Sunday, January 22, 2017

CAN ELLSBURY BRING 'BOSTON' BACK TO HIS GAME?

Source: Rich Schultz/Getty Images North America

I came across an interesting read this week via The Daily News and I'm engaged and cautiously excited that we could get more production from Jacoby Ellsbury this season.  "We looked at all the video from his really big year in Boston, and his contact point was probably 3-4 inches more," (Yankee hitting coach Alan) Cockrell said. "So we tailored his cage routine and his maintenance work, and tailored it to where we're moving contact not a lot, not a foot, not a foot-and-a-half, but just 3-4 inches more in front of his body."

Source: Jim McIsaac/Getty Images North America

3-4 inches doesn't seem like much but to a hitter, it could be miles, much like 3-4 seconds or 3-4 minutes could be for a runner.  What does it take to teach a veteran hitter like Ellsbury, who is 33, to make a change in his form that could pay high dividends?   According to The Collegiate Baseball Newspaper, "You have to teach your hitters good mechanics, identify what pitch each guy hits the best, where that pitch needs to be in the strike zone, and work a plan to get into hitter’s counts." But this takes time and research and a change in the hitter's form. Much like a swimmer or a runner who needs to change his/her form in order to move faster or move without injury, you have to create good muscle memory and this takes time.

Source: Mike Carlson/Getty Images North America

According to Cockrell and The News, "We talked about it at times last year," he said. "But it's one of those mid-season things where it feels awkward and it's tough to go out and play every night and think about something like that, so this is something that we'll talk about in spring training."

Source: Ed Zurga/Getty Images North America

So if Ellsbury did some work during the off season and if the cage routines are regimented to include these shifts in form necessary to give him the opportunity to hit his "sweet spot" then we could see some quality hitting from our center fielder.

Source: Rich Schultz/Getty Images North America

According to the News Ellsbury, "has not lived up to expectations since signing a seven-year, $153 million deal in 2014. In his first three seasons with the Yankees, he's produced an underwhelming .264/.326/.382 batting line. Manager Joe Girardi has broached the idea of possibly separating Brett Gardner and Ellsbury at the top of the batting order, GM Brian Cashman said."

Source: Rich Schultz/Getty Images North America

Lots of possibilities but at the end of the day, it is about outcomes and that's what we need to see in a guy like Ells who needs to perform at his best every night.  Sure, we all have bad days and bad weeks, but we need more from Jacoby on a consistent basis and what better time than right now.



--Suzie Pinstripe
BYB Managing Editor
Twitter: @suzieprof







https://www.victoriassecret.com/














Saturday, January 21, 2017

YANKEE PROSPECT WATCH: JUSTUS SHEFFIELD


As we approach the home stretch to spring training and our Yankees prospect watch series, we will follow up on number seven prospect Miguel Andujar with a newly acquired member of the Yankees organization, number six prospect according to MLB.com, LHP Justus Sheffield.

(Photo: Mike McCann/WFAN)
Acquired from the Indians along with Clint Frazier and two other prospects, Ben Heller and J.P. Feyereisen, in the Andrew Miller deal, the former first round pick out of Tullahoma High School in Tennessee is currently ranked as the 78th best prospect in all of baseball according to MLB.com and the Yankees top pitching prospect.

Topping out at 97 and sitting in the 93 mph range, Sheffield has good arm-side life on his fastball and adds a slider and a changeup to his three pitch repertoire. When asked, Yankees GM Brian Cashman had some very good things to say about Sheffield as reported by the New York Daily News:

Photo: New York Daily News
"Justus Sheffield is sitting, if not at the top, towards the top of our pitching prospect side,” says Cashman. “He’s right up there with (James) Kaprielian, Chance Adams and (Luis) Severino, fighting for ‘I’m the best.’ Who’s to say he is or isn’t? Sheffield’s a three-pitch mix guy -- fastball, changeup, slider. He’s a 20-year-old that sits at 93 (mph) and tops out at 97, with an above-average slider and above-average changeup. We’ve been very excited about his makeup and development.”


Last season Justus began the season in high-A Lynchburg in the Indians organization before heading to high-A Tampa once acquired by the Yankees. In Tampa Sheffield got off to a great start in the Yankees system going 3-1 with a 1.73 ERA over five starts while striking out 27 over his 26.0 innings pitched. His success in the Gulf Coast League prompted the Yankees to give him a start with Double-A Trenton in which he allowed just two hits over four innings while striking out a very impressive nine batters!

For his career, Sheffield has averaged over a strikeout and inning and his slider is a good swing and miss pitch. He has walked 3.3 per nine innings pitched though and will have to continue to develop better command and make better pitches within the strike zone.

  (Four Seam Images/AP)
Although there is improvement to be made, as there is with all 20 year-olds (Sheffield turns 21 in May), there is a lot of upside and Cashman has already said that the 20 year-old will begin the season with Trenton, a very good challenge for the young man.

