Friday, November 29, 2019

The best all-decade team there is: the obscure Yankees

       If you are a subscriber to The Athletic, you might have noticed a lot of "all-decade" teams and lists coming out recently. Maybe it is a little too early for them; it's Thanksgiving, not Christmas, but that has birthed a team that will destroy every single all-decade team any writer at The Athletic can make up. That is the obscure former Yankees. The 2010s wasn't exactly the most successful decade for the Bronx Bombers. They only missed the playoffs three times, and had a winning season every single year, but they did not win a World Series for just the third decade (1980s and 1910s) since the name change from the Highlanders after 1912. But along the 2010s, the Yankees picked up many stars, and many players that you probably don't remember. I compiled a 25 man roster of just former Yankees from the 2010s that didn't play too much. The original roster had 43 players, so there were a bunch of cuts, so sorry in advance to fans of Rico Noel, Antoan Richardson, Ji-Man Choi, Ike Davis, Andrew Brackman, Breyvic Valera, Jace Peterson, Eric Young Jr, Billy Butler, Jake Barrett, Connor Mullee, Ryota Igarashi and much more. Let's start with our destroying catchers.

Erik Kratz - 4 games in 2017
Kratz might be considered cheating, because he is still in the Yankees organization. But, the team needed a stable middle of the order bat that can play catcher. Kratz had played on five teams since 2010, and received a World Series ring from the Royals in 2015, when he played a whopping four games that year for them. That was Kratz' career resume on August 24, 2017. Yankee fans might not remember the date at first site, but they will know it as the day the Yankees and Tigers fought a lot, leading to Gary Sanchez and Austin Romine, the two catchers on the team, getting suspended. The only other catcher on the 40 man roster, Kyle Higashioka, was injured. So on August 31st, the Yankees acquired Kratz from the Indians for cash considerations. Thanks to some sneaky appealing and dropped appeals on the suspension, the Yankees were able to get Kratz into four games. Kratz went 2-for-2, with a double and two RBIs. He stayed with the organization in 2018, but never played in the majors, and was traded to the Brewers. He actually played in 67 games, plus some playoff games that season in Milwaukee. The played for the Giants and Rays in 2019, but after Tampa Bay released him, he returned to the Yankees on a minor league deal, but he hasn't played with the big league club yet. He is currently 40 years old.

Gustavo Molina - 3 games in 2011
Everyone knows the three Molina brothers that were catchers. Bengie, Yadier and Jose have played in a lot of games. But little did they know that they had a long lost brother Gustavo. Unlike his fake brothers that were from Puerto Rico, Gustavo hailed from Venezuela. He signed as an amateur free agent with the White Sox on the third day of 2000, and made his MLB debut for Chicago in 2007, and later was claimed off waivers by the Orioles. Combined, he played in 17 games that year. Molina appeared in two games for the Mets the next year, and didn't play in 2009 before making a triumphant return to the MLB, playing in four games in 2010 for Boston. The Yankees signed Molina in December 2010 as catcher insurance. Molina went 1-for-6 in three games with a double. The Yankees brought Molina back for 2012, but he never played in the MLB, and hasn't played since. Now 37, Molina has an impressive career WAR of -0.7, with six hits in 47 at-bats.

Travis Ishikawa - 1 game in 2013
Ishikawa was a 22nd round pick by the Giants in 2002. From 2006-2010, Ishikawa played in 281 games for the Giants, and missed 2011 before signing with the Brewers before 2012. He played in 94 games, and signed with the Orioles. He played in Baltimore for six games, then was claimed off waivers by the Yankees on July 7th. He started one game, went 0-for-2, and six days after being claimed off waivers, he was released. That was it for him in 2013. He started 2014 with the Pirates, later returned to the Giants that season and hit a semi-important home run and started 2015 with the same team, then returned to Pittsburgh. He played in 44 games in 2015, and that was the last of Ishikawa in the majors. He hasn't played baseball since 2016.

