Saturday Links: Teixeira, Forbes, Martin, 2017 WBC


The Yankees and Mets continue the Subway Series a little later this afternoon. Here are some stray links to help you pass the time.

Teixeira named 2016 Roberto Clemente Award nominee

Mark Teixeira has been named the Yankees nominee for the 2016 Roberto Clemente Award, MLB announced. Each team nominates one player and the winner is determined by fan voting. Here’s the ballot. The Roberto Clemente Award is given annually to the player who “best exemplifies the game of baseball, sportsmanship, community involvement and the individual’s contribution to his team.” Derek Jeter won it back in 2009. It’s a pretty big deal. The voting ends October 9th. Here’s the ballot again. Go vote for Teixeira.

Forbes ranks Yankees as third most valuable sports franchise

According to the latest Forbes rankings, the Yankees are the third most valuable sports franchise in the world at $3.2 billion. Only the Dallas Cowboys ($4 billion) and Real Madrid ($3.26 billion) are more valuable. Well, technically the Yankees are tied with the New England Patriots at $3.2 billion, but who cares about them. Forbes valued the Yankees at $3.2 billion back in March — the Dodgers are a distant second among MLB teams at $2.4 billion — and they post their updated MLB franchise valuations during Spring Training each year.

Martin scraps slider for curveball

Earlier this season, righty Chris Martin was higher up on Joe Girardi‘s bullpen depth chart than I think most of us realized, but he struggled for a while and eventually wound up on the DL with an elbow injury. The Yankees sent Martin to Triple-A once he got healthy, and, according to Billy Witz, Martin dropped his slider in favor of a curveball while with the RailRiders.

Martin hasn’t pitched a whole lot this month, so we haven’t seen the new curveball yet. He told Witz he was better able to control his slider, but the curveball gets more swings and misses, and that’s a trade-off he’s willing to make. I’m not sure Martin will be with the Yankees beyond this year — there’s going to be a big 40-man roster crunch this offseason and Martin’s expendable — but he has a new pitch now, and maybe that will help him stick around the big leagues a few more years.

2017 World Baseball Classic qualifiers coming to Brooklyn

Earlier this week, MLB announced qualifying games for the 2017 World Baseball Classic are coming to Brooklyn. The four-team pool includes Brazil, Great Britain, Israel, and Pakistan, and they’ll play their round robin tournament from September 22nd to 25th next year at MCU Park in Coney Island. The winner of the pool advances to the 2017 WBC. MCU Park is really great. One of my favorites. This isn’t Yankees-related, but baseball in Brooklyn is still cool. Anyway, here is the full WBC qualifying round information.

2015 Minor League Awards

The Staten Island Yankees won their division in 2015. (Robert Pimpsner)
The Staten Island Yankees won their division in 2015. (Robert Pimpsner)

Moreso than at any other point in the last, I dunno, 10-15 years or so, the Yankees dipped into their farm system for help this summer. Whether it was the bullpen shuttle, injury replacements, or late-season call-ups, the Yankees showed faith in the young players and have largely been rewarded at the Major League level. That alone qualifies 2015 as a good season for the farm system.

The Yankees welcomed yet another affiliate to the organization this year in the rookie level Pulaski Yankees. The team’s eight (!) domestic full season affiliates went a combined 422-403 (.512) this summer, giving them back-to-back winning seasons in the minors. (The system had an overall losing record in 2013 for the first time in at least 30 years.) None of the affiliates won a championship but Pulaski, Short Season Staten Island, and Triple-A Scranton all qualified for the postseason. Staten Island advanced to the Championship Series.

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 with 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, and 2014 awards posts. Hard to believe I’ve been doing this nine years already. Time flies, man.

Minor League Player of the Year: OF Ben Gamel
After spending the last two seasons as a light-hitting, somewhat interesting outfield prospect at High-A Tampa and Double-A Trenton, the 23-year-old Gamel broke out in 2015 and was the best player in the farm system from start to finish. He hit .300/.358/.472 (138 wRC+) in 129 games with Triple-A Scranton and led the system in both hits (150) and extra-base hits (52). Gamel ranked third in doubles (28), first in triples (14), eighth in homers (ten), and second in plate appearances (592). His defense reportedly improved as well, so much so he took regular turns in center field down the stretch for the RailRiders. If there was voting for this award, I think it would be unanimous. Gamel was that much better than everyone else in the system in 2015.