Photo of: Jordan Montgomery
Along with the above mentioned young men, James Kaprielian, Chance Adams and Luis Severino, the Yankees have a great group of young pitching prospects who are not too far away from the big leagues and a couple like Jordan Montgomery and Dietrich Enns who are knocking on the door. If even two or three of those six become legit middle-to-front of the rotation starters, the Yankees should be set up for success for the foreseeable future. As much as some have given Brian Cashman a hard time, the last two years or so he has really built a formidable list of prospects that should propel the Yankees back to the glory days in just a few short years, hopefully sooner!

Sheffield has the makings of a two or three type starter. He had a hiccup in 2015 in in which he was arrested for aggravated criminal trespassing and underage drinking and although he is ashamed of it, he sees it as a learning experience and a chance to continue to mature. He seems to have moved on, grown up and by all accounts, minus the one blemish, has a very good reputation.

Photo: Scout.com
I will be following Justus and the rest of the arms closely this summer as they continue their journey that we all hope will lead to success in the Bronx. Even my dad, who has been very disappointed in the Yankees and lost some interest over the past few years, says he is excited about the youth movement and watching the kids this summer!

Next week we dive into the top five as we profile one of the most inexperienced prospects but also one of the kids with the highest upside, 2016 first round pick, OF Blake Rutherford.

We are less than four weeks away from pitchers and catchers… Not that I’m counting.



--Dan Lucia

BYB 'Series' Writer
Follow me on Twitter: @DManLucia




Macy's


DELLIN'S FIGHT

Photo: MLB.com
Dellin Betances ready to hold the Yankees' feet to fire in arbitration. That is the titled of the New York Post's story about Dellin Betances and his upcoming arbitration case.  While I believe in fighting for your worth, and I know the Betances did a pretty decent job for us early on... I'm not sure I agree with this one.


The Post writes:

"Dellin Betances’ grip on the business of baseball is as firm as the hand that smothers the baseball when he delivers fastballs that look like aspirins and bowel-locking curveballs.

With Betances and the Yankees $2 million apart and headed for an arbitration hearing in Betances’ initial dance with the process, the three-time All-Star said he believes the $5 million he asked for is a righteous request.

'I felt that was a good number for us,’ said Betances, who is represented by Jim Murray. 'What I have done for the first three years for the team, we are asking for a fair number and I just want to be treated fairly. That’s all I ask to be honest with you.'"

(Rich Schultz/Getty)
I wish the kid well. 

My opinion on this is simple. I feel like Dellin didn't get the closing gig, feels like he should of had it, and this is his way of making a point.  I could be wrong, but that's how I feel. In the end, maybe they meet in the middle.  In the end, maybe he gets nothing and has to show up to Spring Training alittle more humble... or maybe he gets it all and comes out ready to play.  Whatever the case, I know that Betances is a gamer. I know he will still work hard no matter what. 

But it's about business... and that's what is happening now.  I wish the kid well.  I really do... I just hope he gets what he needs.

Good luck Dellin.

Happy Saturday.



American Eagle


Friday, January 20, 2017

"WE'RE ALL IN!"


I'm just guessing, but something tells me the length of an eternity is different depending on whether you're a Yankee fan or you're a Yankee owner.

Jennifer Steinbrenner Swindal, perhaps better known to Yankee fans as the Boss's daughter or the new boss Hal's sister, said this past Wednesday that her family intends to keep the team in the family for eternity. 

“We’re all in,” Swindal told Dan Martin of the New York Post. “I hope we own the team for eternity. You never know what life will bring, but we’re in it for the long haul.”

Photo: New York Post
Swindal, one of the team's general partners whose primary responsibility is to oversee the team's many philanthropic endeavors, said that ever since her father became too ill to run the team, the four Steinbrenner siblings have pitched in to make things work and now the entire family is more involved than it ever was before. She credits Hal's leadership with pulling them all together, and added that with her son Steve Swindal Jr. coordinating baseball operations the third generation of Steinbrenners is now not only fully invested but involved full-time in running the team. 

Photo: SI.com
Now, I know there are some Yankee fans out there who feel like it's been an eternity since our last championship and are probably less than enthused by  Hal's tight grip on the free-agent purse strings these last two winters and a rotation filled with more fault lines than San Francisco Bay.


So maybe the revelation that the team's ownership isn't likely to be changing in their lifetime -- or even in their after lifetime--  isn't the kind of news they want to hear right now. 

But those fans should take some solace that further on in Martin's article, he referenced comments made by  Brian at the Hard Rock Cafe only the day before that shucking the salaries of Alex, Tex and CC at the end of this year should put the team in a position where "at the end of the day, we are going to be in a position to do a number of things and maybe we can turn the clock back to be big-game hunters that we have been accustomed to being.”