Chris Parmelee - 6 games in 2016
The Yankees had a first base crisis in 2016. Greg Bird missed the entire year with an injury, Mark Teixeira was hurt, so the team turned to former Mariners top prospect Dustin Ackley, but he soon went down, and in came Parmelee. In six games, Parmelee went 4-for-8 with a double, two home runs and four RBIs. However, in game six, he suffered a hamstring injury that was hard to watch. Parmelee, the 20th overall pick by Minnesota in 2006, hit 28 home runs in five seasons for the Twins and Orioles before joining the Yankees. He has not appeared in a major league game since his cameo with the Yankees. Parmelee is still just 31, and had a .814 OPS for AA Tulsa (Dodgers) in 2019. 

Corban Joseph - 2 games in 2013
The only second baseman on the team, Joseph is the first member to debut with the Yankees. Joseph was a 4th round pick by New York in 2008, and debuted in 2013 as a 24 year old. He went 1-for-6 with a double, a walk and a run. But Joseph's story doesn't end there. In 2018, five seasons after he played for the Yankees, Joseph played in 14 games for the Orioles, with just 18 at-bats. He is one of the few players on this team to play in the MLB in 2019. He combined for 28 games played for the A's, Giants and Pirates. With Oakland, Joseph hit his first, and at the moment only, MLB home run.

Troy Tulowitzki - 5 games in 2019
One of the two members of the 2019 team on this team, Tulowitzki is also the most famous member of the squad. The 7th overall pick in 2005 by the Rockies, "Tulo" played in 10 seasons for Colorado, and was a five time all star, with a pair of Gold Gloves and Silver Sluggers. Tulowitzki had a bad contract and was always injured when he was traded to the Blue Jays mid season in 2015. As he was traded, Tulowitzki started to fade. He missed all of 2018, and the Blue Jays then released him and ate up money. Tulo signed a league minimum deal with the Yankees, and was their Opening Day shortstop this past season. He went 2-for-11 with a home run for the Yankees, before straining his left calf. Tulowitzki later retired without again.

Cole Figueroa - 2 games in 2015
Figueroa is one of our two third basemen. He was drafted in the 9th round by the Blue Jays in 2006, did not sign, and then was drafted three rounds earlier by the Padres two years later. He never played in San Diego, instead debuting with the Rays in 2014, appearing in 23 games. Figueroa was mainly a second baseman, so he could give Joseph a breather if necessary. However, when he played in two games for the Yankees in 2015, both were at third base. Figueroa went 2-for-8 with two doubles and two runs, but never appeared in pinstripes again. He played another 23 more games in 2016 for the Pirates, then ended his MLB career, without a major league home run.

Scott Sizemore - 6 games in 2014
Sizemore might be taking up most of our third base time. The Tigers' 5th round pick in 2006, Sizemore debuted for Detroit in 2010, hitting three home runs in 48 games. He played in 17 games for the Tigers at the start of 2011, but was traded to the A's for David Purcey, and hit 11 home runs in 93 games, which is not bad. But, he did not play at all in 2012, and played in just two games for Oakland in 2013, bringing us to 2014. Sizemore signed with the team in January, and played in six April games. He went 5-for-16 with three runs scored and four RBIs, and was released on July 31st, but re-signed less than two weeks later. However, he never played in the majors again. Sizemore is currently 34.

Dustin Fowler - 1 game in 2017
Fowler also feels like cheating. He never had an at-bat for the team, and did not even play a full inning. But, he will have to lead our three man outfield. Fowler was an 18th round pick by the Yankees in 2013, and when he was called up, he was actually a top prospect in the organization. In the first inning of his major league debut, Fowler attempted to catch a foul ball from White Sox slugger Jose Abreu. The ball went into the stands, and Fowler banged into the railing, and was severely injured. He ended up with a ruptured patella tendon, ending his season. There was an odd lawsuit involved later. At the 2017 trade deadline, Fowler was traded to the A's for star starting pitcher Sonny Gray in an underwhelming deal. He played in 69 games for the A's in 2018, had a terrible .610 OPS, and spent all of 2019 in AAA, but he could still make a future impact.