Minor League Pitcher of the Year: RHP Luis Severino
Severino is in the big league rotation right now, but he spent the majority of the season in the minors and finished the year with the 19th most innings in the system (99.1) despite getting called up in early-August. The 21-year-old had a 2.45 ERA (2.45 FIP!) with Double-A Trenton and Triple-A Scranton this summer, striking out 24.8% of batters faced while walking only 6.8%. Among the 25 pitchers who threw at least 80 innings in the system this summer, Severino ranked fourth in strikeout rate and third in K/BB ratio (3.63). The guys ahead of him are all older, pitched at a lower level, or both. Even in an abbreviated minor league season (abbreviated for a good reason, of course), Severino was the best pitcher in the organization this year. Honorable Mention: RHP Brady Lail and LHP Jordan Montgomery

Minor League Hitter of the Year: C Gary Sanchez
By self-imposed rule, the winner of my Minor League Player of the Year award is not eligible for the Hitter or Pitcher of the Year award, because that would be boring. Gamel would win this too. Sanchez, 22, gets the hitter honors instead after hitting .271/.329/.476 (131 wRC+) with 23 doubles and 18 home runs in 96 games split between Double-A Trenton and Triple-A Scranton. Even though it feels like he has been around forever, Sanchez was still two and a half years younger than the average Eastern League player this year. He was eighth in doubles and second in homers in the system — his 18 homers were fourth most among catchers in the minors, the leader had 20, and the three guys ahead of Sanchez all played at least 12 more games — despite, you know, being a catcher. Catching is hard. Honorable Mention: OF Aaron Judge and 1B Greg Bird

Breakout Player of the Year: RHP Rookie Davis
A 3.86 ERA in 130.2 innings doesn’t jump out at you, but the 22-year-old Davis broke out this summer thanks to his greatly improved command and control. He went from middling strikeout (19.1%) and walk (7.6%) numbers with Low-A Charleston in 2014 to a very good strikeout rate (23.5%) and an excellent walk rate (4.7%) with High-A Tampa and Double-A Trenton in 2015. That 3.86 ERA comes with a 2.47 FIP, 11th lowest among the 569 pitchers to throw at least 100 innings in the minors this year. Simply put, Davis improved his prospect stock more than any other player in the system this summer, and that’s why he gets the award. Honorable Mention: RHP Domingo Acevedo and RHP Cale Coshow

Best Pro Debut: OF Trey Amburgey
This was not an easy call. Several 2015 draftees and international free agent signees has big debuts in their first taste of pro ball, but Amburgey, New York’s 13th round pick this summer, was better than all of them. The 20-year-old from Florida’s east coast hit .335/.388/.502 (161 wRC+) with 12 doubles, six triples, five homers, and 21 steals in 25 attempts (84%) in 62 games for the Rookie GCL Yankees and Short Season Staten Island. Amburgey also had a solid 15.5% strikeout rate in his first summer as a professional. What a beast. Honorable Mention: OF Carlos Vidal and SS Wilkerman Garcia

Comeback Player of the Year: LHP Dietrich Enns
Enns, 24, blew out his elbow last May, had Tommy John surgery, and returned to the mound this June. In 58.2 carefully monitored innings across 12 starts and one relief appearance, Enns posted a 0.61 ERA (2.39 FIP) with a very good strikeout rate (23.7%) and an acceptable walk rate (8.6%) considering location is usually the last thing to come back following elbow reconstruction. Almost 1,900 pitchers threw at least 50 innings in the minors this year (1,393 to be exact). None had a lower ERA than Enns. Honorable Mention: OF Slade Heathcott and OF Mason Williams

