Saturday Links: Cashman, Gardner, 2018 Caps, Pitch Clock

(Presswire)
(Presswire)

Shohei Ohtani’s shotgun free agency is now underway and it’s only a matter of time until we hear he’s started meeting with teams. Three weeks. Three weeks and this Ohtani stuff will all be over. Here are some random bits of news to check out in the meantime.

Cashman named Baseball America’s Executive of the Year

A few days ago Baseball America named Brian Cashman their 2017 Executive of the Year. That tends to happen when you nail your on-the-fly rebuild, and go from selling at the 2016 trade deadline to getting to within one win of the 2017 World Series thanks to your young players. From the write-up:

“For years the players worked in the minor leagues thinking, ‘If I play well I might get traded because I am blocked.’ Cash has changed that culture to the point now where young players not only develop as Yankees but have the goal of playing at Yankee Stadium and helping a championship club,” (vice president of baseball operations Tim) Naehring said.

That’s a pretty interesting quote. I always wondered what it was like to be a prospect in the farm system when the Yankees were doing nothing but signing free agents all those years. On one hand, do your job and someone will want you. On the other hand, it couldn’t have felt good knowing a trade was coming. Anyway, this is the first time Cashman has won Baseball America’s Executive of the Year award, which they’ve been giving out since 1998, his first season as GM.

Gardner wins Heart & Hustle Award

I missed this a few weeks ago, but Brett Gardner won the 2017 Heart & Hustle Award, the MLB Players Alumni Association announced. It is given annually to “an active player who demonstrates a passion for the game of baseball and best embodies the values, spirit and traditions of the game.” One player from each team is nominated for the award, then the winner is selected through a player vote. Pretty cool.

Gardner, who is the longest tenured Yankee and unofficial team captain, has been New York’s nominee for the Heart & Hustle Award on five occasions now, though this was his first time winning the award. The MLBPAA has been giving out the award since 2005 and Gardner is the first Yankee to win it. (Todd Frazier won it last year.) I gotta say, Gardner winning something called the “Heart & Hustle Award” is pretty damn appropriate.

MLB unveils 2018 spring and batting practice caps

A week or two ago MLB unveiled their new 2018 Spring Training and batting practice caps. Considering some of the wacky designs we’ve seen the last few years (those pinstriped brims, man), these are pretty normal. Here are next year’s Spring Training and batting practice caps:

Home on the left, road on the right. (New Era)
Home on the left, road on the right. (New Era)

I hereby dub the new designs: fine. They’re fine. Also, the new caps are made with a lightweight polyester material, not the usual polyester material they’ve been using for years and years. The new caps are 26% lighter, so that’s cool. The new caps are already for sale at New Era and MLB.com.

MLB pushing for a pitch clock in 2018

According to Buster Olney, MLB is pushing for new pace-of-play measures in 2018, including the implementation of a pitch clock. The league has to power to implement rule changes unilaterally now, though they prefer to come to an agreement with the MLBPA. Labor peace is good. The pitch clock is seen as inevitable — the plan is a 20-second pitch clock like the one used in Double-A and Triple-A, though they may settle for 22-24 seconds — and there’s also talk of limiting mound visits.

I don’t think pace-of-play is as much of a problem as MLB seems to believe — I worry the league is blaming too many of their biggest problems (i.e. cultivating young fans) on pace-of-play — but I do think it is something that can improved. Give me a pitch clock and fewer mound visits. I’m all for it. I have no problem whatsoever with four hour games as long as they’re exciting. When it’s nonstop mound visits and pitchers staring in to get the sign, that’s when it gets dull. The less the players are standing around doing nothing, the better.

Yankees announce 2018 Spring Training schedule

(Presswire)
(Presswire)

Late Friday evening the Yankees announced their 2018 Spring Training schedule. Pitchers and catchers are due to report Tuesday, February 13th, and the first Grapefruit League game will be played Friday, February 23rd. Here are the key dates:

  • Pitchers and catchers report: Tuesday, February 13th
  • First workout: Wednesday, February 14th
  • Position players report: Sunday, February 18th
  • First full squad workout: Monday, February 19th
  • First Grapefruit League game: Friday, February 23rd (home vs. Tigers)

The Yankees will make two trips to the other side of Florida next spring, including once to play the Mets in St. Lucie on Wednesday, March 7th. The Mets will visit Tampa three days later. That Yankees close out their spring schedule with an exhibition game against the Braves at SunTrust Park on Monday, March 26th.