(Aug. 6, 2016 - Source: Jim McIsaac/Getty Images North America)
Brian Cashman's no fool and he understands exactly what "turn the clock back to be big-game hunters" is code for in Yankee Universe. 

(Aug. 16, 2016 - Source: Jim McIsaac/Getty Images North America)
And knowing how he likes to play it small when it comes to deal-making -- and even smaller still when it comes to managing expectations where it involves Checkbook Hal's budget fetish -- his Hard Rock remarks can only mean that with the savings realized from those expiring fossil contracts and a few others, if even one or two farm kids can stick with El Kraken in the Bronx this year then Hal will at long last bag his elusive unicorn of bringing payroll under the competitive balance tax threshold. 

Then it's lock and load time for B'wana Brian. 

Remember, the winter of 2008? There was no Hot Stove that year. There was just Brian on a search and destroy mission with Hal feeding him ammo while the rest of the league howled and ran for cover.



Most seem to forget Hal wasn't always a tightwad. He dropped nearly a half billion dollars the first time  his father's team missed the postseason. The problem then was dad had already been running payroll well beyond the tax threshold for years, so the business model was already strained. Large extended contracts to multiple players with big mileage on their odometers had win-now-pay-sooner-than-later stamped all over it. But it was a must-win situation and so they won. Man, did they ever. It was a sight to behold.  The aftermath, though, has been a slow rot drawn out far too long by an obsessive love affair with past glory and a blind eye to new romances that has allowed far too much young talent to languish or flee the system unrequited.

This time, with the tax rate reset, leveraged by a farm loaded top to bottom with recognized prospects and a checkbook that no longer automatically adds 50 cents to every dollar he writes, Brian would be in a unique position to loot the 2019 free agent zoo and beyond at the end of this year -- before the cages are even unlocked. The team could conceivably be stacked for a serious run at a ring exactly one year from this  Opening Day. And thanks to the new focus on player development, the model should be sustainable for quite some time.

(Oct. 1, 2016 - Source: Mike Stobe/Getty Images North America)
A big hairy Harper, a man-eating Machado, a killer Kershaw and a few other critters would make nice trophies for a big-game hunting GM trying to lead his team out of the jungle to championship contention. 

And for the owner who's tantalizingly close to bagging his personal unicorn, what better way to celebrate the end of his quest than to send his GM out on a new mission.

The team may not be making all the moves we'd like to see as quickly as we'd like to see them. But all the moves are  being made with winning, spending, family and eternity in mind.

Meet the new boss... same as the old boss.



 --Barry Millman
BYB Writer
Follow me on Twitter: @nyyankeefanfore
  



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LUIS SEVERINO: BULK OR FLEXIBILITY?

Photo: Getty Images
There's been a lot of talk about the Yankees starting rotation.  Masahiro Tanaka is undoubtedly the staff ace. Sabathia is getting old and appears to have lost something. That being said, he's reinventing himself and learning to pitch differently.

(Sept. 29, 2016 - Source: Al Bello/Getty Images North America)
Michael Pineda?  This guy's got "the stuff", but is way too inconsistent and frustrates fans. Behind those 3 though, is a mish-mosh of inexperienced youth and question marks.

(Sept. 25, 2016 - Source: Tom Szczerbowski/Getty Images North America)
One of those question marks is Luis Severino. Now, we like Sevy as a starter, but who knows what will happen in 2017. 

According to an article on the Yankees website, there are questions about if this kid, who's clearly trying to make the rotation again is putting on too much muscle... and will that muscle hurt him?  They'd like him to focus more on flexibility. The thinking is, that may be for effective for him in the long run.  

(May 7, 2016 - Source: Mike Stobe/Getty Images North America)
"There's a lot of theories," Yankees general manager Brian Cashman said. "He came in physically built stronger. He hit the weights pretty strongly. Did that affect him one way or the other? I know that through [pitching coach] Larry [Rothschild] and our strength coach, we told him this winter that he needed to stay more flexible and stay off the bulk."

After reading that, I did alittle research of my own. During that research, I found this article on pitching.com. and it's interesting.  It states:

"We now have another valid reason why so many pitchers do not reach their velocity potential. They spend too much time on flexibility training. Specifically, pitchers spend wasted time on static stretching prior to throwing that studies have now proven actually reduces velocity."


Now pitching.com is just another theory, but the reality is, it goes against what Cashman said, and you have to wonder if the Yankees are doing the right thing with Sevy, or if Sevy has his own plan.  We at BYB found that nugget fascinating.

Look... hopefully Luis can bounce back this year.  The kid turns only 23 year old next month. If you ask me, it's way too early to give up on him and toss him into the pen.   

But do you think?  Comment.




--Michael Carnesi
BYB Writer