Eury Perez - 4 games in 2014
I don't know much about Perez, let alone how to pronounce his name (it's EE-YOUR-EE). Perez is your classic speedster. He had four stolen bases and two hits for the Nationals (22 games) from 2012-13. He played in four games for the Yankees, stole one base and went 2-for-10. That would be it for Perez's illustrious Yankees career. He actually played in 47 games for the Braves in 2015, with five RBIs and three stolen bases. Perez has not appeared in a major league game since.

Darnell McDonald - 4 games in 2012
The last hitter on this slightly extended roster, McDonald was a first round pick by the Orioles in 1997. He debuted for them in 2004, and played in just 17 games. He would not appear in an MLB game until 2007, when he had a four game stint with the Twins. He didn't play in 2008 before spending 2009 with the Reds. He then went to the Red Sox, and over three seasons, played in 234 games with 17 home runs. 38 of those games came in 2012. On America's birthdate, the Yankees claimed McDonald off waivers from their rival. McDonald went 0-for-4 in four games. He played in 25 games for the Cubs as a 34 year old in 2013, and despite hitting .302, that was his last major league appearance.

Kyle Davies - 1 game in 2015
Davies was a weak starting pitcher with a career 5.57 ERA in 152 games (144 starts). Now, he is just mistaken for Zach Davies, a current pitcher that is not related. The two Davies' were even confused by pundit Ken Rosenthal, when he broke the news this week of Zach's trade to San Diego. Anyways, back to Kyle. Davies pitched in seven seasons for the Braves and Royals, lastly 2011. But, four seasons later, he made a surprise cameo for the Yankees. In one game, Davies pitched 2.1 scoreless innings in relief. That was the end of his MLB career. Davies will have to be one of our aces, since we have three starters (two legitimate ones). 

Wade LeBlanc - 1 game in 2014
In his career, LeBlanc has been a starter and a reliever. He was a second round pick by the Padres in 2006. He played for the Padres, Marlins, Astros and Angels before joining the Yankees in 2014. As a 29 year old, LeBlanc pitched in one inning for the Yankees, and allowed two runs. That was it for him in New York. He returned to the Angels to end 2014, missed 2015, and spent 2016 with the Pirates and Mariners. He pitched in 50 games for Pittsburgh in 2017, and actually signed with the Yankees at the start of 2018. However, he did not make the team, and instead returned to Seattle, where he had a 3.72 ERA in 162 innings, mainly as a starter. However, he had a terrible 5.71 ERA in 2019, and lost his rotation spot. The Mariners declined his option for 2020, and he is now a free agent. He will likely be a reliever for his next team.

Chris Bootcheck - 1 game in 2013
Bootcheck will be in our three man rotation, but he isn't really a starter. He pitched in 91 career games, and three were starts. Those starts came early in his career with the Angels. He later transitioned as a main reliever for Los Angeles. He allowed 18 runs in 13 games for the Pirates in 2009, and would not pitch again until 2013. That was his year in pinstripes. Bootcheck would appear in one game, allowing two hits, two walks, striking out one and allowing a run in one inning. That would be the last of his major league career. Even though he hasn't started a game since 2005, we are hoping that Bootcheck can be a serviceable third and final starter for us. 

Joe Mantiply - 1 game in 2019
Our second and final member of the 2019 Yankees, Mantiply was a rare August trade acquisition. Starting this past season, teams can only trade players after July 31st that have not been on a 40 man roster all season. That applies to Mantiply, who the Yankees sent cash to the Reds for. Mantiply had one prior season of experience. He pitched in five games for the Tigers in 2016, but logged just 2.2 innings. He is not exactly a multi-inning guy. Despite that, the Yankees left him out for three innings in one game. Mantiply allowed three runs and struck and two, and was later DFAd. He remains in the organization but I'd be surprised if he pitches again.