Bounceback Player of the Year (started slow, finished strong): 2B Gosuke Katoh
Last season was very rough for Katoh, who followed up his brilliant pro debut with the Rookie GCL Yankees in 2013 with a .222/.345/.326 (96 wRC+) batting line with Low-A Charleston in 2014. Katoh, 20, returned to the River Dogs this year, and hit a weak .161/.264/.202 (42 wRC+) in 39 games before the Yankees pulled the plug. They sent him back to Extended Spring Training for a few weeks before assigning him to the new Rookie Pulaski affiliate. With Pulaski, Katoh hit .287/.426/.416 (143 wRC+) with nine doubles, five homers, 49 walks (!), and 61 strikeouts in 59 games. The end result is a .240/.365/.331 (104 wRC+) batting line on the season. Considering how he started with Charleston, that’s pretty incredible. Honorable Mention: 3B Miguel Andujar and LHP Caleb Smith

Most Disappointing Player of the Year: OF Tyler Austin
This was supposed to be The Year. The year Austin was finally healthy, finally able to prove himself at Triple-A, and maybe even get called up to the show. Instead, he was dropped from the 40-man roster earlier this month to make room for a September call-up, and sailed through waivers unclaimed. Ouch. Austin, 24, hit .235/.309/.311 (82 wRC+) in 73 games with the RailRiders before being demoted to Double-A Trenton, where he hit .260/.337/.455 (128 wRC+) in 21 games. That all works out to a .240/.315/.343 (92 wRC+) batting line with only 21 extra-base hits in 94 games. Yeesh.

All-Minor League Teams

First Team Second Team Third Team
Catcher Gary Sanchez Austin Romine Kyle Higashioka
First Base Greg Bird Chris Gittens Kane Sweeney
Second Base Jose Pirela Rob Refsnyder Thairo Estrada
Shortstop Jorge Mateo Tyler Wade Wilkerman Garcia
Third Base Eric Jagielo Cole Figueroa Donny Sands
Outfield Ben Gamel Trey Amburgey Austin Aune
Outfield Aaron Judge Jake Cave Dustin Fowler
Outfield Carlos Vidal Nathan Mikolas Jhalan Jackson
Starting Pitcher Luis Severino Rookie Davis Jonathan Holder
Starting Pitcher Brady Lail Chaz Hebert Cale Coshow
Starting Pitcher Jordan Montgomery Joey Maher Eric Ruth
Relief Pitcher Nick Goody Caleb Cotham Conor Mullee
Relief Pitcher Evan Rutckyj Alex Smith Johnny Barbato

Lifetime Achievement Award: C Austin Romine
Believe it or not, the 26-year-old Romine is the fifth longest tenured homegrown player in the Yankees organization. Only Ivan Nova (signed in 2004), Brett Gardner (drafted in 2005), Dellin Betances (drafted in 2006), and Jose Pirela (signed in 2006) have been with the Yankees longer than Romine, who was New York’s second round pick in the 2007 amateur draft out of a California high school.

Romine was a significant prospect at one time — he made Baseball America’s annual top 100 prospects list in both 2010 (No. 86) and 2011 (No. 98) — who has instead become a solid depth catcher who spent parts of four seasons in the big leagues. That includes the 2013 season, when he got an extended look as Chris Stewart’s backup (!). The Yankees removed Romine from the 40-man roster at the end of Spring Training this year and he then hit a solid .260/.311/.379 (99 wRC+) with seven homers in 92 games for Triple-A Scranton.

In parts of nine minor league seasons with the Yankees, Romine hit .270/.326/.396 (102 wRC+) with 58 home runs in 689 games and 2,832 plate appearances. His best full season was his first, when he put up an impressive .300/.344/.437 (120 wRC+) batting line with 10 homers in 104 games as the everyday catcher for Low-A Charleston. Romine did that as a 19-year-old catcher in his first full pro season. He was big time back then.

Things never did work out for Romine and the Yankees, though he became a solid organizational catcher who saw time in the big leagues and deserves credit for working with the young pitchers in the farm system. Guys like this are too often overlooked for their roles in the minors.

Saturday Links: Sabathia, Betances, 2016 Travel

"No you idiot, I said sell! SELL!" (Janette Pellegrini/Getty)
“No you idiot, I said sell! SELL!” (Janette Pellegrini/Getty)

The Yankees and Blue Jays continue their ultra-important four-game series with a doubleheader this afternoon. It’s a single-admission doubleheader too. One ticket gets you in the door for both games. Anyway, here are some miscellaneous links to help you pass the time before the first game.

