Earlier in the week it was announced that the Mets Triple-A hitting coach George Greer had been hired by the St. Louis Cardinals. Greer was named the Cardinals system wide hitting coach. It is well-known that the Mets are in search of a new hitting coach, thus making the timing of this move a bit odd to me.
The Cardinals have been one of the premier franchises in the sport for some time now. They compete for a World Series title year in, year out, leaving many wondering just how do they do it? Very rarely do you see the Cardinals give out long-term deals to overpriced free agents. They let arguable the games best player at the time, Albert Pujols, walk and they didn’t even skip a beat. I credit much of this to their player development and scouting department. An area which the Mets undoubtedly need to improve on.
This is what left me thinking, What exactly are the Cardinals seeing in Greer that the Mets aren’t? If an organization of the Cardinals stature felt he was worth such a position, why wouldn’t the Mets do their best to hold onto him? Greer was rumored to be a potential candidate for the Mets hitting coach, I’ll go ahead and assume he felt he was not going to be offered the position. Aside from that, interim hitting coach Lamar Johnson was told the Mets would not be retaining him as the teams hitting coach, choosing to rather reassign him elsewhere within the organization. These two factors must have played a big part in Greer making the decision to leave so quickly. But at the very least, why wasn’t he offered a similar position within the organization?
I’ll be the first to say that I think the value of a hitting coach is overstated. These are major league baseball players, they already know how to hit and require very little coaching at this level of play. With that being said, even the best of players can develop bad habits and go into a slump. This is where the advice from a hitting coach may come into play. Besides the occasional tweak or words of encouragement to a younger player, I don’t think a hitting coach has the ability to turn around an entire offense simply by his presence.
At the end of the day, this is just a minor league hitting instructor. But this move left me once again questioning the thought process within our front office. Look around the league, unless you are willing to open up your checkbook like the Yankees, Dodgers and Red Sox, you must rely heavily on your farm system to build from within. Maybe I’m overstating this and Greer is an easily replaceable coach, but I have to doubt that if an organization of the Cardinals caliber was willing to scoop him away.
Despite all of the injury problems the Yankees have faced this season, they have continued to keep themselves in the playoff hunt. While general manager Brian Cashman made some nice additions around the trading deadline, he was unable to land that “game changer” type of player.
Although there wasn’t a big name brought in, the Yankees could soon be receiving a jolt from within their own roster. Mashiro Tanaka and Michael Pineda, the early season 1-2 punch in the rotation, each received good news this week regarding their rehab. Pineda, completed his first assignment and is scheduled to throw two more before a possible big league return. While Tanaka, threw a baseball for the first time in a month yesterday to positive results. Although his return would be roughly a month away, he could very well prove to be the difference maker they need down the stretch.
Cashman, did a fine job adding the pieces he did with such limited resources. Chase Headley and Brandon McCarthy have quickly made an impact, while Martin Prado and Stephen Drew added some much-needed versatility to the roster. But the moves he didn’t make could turn into his finest of them all. The Yankees farm system is already well depleted. Trading for a rental player would have only sent their system back even further than it already is. Waiting on the rehabbing Tanaka and Pineda could prove to be the best decision he makes this year.
If the Yankees are able to stay in contention until the cavalry arrives, high praise will not only be in order for the job Cashman has done, but Joe Girardi as well. Girardi has once again proven himself to be a top-tier manager in the game today. He continues to get production out of his rosters, no matter who is on the disabled list.
Look for the Yankees to make things interesting down the stretch, especially if Tanaka and Pineda return to their earlier form.
In unsurprising news, Jacob deGrom was named the NL Rookie of the month. It was hard to imagine deGrom NOT winning this award after going 4-1 with a 1.39 ERA in July.
Much has been made of the New York Mets pitching depth, and rightly so, but deGrom was a bit of an afterthought heading into the season. Although he was spoken of highly by the front office inner circle, Noah Syndergaard and Rafael Montero were supposed to be the rookies making an impact this year. While those two struggled early on, deGrom rose to the occasion and quickly made his presence known in the majors.