All told, the Yankees will play 33 exhibition games next spring, including 16 home games at George M. Steinbrenner Field in Tampa. The various networks will release their spring broadcast schedules in a few weeks. All networks have been scaling back their spring coverage in recent years — those midweek afternoon games don’t get good ratings, apparently — but a good 20-25 of those 33 games should be televised.

Eventually the complete spring schedule will be available right here. Spring Training season tickets are on sale right now. You can buy them here. Individual spring game tickets will go on sale sometime in January. The Yankees open the 2018 regular season on Thursday, March 29th in Toronto. The season begins midweek now to accommodate extra off-days during the season.

March 31st Camp Notes: Green, Adams, Montgomery, Lineup

At long last, Spring Training is over. The Yankees wrapped up their exhibition schedule tonight with a loss to the Braves at SunTrust Park. Gary Sanchez had the first (unofficial) hit in the ballpark’s history and Greg Bird had the first (unofficial) homer. Georgia boy Dustin Fowler drove in two with a rocket into the gap. Watch the video above. That kid can really lay into the ball when he gets something to hit.

Michael Pineda got the start and allowed three runs, all on a Freddie Freeman homer, in five innings. He struck out six and walked one in his final tune-up outing. Joe Girardi used a small army of relievers out of the bullpen. It was one of those “everyone gets to pitch!” exhibition games. The Yankees went 24-9-1 this spring. I believe I heard the YES broadcast say that is tied for the most spring wins in franchise history. Correct me if I’m wrong. Here are the box score and video highlights, and here is the rest of the day’s notes:

  • The Yankees announced Chad Green has been optioned to Double-A Trenton while Kyle Higashioka and Ben Heller were optioned to Triple-A Scranton. Green is going to Trenton so he and Jordan Montgomery, who is in Triple-A, can start the same days and both be lined up for the first time the Yankees need a fifth starter.
  • Chance Adams will start the season in Double-A, not Triple-A. That surprises me, though I don’t think this is a long-term thing. He’ll be in Scranton soon enough. The Yankees probably have some developmental benchmark they want him to hit before a promotion. [Josh Norris]
  • Right-hander Mark Montgomery has been released. He was a pretty big deal a few years ago. Relief pitcher prospects, man. Can’t trust ’em. Montgomery has already landed on his feet though — he’s signed with the Cardinals. [Josh Norris]
  • Tyler Webb did not make the Pirates as a Rule 5 Draft pick. He’ll go on waivers and be offered back to the Yankees should he go unclaimed. Because he’s a lefty with some Triple-A success, some team might grab him on waivers. [Adam Berry]
  • And finally, Girardi confirmed tonight’s lineup will be the Opening Day lineup. That means Sanchez second and Jacoby Ellsbury fifth. We’ll see how long it lasts. [Andrew Marchand]

That’s it, folks. Spring Training is over. The Yankees are heading back to Tampa to start the regular season against the Rays. Saturday is an off-day and Sunday is the season opener. That’s a 1pm ET start. Masahiro Tanaka vs. Chris Archer is the Opening Day pitching matchup.

Open Thread: March 30th Camp Notes

The Yankees celebrated the end of the Grapefruit League season with another win today. They scored nine runs in the top of the first. Gary Sanchez smacked a three-run home run and Ronald Torreyes followed with a two-run shot in the second. Look at Toe getting in on the act. He’s ready for the regular season. Greg Bird drew three walks, including two in that big first inning. Rashad Crawford came off the bench late to smack a two-run homer.

Luis Severino started and really labored through the first inning — he had no idea where the ball was going, none whatsoever — but he settled down and was fine after that. He allowed one run on five hits and one walk in five innings, striking out four. Adam Warren and Tyler Clippard each closed out their spring with a scoreless inning out of the bullpen. Here are the box score and video highlights, and here are the rest of the day’s notes from Tampa:

  • In case you missed it earlier, the Yankees have essentially finalized their Opening Day roster. Severino will be the fourth starter, Aaron Judge will be the right fielder, and Pete Kozma will be the utility infielder. They just need to make a move to get Kozma on the 40-man roster now.
  • Both Jordan Montgomery and Chad Green are lined up for the fifth starter’s spot. Montgomery will start April 6th and 11th with Triple-A Scranton while Green will start those same days with Double-A Trenton. That allows both to be ready for April 16th, the first day the Yankees will need their fifth starter. [Billy Witz]
  • CC Sabathia threw in a Triple-A game today rather than make the road trip this afternoon. He allowed eight runs on nine hits in four innings. Meh. Also, after being send down earlier today, Rob Refsnyder used one word to explain what he has to do to stick with the Yankees for good: “Rake.” [Erik Boland, Brendan Kuty]
  • Here is the early season plan for Gleyber Torres: three games at shortstop, two at third base, and one at second base each week. I assume the seventh day will be either a DH day or an off-day. Torres has never played third base in a professional game, though the Yankees had him work out there this spring. [Buster Olney]
  • Josh Norris has the day’s minor league lineups as well as video of Blake Rutherford hitting a home run. A left-handed hitter with a sweet swing wearing No. 23? I approve.
  • The Yankees wrap up the exhibition schedule tomorrow. They’ll be in Atlanta to face the Braves at brand new SunTrust Park. The game will begin at 7:30pm ET and you’ll be able to watch on YES, MLB Network, and MLB.tv. Michael Pineda is the scheduled starter.

Here is the nightly open thread. This afternoon’s game will be replayed on MLB Network at 6am ET, if you’re planning to be up early tomorrow. My recommendation: watch the top of the first and skip the rest of the game. MLB Network will have other games either live or on tape delay all night. The Nets and Islanders are both playing as well, so talk about those games or anything else here, as long as it’s not religion or politics.

Reminder: Don’t forget to vote in our Prospect Watch poll. Voting ends at 12pm ET tomorrow.

Spring Training Game Thread: Final Grapefruit League Game

So long, Tampa. (Presswire)
So long, Tampa. (Presswire)

This afternoon the Yankees are playing their final Grapefruit League game of the year. They still have one exhibition game remaining, tomorrow night at the brand new SunTrust Field in Atlanta, but this is the final game in Florida. Well, at least until the Yankees come back to play the first series of the regular season against the Rays at Tropicana Field. Just can’t escape Tampa, huh?

What to watch today? Well, Luis Severino for one. The Yankees unofficially announced their Opening Day roster this morning and Severino will be the fourth starter to begin the season. That doesn’t mean he’ll be the fourth starter all season. He’ll have to pitch well to keep the job, because there are other guys waiting for their chance. Either way, it would be nice to see Luis end the spring on a high note. Here is the Phillies’ lineup and here are the players the Yankees sent across the bay to Clearwater:

  1. CF Jacoby Ellsbury
  2. C Gary Sanchez
  3. 1B Greg Bird
  4. DH Chris Carter
  5. RF Aaron Judge
  6. LF Aaron Hicks
  7. 3B Ronald Torreyes
  8. 2B Rob Refsnyder
  9. SS Pete Kozma
    RHP Luis Severino

Available Pitchers: RHP Adam Warren, RHP Tyler Clippard, RHP Ernesto Frieri, RHP J.R. Graham, and RHP Matt Marsh are all expected to pitch. LHP Joe Mantiply, LHP Jason Gurka, LHP Nestor Cortes, and LHP Caleb Frare are all up from minor league camp to serve as the extra arms.

Available Position Players: C Wilkin Castillo, 1B Mike Ford, 2B Thairo Estrada, SS Cito Culver, 3B Miguel Andujar, LF Clint Frazier, CF Dustin Fowler, and RF Rashad Crawford will be the second string off the bench. C Radley Haddad, C Jorge Saez, SS Kyle Holder, and OF Billy McKinney are the extra players. Everyone is up from minor league camp for the day.

The internet tells me it is sunny and warm in Clearwater this afternoon. Pretty much perfect baseball weather. The game will begin a little after 1pm ET, and if you’re in the Philadelphia market, you can watch today’s game on TCN. If not, MLB.tv is your only option. Enjoy the game.

Open Thread: March 29th Camp Notes

The Yankees are officially Spring Training champions. They clinched baseball’s best record this spring with their win this afternoon. Neat. The Yankees are now 23-8-1 while the second place Cardinals are 20-8-4. Both teams have two games to play. Aaron Judge had two singles this afternoon and he even stole a base. So did Aaron Hicks, who drew a walk but did not have a hit. Ronald Torreyes doubled and Starlin Castro tripled.