Sabathia nominated for Marvin Miller Man of the Year award

CC Sabathia has been selected as the Yankees nominee for the 2015 Marvin Miller Man of the Year Award, the MLBPA announced. Each team nominates one player, who is selected by his teammates, for the award. Fans then vote for one finalist per division — the voting ends midnight tomorrow, by the way — and the players then vote for the winner. Here’s the fan voting ballot.

The Marvin Miller Man of the Year award goes to the player “whose on-field performance and contributions to his community inspire others to higher levels of achievement.” Mariano Rivera won the award in 2013. He’s the only Yankees player to win it since it was created in 1997. Carlos Beltran was last year’s nominee and was voted the AL East finalist. Just being nominated is an honor. Go vote for CC.

Betances will try new protective head gear next spring

Earlier this week, a representative from the MLBPA was in the Yankees clubhouse showing the pitchers new protective head gear, reports George King. This is not the head gear Alex Torres wears. It’s something new. This model has some sort of ear flap designed to protect the temples.

“I will try it in Spring Training to see how it feels. Anything for protection,” said Dellin Betances. Adam Warren, Luis Severino, and Justin Wilson also tried it on. The Yankees had a scare when Bryan Mitchell was hit in the face by a line drive a few weeks ago, and while a protective cap probably wouldn’t have helped him, it was a reminder of how defenseless those guys are on the mound.

Yankees will travel 12th most miles in 2016

The 2016 regular season schedule was announced earlier this week, and, according to Baseball Savant, the Yankees will travel 35,252 miles next season. That’s the 12th most in baseball. As usual, the Mariners will travel the most miles (47,704) while the Cubs will travel the fewest (24,271) in 2016. That has been the case for years and years and years. The M’s are isolated up in the Pacific Northwest — their closest division rival is 800 miles away — while the Cubbies are centrally located. Their farthest division rival is 460 miles away. The Yankees are always in the middle of the miles traveled pack. They’re a little higher than usual next season because they’re making three West Coast trips, not two. Blah.

Game 78: LAnaheim

(Jim McIsaac/Getty)
(Jim McIsaac/Getty)

The Yankees are on the West Coast for the final time this season even though it’s only June. That’s always nice. They just split a four-game series in Houston, and while that would have been disappointing the last few years, that’s a good outcome now because the Astros are good. Baseball is 2015 is weird, man.

CC Sabathia is getting the ball in tonight’s series opener against the Angels. Needless to say, Sabathia has to start pitching better. The Yankees are keeping him in the rotation because of his contract, which is dumb, so he needs to improve on his 5.65 ERA (4.49 FIP) to give the team a chance to make the postseason. I love Sabathia, he’s an all-time fave, but man he is just brutal right now. Here is the Halos’ lineup and here is the Bombers’ lineup:

  1. CF Brett Gardner
  2. LF Chris Young
  3. DH Alex Rodriguez
  4. 1B Mark Teixeira
  5. RF Carlos Beltran
  6. 3B Chase Headley
  7. 2B Jose Pirela
  8. C John Ryan Murphy
  9. SS Didi Gregorius
    LHP CC Sabathia

Pretty much a perfect night for baseball in Anaheim. Temperatures in the low-80s, nice and sunny, no humidity, just gorgeous. Tonight’s game is scheduled to begin at 10:05pm ET and can he seen on YES. Try to enjoy.

Injury Updates: We had a bunch of injury updates earlier, in case you missed it. Most importantly, Jacoby Ellsbury (knee) started a minor league rehab assignment with High-A Tampa. I assume the goal is to get him back off the DL when the homestand starts Friday.

Awards Update: Brett Gardner was named the AL Player of the Week, MLB announced earlier today. He’s the third Yankee to win the Player of the Week award this year, joining Mark Teixeira in April and Michael Pineda in May, and it’s Gardner’s third time winning it. He was also named Player of the Week in June 2013 and August 2014. Yay Brett.

Game 33: Time to get CC a win

(Leon Halip/Getty)
(Leon Halip/Getty)

Wins are a terrible way to evaluate a pitcher but that doesn’t make CC Sabathia‘s 0-5 record any less of an eyesore. The Yankees are 1-5 in Sabathia’s six starts and 19-7 whenever anyone else starts this year. Sabathia hasn’t picked up a win since April 24th of last season, nine starts ago. The Yankees are 1-8 in those nine starts since CC’s last personal win. That’s rough, man.

