Stephen Drew and pinch-hit grand slams

When Stephen Drew pinch-hit for Brett Gardner last night, the immediate reaction was concern about Gardner’s wrist. For a short moment, Drew made everyone forget about Gardner’s health when he launched a grand slam to give the Yankees a 6-4 lead against the Orioles. It proved to be the game winner. Who would have thought Drew would deliver?

It turns out that Drew’s grand salami put him in rare company. In major league history*, only 287 other players have accomplished the feat of a pinch-hit bases loaded homer. This is only slightly more common than a no-hitter, which has happened 232 times in regular and postseason history since 1914, the earliest date available via the Play Index. In Yankees history*, there have only been 15 pinch-hit grand slams. Continue reading

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Prospect Profile: Mason Williams

2014 Stats: 

Level: AA

563 PA   .223/.290/.304   8.3% BB%   12.1% K%   21/29 SB   +0 DEF

Mason Williams ranked #22 on Chris’ Yankees top 100 list.


Oh, how Williams has fallen. Once one of the better prospects in the game, Mason has taken a tumble in the past couple of years. Selected in the fourth round of the 2010 draft, Williams quickly burst onto prospect lists after a superb 2011 campaign with Staten Island in Short-Season A-Ball. That year, Williams posted a sky-high .349/.395/.468 triple-slash (149 wRC+) with 28 stolen bases. Baseball America ranked him the 85th best prospect in baseball afterward. In 2012, Williams impressed yet again between Single-A Charleston and High-A Tampa, earning him the 32nd spot from the same publication. Since then, it’s been downhill. Williams was completely overmatched in a second turn at High-A in 2013, and predictably struggled in a cameo at Double-A Trenton that year too. Continue reading

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Prospect Profile: Bryan Mitchell

2014 Stats:


26 G   114 IP   20.4% K%   9.7% BB%   2.2% HR%   50.8% GB%   4.18 ERA   3.93 FIP

Mitchell ranked #9 on Chris’ Yankees top 100 prospects list.


Bryan Mitchell‘s been in the Yankees system for a while. Drafted in the 16th round out of high school in 2009, he’s already exceeded expectations of most guys taken at that point of the draft. The right-handers numbers haven’t popped out in his minor league career, but his stuff has. He’s got a mid-90s fastball and a curveball that Baseball America ranked best in the organization after the 2012 season. Continue reading

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Believe it or not, Sabathia’s first start was an encouraging one

A lot of people are going to look at last night’s box score and shake their heads at CC Sabathia‘s line. Don’t be one of those people. The big left-hander was unexpectedly sharp after a rocky spring training. There’s no need to rush to judgement after one start, especially considering Sabathia’s past two years of struggle, but there was certainly a lot to like about Sabathia’s performance against the Blue Jays.

Runs are baseball’s currency, but if your familiar with DIPS, you know that there’s a lot more that goes into a pitchers performance than the amount of runs he allowed. Plenty of other factors come into play, such as the defense, ballpark, and shifts. Though CC allowed four runs in the second last night, it’s difficult to hold him culpable for everything that happened. In fact, one could argue that none of those runs should have scored. Just take a look at the play-by-play. Continue reading

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Prospect Profile: John Ryan Murphy

2014 Stats:

Level: AAA/MLB

281 PA   .258/.299/.368   6.0% BB%   22.8% K%   0/0 SB   +3 DEF

Murphy ranked #8 on Chris’ Yankees top 100 list.


John Ryan Murphy has spent part of the last two seasons in the big leagues and is the backup catcher this season, so it’s kind of weird to still think of him as a prospect. Yet, that’s what Murphy still is given the sparse playing time the soon-to-be 24 year-old has received in the majors. Since being picked in the second round of the 2009 draft, Murphy has been on the prospect radar from the second he signed. Baseball America has ranked Murphy in the Yankees’ top 15 prospects five times, three of those years within the top three. Continue reading

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Prospect Profile: Tyler Wade

2014 Stats: 

Level: A

576 PA   .272/.350/.349   9.9% BB%   20.5% K%   22/35 SB   +5 DEF

Wade ranked #21 on Chris’ Yankees top 100 list.