Degrom, is now 6-5 on the year with a 2.77 ERA. Those numbers are great for anyone, let alone a rookie. It isn’t just his raw stats that have impressed, but also his demeanor and mentality on the mound. DeGrom has that “it” factor, one that can’t be fully explained. He attacks a lineup in a fearless manor, challenging hitters at all times. Which is what has drawn the comparisons between Matt Harvey and himself. There repertoires may not be the same, but their desire to compete and win are similar, which has quickly won over this fan base.
When asked about the Rookie of the Year rumblings, deGrom struggled to even name the others in contention.
“I don’t know who they all are,” deGrom said. “I know Hamilton. Who else? I honestly really haven’t been paying attention to it.”
At this point, deGrom may have named the only competition he has. If deGrom isn’t widely known around the league by now, he will be soon.
Despite a depleted starting rotation, and their aging position players dealing with nagging injuries, the Yankees have kept themselves well within reach of playoff baseball. Without any true powerhouse in the AL East, every team has been able to stay in the mix.
Brian Cashman has already been a busy man, making an array of mid-level moves to patch holes on his roster. Chase Headley, was brought in to fill a need at third base, while Brandon McCarthy and Chris Capuano, are attempting to solidify the rotation. So far-so good, as all three of these players have already made a positive impact. These are the kind of low-risk, high-reward maneuvers that Cashman has been making the last few seasons (Ichiro in 2012 & Alfonso Soriano 2013). Since there additions, each has provided an initial spark into the Yankees, helping them winning 7 of their first 8 games after the all-star break. But, they have lost three straight games since. While these are nice pieces that can undoubtedly help the Yankees down the stretch, they probably aren’t enough to get the job done.
After all, these are the Yankees we’re talking about. With the money Cashman spent this offseason, forget about any of that luxury tax nonsense many convinced us the Yankees were striving to stay below. There is no shortage of star power available at this years trade deadline, it’s more a matter of are you willing to take on one of these contracts? Names such as Cliff Lee, Cole Hamels, Ryan Howard, Matt Kemp, Marlon Byrd, Bartolo Colon, Chase Utley, Josh Willingham, Carlos Gonzalez and Troy Tulowitzki have all been tied to the Yankees in trade rumors. Many possess large multi-year deals, the type that their respective teams would love to unload, but only few teams would be capable of adding these numbers onto their books. Luckily, the Yankees are one of them.
As I mentioned earlier, no one is running away with the division this year. Baltimore sits atop right now with a 2.5 game lead over Toronto, with the Yankees in third place trailing by 4.5 games. Tampa, who many thought played themselves out of the discussion with their horrendous start, is now the hottest team in baseball. After winning 29 of their last 40 games, the Rays are behind the Yankees by only 2.5 games. Division aside, the Yankees are tied with Seattle in the wild card standings, trailing the Blue Jays and Angels by two games for one of two spots available.
Brian Cashman needs to pull the trigger on one of these impact players, preferably a top of the rotation starter. With C.C. Sabathia finished for the year and Tanaka’s future in question, Joe Girardi desperately needs an anchor in his staff to count on down the stretch. A vintage Yankees “big splash” is exactly what this team needs to become a real contender. Simply put, with two months of the season left to play, October baseball is well within grasp.
Joe Torre, who was famously dubbed “Clueless Joe” by the New York Daily News, was enshrined into the baseball Hall of Fame yesterday. Turns out Torre DID know what he was getting himself into, and may have managed the last great dynasty we will see in baseball.
Many forget just how good of a player Torre was before his managerial career ever began. He was a 9-time all-star, who won the batting title and NL MVP award in 1971, while playing for the St. Louis Cardinals. Despite having a great 18-year career, it was as a manager that he really left his mark on the game.
Torre first got his chance to manage in 1977, as he served as a player/coach for the New York Mets in the final year of his career. Torre went on to coach the Mets for the better part of 5 seasons, where he received poor results, due mostly to the lack-luster roster he was given to work with. From there, he went on to coach the Atlanta Braves for three years and the St. Louis Cardinals for six years. There his teams improved, but was still unable to turn any of them into a real contender.