You know that’s wearing on Sabathia, who is fully aware of how poorly he’s pitched the last three years, and you know his teammates are aware of it as well. After all, they bear some responsibility for that 0-5 record. Despite his decline, Sabathia is still the leader of the pitching staff — and the team in general, for that matter — in the clubhouse, so you know everyone wants to get him that first win. Tonight’s a good night to do it, no? The Yankees are playing too well for their erstwhile ace to be 0-5. Here is Tampa Bay’s lineup and here is New York’s lineup:

  1. LF Brett Gardner
  2. RF Carlos Beltran
  3. DH Alex Rodriguez
  4. 1B Mark Teixeira
  5. C Brian McCann
  6. 3B Chase Headley
  7. CF Chris Young
  8. 2B Stephen Drew
  9. SS Didi Gregorius
    LHP CC Sabathia

Not a good weather night for baseball in St. Petersburg. It’s hot (low-90s) and grossly humid, and it’s supposed to rain a little later as well. Typical Florida, really. Thank goodness for Tropicana Field’s dome, I guess. Tonight’s game is scheduled to begin at 7:10pm ET and you can watch on YES. Enjoy the game.

Injury Updates: Masahiro Tanaka (wrist, forearm) threw long toss today and made ten pitches on flat ground, including some breaking balls and splitters. He will throw a 30-pitch bullpen session tomorrow, which will be his first time throwing off a mound since landing on the DL two weeks ago … Jacoby Ellsbury is fine, just a routine day off. He’s available off the bench if necessary.

Awards!: What happens when you strike out 16 batters in a game? You win an award, that’s what. Michael Pineda was named the AL Player of the Week today, MLB announced. He’s the second Yankee to be named AL PoW this season — Mark Teixeira won it two weeks ago — and the first Yankees pitcher to win it since Mariano Rivera in September 2011. Congrats, Big Mike.

Game 20: A Chance To Take Over First Place

(Mike Skobe/Getty)
(Mike Stobe/Getty)

First place is on the line tonight! Well, not really. It’s only April 27th. But still, the Yankees and Rays are currently tied atop the AL East with identical 11-8 records, so the winner of tonight’s game will have sole possession of first place. The Yankees have not held sole possession of the top spot in the AL East since May 18th of last season, and even that was only a half-game lead. The last time they led by at least one full game was May 13th, 143 regular season games ago.

The Bombers swept the Rays in Tampa Bay last weekend and now the two teams are set to play in the Bronx. Fun fact: tonight will be the Rays’ first outdoor game of the season. They’ve played their 19 games this year in Tropicana Field, Rogers Centre, and Marlins Park, which all have some sort of roof. Man, baseball indoors is drab. I’ll happily trade a few rainouts each year for stadium with no roof. Here is the Rays’ lineup and here is the Yankees’ lineup:

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

It’s a nice night for baseball in New York. A little cool and windy but nothing crazy. First pitch is scheduled for 7:05pm ET and you can watch on YES. Enjoy the game.

Awards!: Mark Teixeira was named the AL Player of the Week, MLB announced. He went 8-for-24 (.333) with five homers, four walks, and three strikeouts in seven games last week.

Mike Trout unanimously named AL MVP, Yankees shut out in voting

(Ronald Martinez/Getty)
(Ronald Martinez/Getty)

As expected, Angels outfielder Mike Trout was named the AL MVP on Thursday night, the BBWAA announced. He won unanimously. Trout won his first MVP in what was the worst of his three full seasons as a big leaguer. Weird. Victor Martinez of the Tigers and Michael Brantley of the Indians finished a distant second and third, respectively.

Not a single Yankee received an MVP vote. Not even a token tenth place vote. That hasn’t happened since 1992. I thought maybe Dellin Betances or Jacoby Ellsbury or Brett Gardner would sneak a bottom of the ballot vote, but I guess not. The Yankees had at least one player finish in the top five of the voting every year from 2002-13, thanks mostly to Alex Rodriguez and Robinson Cano. The full voting results are at the BBWAA’s site.