In 2013, the Yankees selected then high school shortstop Tyler Wade with its fourth-round pick. He jumped right into rookie ball, and had no difficulty adjusting to minor league competition. In 198 trips to the plate, he showed an impressive eye (16.2% BB%), some speed (11 SB), and a good batting average (.309 BA buoyed by a .417 BABIP). He didn’t offer much power (.062 ISO), but his performance was still good for a 146 wRC+. This earned him a four game stint with Staten Island by the end of the season. Continue reading

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Yankees’ 2015 Season Preview

In just a couple of hours, the Yankees’ 2015 campaign starts in the Bronx. Much has happened since the end of last season, so let’s recap everything that went down this offseason and then dive in to the team’s outlook for this season.

Offseason changes

IN: Andrew Miller, Didi Gregorius, Nathan Eovaldi, Garrett Jones, Justin Wilson, David Carpenter, Chasen Shreve, Chris Martin

OUT: David Robertson, Brandon McCarthy, Ichiro Suzuki, Francisco Cervelli, Martin Prado, David Phelps, Hiroki Kuroda, Shawn Kelley, Shane Greene

Starting Pitching

Masahiro Tanaka was awesome last season. He’s looked pretty great this spring, despite some diminished velocity. There’s reason to be confident in Tanaka’s ability to dominate, but the question is for how long? Hopefully, Tanaka’s rehabbed UCL survives this season and beyond, similar to what happened to Adam Wainwright‘s elbow.

Michael Pineda is downright filthy. He’s got electric stuff that’s certainly going to give batters fits all season. But like Tanaka, it’s impossible to know if he can make it through the entire season. He missed a big chunk of 2014 with a shoulder strain, and he of course didn’t pitch in 2012 and 2013 because of shoulder surgery. Continue reading

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Why you shouldn’t worry about Tanaka’s low velocity, in two charts

Over the weekend, Masahiro Tanaka announced that he was altering his pitching style, which will result in lower velocities. According to Tanaka, his change in approach is two fold: one part pitch selection, one part mechanics. Here’s what the Yankees ace had to say about it:

Because of the fact I’m throwing more two-seamers, that would obviously make the velocity go down a bit. As for my pitching style and my mechanics, I’m trying to relax a little bit more when I’m throwing, so that might have something to do with it.

Let’s start with the change in pitch selection. When Tanaka talks about his two-seam fastball, he’s referring to what PITCHf/x identifies as his sinker. Per PITCHf/x, Tanaka threw his sinker 23% of the time last year. The remainder of his arsenal primarily consisted of his four-seam fastball (25%), splitter (24%), slider (22%) and curveball (6%).

Looking at Tanaka’s starts from last year, he performed noticeably better when he threw more sinkers. On April 16th, Tanaka turned to the sinker nearly 40% of the time, and had his best start of the year according to FIP. He struck out ten batters and walked just one over eight shutout innings. Continue reading

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Prospect Profile: Jose Ramirez

2014 Stats: 

Level: AAA/MLB

17 G  22.1 IP  24.7% K%  14.8% BB%  1.9% HR%  36.5% GB%  3.22 ERA  4.65 FIP

Ramirez ranked #17 on Chris’ Yankees top 100 list.


The Yankees signed Jose Ramirez as an international amateur free agent in 2007. He began his minor league journey in the Dominican Summer League, and didn’t come stateside until 2009 for one game with High-A Tampa. His first full season in the United States was 2010 with Single-A Charleston, and it was a pretty good debut. He tossed 115 innings in 21 starts, posting a respectable 3.60 ERA with good strikeout and walk numbers. Thanks to that solid season, Baseball America ranked his changeup as the best in the Yankees’ organization. Ramirez wasn’t so fortunate the next season, getting roughed up in time split between Charleston and Tampa, but he rebounded nicely in 2012 in Tampa again, eventually earning him a promotion to Double-A Trenton. 2013 was a step back for Ramirez, much in part due to injuries which have plagued him ever since. By 2014, Ramirez was converted to a reliever full time. Continue reading

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