Jordan Montgomery started and was solid again, allowing one run on six hits and a walk in five innings. He struck out four. Folks in attendance tell me Montgomery did give up quite a bit of hard contact, however. Ben Heller tossed two scoreless innings. He’s allowed one run in 13 innings this spring, though he also walked eight. That’s not good. Here is the box score. The game wasn’t televised, so there are no video highlights. Here are the rest of the notes from Spring Training:

  • Brian Cashman confirmed the Yankees have made a decision about their fourth starter. They just won’t tell us who it will be yet. As for the fifth starter, they’ll figure that out later. They Yankees will use off-days to skip their fifth starter the first two times through the rotation, and carry an eighth reliever instead. Joe Girardi added Luis Severino is not going to the bullpen. “We have an idea of what we’re going to do with him for the most part,” said the skipper. [Michael Kay, Bryan Hoch]
  • Earlier today the Yankees announced Tyler Wade has been sent to minor league camp. That means either Pete Kozma (yup) or Rob Refsnyder (nope) will get Didi Gregorius‘ open roster spot. Also, Kyle Higashioka‘s locker has been cleaned out, though the Yankees have not yet officially announced he’s been sent out. There are still 34 players in big league camp. [Erik Boland]
  • Still no word on the right field job. Girardi acknowledged the Yankees are still considering sending Judge to Triple-A. “He needs to play. That’s the bottom line,” said Girardi. I’m not sure what more Judge needs to do this spring. He’s hitting .345/.406/.569 with a 20.3% strikeout rate. [Hoch]
  • The Yankees will play their final Grapefruit League game tomorrow afternoon. Severino is starting and the game will be on MLB.tv.

This is the open thread for the night. MLB Network is showing a spring game on tape delay later tonight and the Knicks are the only local team in action. Not much to see tonight. Talk about anything but religion and politics here. Just don’t be a jerk.

Self-Promotion: I was on Eric Roseberry’s On Baseball Writing podcast, so check that out even though I am the most boring person in the world.

March 28th Camp Notes: Lineup, Ellsbury, Warren, Torreyes

The Yankees lost tonight, in their final home game of the Grapefruit League season. Aaron Judge clocked a solo home run as he continues to battle for the right field job. Tyler Wade also had a single, though his chances of making the Opening Day roster aren’t nearly as good as Judge’s. Gary Sanchez had a hit and a walk, and he also made an error. So did Greg Bird.

Earlier tonight I noted Masahiro Tanaka was four outs away from tying 2014 Justin Verlander for the most innings thrown in a scoreless spring since at least 2006, and it took exactly two batters for him to allow a run tonight. Single, double, run. That’s how the game started. My bad, yo. Tanaka finished the night with two runs allowed (one earned) in five innings. He struck out six. Dellin Betances came out of the bullpen and allowed a two-run homer. Here is the box score for tonight’s game. It wasn’t televised, so there are no video highlights. Here are the rest of the day’s notes from Spring Training:

  • Interestingly enough, Joe Girardi said tonight’s lineup could “very well could be similar” to the Opening Day lineup. The top of the lineup was, in order, Brett Gardner, Gary Sanchez, Greg Bird, Matt Holliday, Jacoby Ellsbury. Girardi said he likes Ellsbury in the fifth spot because he’s done well in RBI situations — he hit .298/.372/.442 (117 wRC+) with runners in scoring position last year — and has some pop. [Erik Boland, Brendan Kuty]
  • Girardi also said Adam Warren will begin the season in the bullpen (surprise surprise) and that they still haven’t made a decision about right field. The Yankees are learning toward Ronald Torreyes at shortstop though. I’d bet on Pete Kozma being the utility infielder in that case. I doubt they would let Wade sit on the bench like that. [Boland, Bryan Hoch]
  • Welcome back Jon Niese and Caleb Smith. Niese has signed a new minor league contract with the Yankees after being released a few days ago. It was reported the plan is to send Niese to Extended Spring Training to build arm strength. Smith, meanwhile, was returned by the Cubs as a Rule 5 Draft pick. [George King]
  • The starting pitchers the rest of the week: Jordan Montgomery (Wednesday), Luis Severino (Thursday), and Michael Pineda (Friday). I imagine that means CC Sabathia is throwing a simulated game either Wednesday or Thursday. He’s starting the second game of the regular season and Pineda is starting the third. [Hoch]
  • Shane Hennigan has the day’s minor league lineups, if you’re interested in such things. The minor league regular season will begin next Thursday, April 6th. Can’t wait.

Only three games left this spring! The Yankees will be on the road to take on the Blue Jays tomorrow afternoon. There’s no broadcast for that one, but, on the bright side, it will be the final Yankees game you can’t watch this year. Thursday’s and Friday’s game will be available either online or on television.