Cue 1996. The Yankees were coming off back-to-back strong seasons, and had a young core in place to build around. George Steinbrenner made a highly questionable move when he hired Torre in to take over at the helm, considering he had winning seasons in only 5 of his 15 years as a manager. Nonetheless, it quickly became apparent that he was indeed the right man for the job. In his 12 seasons with the Yankees, his teams won 10 division titles, 6 pennants and 4 World Series championships. All the while putting up with the daily scrutiny from the NY media and most importantly, Steinbrenner himself. Torres’ tenure with the Yankees will long be remembered as one of the greatest stretches in baseball history.
After moving on to manage the L.A. Dodgers to put an end to his stellar career, Torre finished with 2,326 games won as a manager, good for 5th all-time. Congratulations and welcome to Cooperstown, Joe Torre.
Watch his Hall of Fame speech in its entirety below:
Remember heading into the All-Star break when the Mets seemed poised to take back this town? Yeah, about that. Amazingly, in just the first weekend back, the Yankees and Mets momentum has reversed.
We had the young Mets riding high, winning 8 of 10 to finish off the first half. Newspaper and TV outlets had announced it was time for the Mets to end the Yankees long running reign as kings of New York. Things looked even brighter when the Mets were set to face the lowly Padres to start off the half. After a promising win on Friday night, the Mets offense went silent as they dropped the next two games. It wasn’t just that they lost, it was how they lost. Although the pitching remained strong, the return of an anemic offense reminded us of this teams achilles heal. Daniel Murphy will need to get out of this recent slump, while the revival of Lucas Duda, Curtis Granderson and Travis d’Arnaud must continue for the Mets to turn things around.
The Yankees closed out the first half getting bad news, after bad news. Their aging roster continued to get banged up and one after another went down in the starting rotation. C.C. Sabathia had knee surgery to finish his year, Michael Pineda’s return remains in doubt and no one really knows what the future holds for Mashiro Tanaka. With nothing but negativity surrounding the Yankees heading into the break, starting the second half with a sweep of the Reds was exactly what this franchise needed. Despite the lack of depth in the starting rotation, unlikely candidates have stepped up. Hiroki Kuroda is now the “ace” of this staff by default, and he pitched quite well out if the gate. David Phelps had a solid performance and newly acquired Brandon McCarthy showed signs of returning to his old form. Jacoby Ellsbury carried the offense over the weekend and he may need to do so the rest of the way if the Yankees are going to make any sort of a run. So far, so good for the Yankees.
I realize we are only ONE series into the second half, but it’s amazes me just how quickly the mood surrounding each franchise can change. I still believe the Mets have a brighter future ahead of them, but I’m not ready to commit to their reign starting in the second half. Many questions still remain surrounding the Yankees, as I don’t have confidence that they will be able to stay healthy enough to reach the post season. But the AL East lacks a dominant team and the division is there for the taking. A big splash from Brian Cashman at the trade deadline wouldn’t surprise me, as that is what it will take to keep this team afloat. One thing I do know for certain, it’s good to have baseball back in full force.
Much like highly anticipated Super Bowl ads are leaked days in advance now, Nike released their Derek Jeter tribute commercial a day before it’s due to air. The video has quickly gone viral, taking over our social media news feeds, and rightly so.
A star-studded list of celebrities and athletes make cameo’s as they tip their caps, a gesture of respect in baseball circles, to the longtime Yankee captain before he steps in for an at-bat. Spike Lee, Billy Crystal, Joe Torre, Carmelo Anthony, Tiger Woods and Michael Jordan are just some of those featured.
Jeter, will start in his 14th, and final, All-Star game tonight. Much like former teammate Mariano Rivera last year, this will undoubtedly become the Jeter show. Dugouts will clear, fans will rise to their feet and broadcasters will go numb as baseball fans across the country show their gratitude for everything he has given to the game. It isn’t just his Hall of Fame credentials, but Jeters’ character that has him among the most respected players of his generation.
Watch the very well done ad below: