez. There were 60 scouts in attendance and Gurriel did the usual: fielded ground balls, shagged fly balls, took batting practice, ran sprints, that sort of stuff. “I have been waiting for this moment and now it became a reality. This was my first step to the big leagues, God willing. I’m grateful for everyone who helped me get to this point,” he said.

Sanchez said scouts were impressed by Gurriel’s arm and physicality, though the consensus is he needs more at-bats against live pitching. I mean, duh. He hasn’t played in a competitive game in almost a year now. The expectation has always been that Gurriel will need to spend some time in the minors before helping a big league team, the same way his brother did. Yulieski, by the way, has hit .329/.350/.500 (129 wRC+) with three homers in his first 22 games with the Astros, so that’s going well.

Lourdes is not Yoan Moncada, but he’s pretty darn good. He’s working out for teams now even though he won’t sign until he turns 23 next month. Once he turns 23 he will no longer be subject to the league’s international spending restrictions, so teams can pay him whatever they want. The Yankees haven’t signed a big name Cuban player in a long time, not since Jose Contreras, so I really have no reason to think they’ll sign Gurriel. Maybe they’ll surprise me.

Refsnyder nominated for Marvin Miller award

Rob Refsnyder is the Yankees’ nominee for this year’s Marvin Miller Man of the Year award, the MLBPA announced earlier this week. The award is given annually to the player “whose on-field performance and contributions to his community inspire others to higher levels of achievement.” Fans can vote to select one finalist from each division. Here’s the ballot.

Refsnyder, who was born in South Korea and adopted by a family in California when he was three months old, has been helping raise money for a charity called A Kid’s Place, which helps Tampa area children who have been removed from their homes due to abuse or neglect. Refsnyder designed and is selling a t-shirt through Athletes Brand, with all the proceeds this month going to the charity. Pretty awesome. Well done, Ref.

Saturday Links: A-Rod, Rowson, Braves, Gardner


Later this afternoon the Yankees and Rays will continue their four-game series with the third game at Yankee Stadium. First pitch isn’t until 4pm ET, so here are some miscellaneous links to help you pass the time.

A-Rod expected to appear at Instructs

According to Brendan Kuty, Alex Rodriguez is expected to make an appearance at Instructional League later this month. As a special instructor, of course. Not as a player. “I’m very pleased to have somebody with Alex’s experience and time in the game to be able to share those experiences with our young players. Our best young players are all going to be part of Instructional League,” said farm system head Gary Denbo.

This year’s Instructs roster hasn’t been released yet but it’ll come out soon enough. It’s usually a collection of top prospects, recent draftees, and players who missed time due to injury. Greg Bird will face live pitching for the first time since shoulder surgery in Instructional League, for example. My guess is A-Rod will wind up spending a bunch of time with the team’s small army of middle infield prospects, specifically Gleyber Torres and Jorge Mateo.

Rowson joins Yankees

Minor league hitting coordinator James Rowson joined the Yankees earlier this week and has been with the team since, reports Dan Martin. Rowson has worked with Aaron Judge a ton over the years. “He’s trying to get comfortable here. Everything is new to him and he’s had his battles before and made the adjustments,” said Rowson. “He’s been through rough times, especially with the punch outs and he’s always come out on the other side. So I feel like he’s going to do that again.”

This is not all that uncommon, really. A handful of minor league coaches will join the big league team for a homestand in September pretty much every year. Every single one of the Yankees’ full season minor league affiliates qualified for the postseason this year though, so those coaches and instructors haven’t had a chance to come up yet. This isn’t Rowson’s first stint with the big league team and it won’t be his last. Chances are he didn’t join the team specifically to work with Judge.

Update: Minor league pitching coordinator Danny Borrell is with the Yankees as well, reports Chad Jennings.

Yankees to open SunTrust Park


The Yankees and Braves will open the brand new SunTrust Park with an exhibition game on Friday, March 31st next year, the Braves announced. Apparently only “A List Members” (season ticket holders) will be allowed to attend. Lame. Atlanta is moving into their new 41,500 seat ballpark just 20 years after moving into Turner Field. The Yankees and Braves opened Turner Field with an exhibition game in 1996 as well.

This year the Yankees closed out Spring Training with a pair of exhibition games at Marlins Park. Last year they played two at Nationals Park. The Cubs came to New York for two exhibition games in 2009, when the new Yankee Stadium opened. They do this stuff every year. Also, the fact this exhibition game is scheduled for March 31st suggests the 2017 regular season will begin on Monday, April 3rd. Next year’s schedule should be announced soon. Possibly next week.

Gardner nominated for Roberto Clemente Award

Brett Gardner is the Yankees’ nominee for the 2016 Roberto Clemente Award, MLB announced. Here are the nominees from each team. The award is given each year to the player who “best exemplifies the game of baseball, sportsmanship, community involvement and the individual’s contribution to his team.” Three Yankees have won the award: Derek Jeter (2009), Don Baylor (1985), and Ron Guidry (1984).

Amazingly, MLB turned an award recognizing community involvement — and an award named after an iconic player and a great humanitarian — into a popularity contest. Each nominee has an official hashtag and the player who receives the most votes on Twitter and Facebook will win. Incredible. MLB really knocked this one out of the park, eh? I’m sure fans will recognize each player’s off-the-field work and definitely not vote for their favorite player. No way.

Game 134: Bounce Back

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

Last night’s game was just one of those games. Every team has those throughout the season. You get blown out, the offense doesn’t do much … it happens. That’s baseball. Unfortunately the Yankees couldn’t really afford a game like that. The loss to the Orioles combined with the Tigers’ win means the Yankees are again 3.5 games back of Baltimore and Detroit for the second wildcard spot.

These next two games this weekend aren’t must wins, but they are incredibly important and the Yankees need to take advantage of these head-to-head matchups against the O’s. The easiest way to gain ground is to beat the team you’re chasing yourself. The Yankees have a chance to do that this weekend. They dropped the ball last night. Now they have to do what they did in Kansas City and win the next two games. Here is the Orioles’ lineup and here is the Yankees’ lineup:

  1. LF Brett Gardner
  2. CF Jacoby Ellsbury
  3. DH Gary Sanchez
  4. SS Didi Gregorius
  5. 2B Starlin Castro
  6. C Brian McCann
  7. 1B Mark Teixeira
  8. RF Aaron Judge
  9. 3B Ronald Torreyes
    LHP CC Sabathia

It’s another cool and cloudy night in Baltimore, though there’s no rain in the forecast, so that’s good. Tonight’s game will start a little after 7pm ET and you can watch on YES. Enjoy.

Awards Notes: Sanchez was named both the AL Rookie of the Month and AL Player of the Month for August. That’s pretty cool. He’s the first player to win both in the same month since Jose Abreu in July 2014. He’s the first Yankee to be named Rookie of the Month since Robinson Cano (September 2005) and the first Yankee to be named Player of the Month since Curtis Granderson (August 2011).