Ronald Herrera - 2 games in 2017
The first pitcher with multiple games as a Yankee, Herrera signed with the A's in 2011 as an amateur free agent. Herrera was traded to the Padres for Kyle Blanks, then in 2015 the Yankees got him for Jose Pirela. Herrera made his MLB debut in 2017 as a 22 year old. He allowed two runs in three innings. At the end of the season, to free a 40 man roster space to protect players for the Rule 5 draft, Herrera was traded to the Rangers for Reiver Sanmartin, who the Yankees traded to the Reds in a different Sonny Gray trade. Herrera has not appeared in a game since, but he is just 25 still, so he has a chance.

Tyler Olson - 1 game in 2016
Olson will be our shutdown lefty reliever, at least if he performs like he did in 2017. Olson debuted for the Mariners in 2015, allowing eight runs in 13.1 innings. That offseason, he was traded to the Dodgers and then to the Yankees. He appeared in a single game, allowing two runs in 2.2 innings. But he was claimed off waivers by the Royals and then by the Indians. In 2017 for the Indians, Olson pitched 20 innings in 30 games, allowing just six walks, striking out 18 and not allowing a single earned run, and faced the Yankees that postseason. However, Olson has significantly regressed since then. He is still with Cleveland.

Danny Burawa - 1 game in 2015   
Burawa is from Riverhead, about an hour and 40 minutes on a drive from Yankee Stadium. He was drafted by the Yankees in the 12th round in 2010. He debuted in 2015, but he allowed four runs in 0.2 innings. That would do it for Burawa's Yankees' career. The Braves claimed Burawa off waivers, and he pitched in 12 games, with a 3.65 ERA. However, Burawa has not pitched in a major league game since. Soon to be 31, he hasn't pitched professionally since 2016.

Matt Tracy - 1 game in 2015
Another member of the 2015 team, Tracy was drafted by the Yankees in the 24th round of the 2011 draft. Like Burawa, Tracy made his MLB debut as a 26 year old. Also like Burawa, Tracy's stay was short. He pitched in just one game, allowing three unearned runs in two innings. He has not pitched in another MLB game since. However, he does have a career ERA of 0.00. Tracy posted good numbers in AAA Buffalo (Toronto) in 2018, the last we've seen of him.

Bruce Billings - 1 game in 2014
Billings is a multi-innning reliever, so he could be used as an opener for us. He was drafted by the Rockies in the 30th round of the 2007 draft. His MLB debut was for Colorado. He pitched in one game in 2011, allowing a run in two innings. He was traded to the A's as an add-on with veteran Mark Ellis. He allowed nine runs (seven earned) in three games (five innings) for the A's. He would not pitch again until 2014, with the Yankees. Billings' one game saw him go four innings, and he allowed four runs. Kind of like the original Mantiply.

Chris Leroux - 2 games in 2014
One of the only pitchers with multiple games played as a Yankee, Leroux was drafted by the Florida Marlins as a 7th rounder in 2005. Leroux played for the Marlins in 2009 and 2010, combining for an ERA over 8. He then spent four seasons for the Pirates leading up to his age 30 season, 2014. He was with the Yankees, appearing in two games. Leroux allowed five runs in two innings over two games. That would end Leroux's MLB career. 

Mike Zagurski - 1 game in 2013
Mike Zagurski was drafted in the 2005 draft's 12th round by the Phillies. That is the same team he debuted for in 2007. Zagurski did not play in 2008 or 2009, before returning to the Phillies in 2010 and 2011. Zagurski was on the Diamondbacks for 2012, and started 2013 with the Pirates, before being released and signing with the Yankees in September. Zagurski got one out in his lone game, but allowed two runs, for a 54.00 ERA. He would later pitch for the Brewers in 2018, allowing seven runs in one inning. He has a 7.78 career ERA.

Steve Garrison - 1 game in 2011
Steve Garrison was a Brewers draft pick in 2005, in the 10th round. He was traded in 2007 to the Padres with Joe Thatcher for Scott Linebrink. He was later claimed off waivers by the Yankees. Garrison was able to appear in one game, pitching to two batters, retiring both of them. He never appeared in an MLB game again. He will be very good for our team, as his 0.000 WHIP is tied for the best of all time.

Romulo Sanchez - 2 games in 2010
Sanchez is the lone member of the 2010 team. The Yankees won the World Series the year before, so they weren't employing random players yet. Sanchez was signed as an amateur free agent by the Dodgers in 2002, but was released almost exactly two years later. He then signed with the Pirates, who he pitched with in 2007 and 2008. He allowing 16 runs in 31.1 innings. He did not play in the majors in 2009, but made a cameo with the 2010 Yankees. Sanchez pitched in two games, allowing one hit in 4.1 innings with five strikeouts and no runs allowed. That would be the end of Sanchez's illustrious career. 
Davis Aardsma - 1 game in 2012
Aardsma will act as our closer, and he is the final player on our team. A 2003 first rounder by the Giants, Aardsma debuted the next season. He would bounce around from the Giants to both Chicago teams to the Red Sox until landing with the Mariners in 2009. From 2009-2010, Aardsma was their closer, racking up 69 saves. However, he would not pitch in the majors in 2011. Aardsma pitched in one game for the Yankees in 2012. He allowed one run in one inning. He pitched for the Mets in 2013, and for the Braves in 2015. That was the last time the now 37 year old would pitch in the MLB.

That concludes our star-studded team. In a 162 game season, I'd predict a 102-60 record, and go 11-3 in the playoffs, winning an easy World Series. It will destroy any all-decade team you could make up, even if no one has heard of 10 of these guys, and 20 of them are out of baseball.

Wednesday, November 27, 2019

MLB Trade Review: Brewers, Padres make four player swap

             The San Diego Padres have acquired RHP Zach Davies and OF Trent Grisham from the Milwaukee Brewers in exchange for LHP Eric Lauer and INF Luis Urias.

             At first sight this trade could come as a surprise for many different reasons, and it is surprising that all four players included were dealt. The one veteran in this trade is Davies. Davies is only 26, and 2019 was just his 4th full season in the big leagues, so it is hard to call him a veteran. But, everyone else in the trade debuted in 2018 or 2019, and he is definitely the senior of the group. Davies had his best season in 2019. His 3.55 ERA was a career high, and while he made 31 starts, he did not qualify for the ERA title, with 159.2 innings pitched (you need 162 IP to qualify). That is averaging just over 5 innings an outing. Going through the batting order three times has been an issue for many pitchers. But for Davies, that was a strength. Opponents had just a .578 OPS against Davies their third time up. They had a much better .778 OPS on their first attempt. In high leverage situations, batters had a .619 OPS against him. But Davies' main issue was always strikeouts. He struck out just 102 batters in 2019, for a measly 5.7 K/9. His career K/9 isn't much better, at 6.4. This hurt his FIP, which was lowered down to 4.56. So, his fWAR was 1.6, worse than a pitcher like Dylan Bundy, who gave up 22 more runs in two more innings. Davies is due for a raise in arbitration and will be a free agent after 2021. If the Padres don't add any more to their starting rotation, slot in Davies as starter number two behind Chris Paddack, and potentially behind Joey Lucchesi as well.

              Unfortunately, Trent Grisham has played just 51 regular season MLB games, and he is already known for the wrong reason, his terrible error in his one postseason game, the NL Wild Card game. Filling in at the end of the season for injured MVP runner up Christian Yelich, Grisham hit six home runs with a .231 average and a .410 slugging, which is not good. But his defense is good. In those 51 games, he had a 2.1 UZR and five defensive runs saved. With Ryan Braun's defense hurting and him just turning 36, Grisham seemed to have a future in the Brewers' outfield. He could see some time platooning with Manuel Margot in San Diego's center field.

               Going to the flip side of the deal, Luis Urias was MLB Pipeline's 16th best prospect in the league entering 2019. However, he really struggled at the plate. In 71 MLB games, Urias hit four home runs with a .223 batting average and a .655 OPS. He also made nine errors at shortstop alone (41 games). However, he still had a 1.0 bWAR. But, he is still just 22 and had a .998 OPS at AAA El Paso (73 games) in 2019. That included 19 home runs. He seems to be blocked with Manny Machado and Fernando Tatis Jr. at the left side of the infield for years to come. Urias can play second, and that was where he was expected to start 2019 at, following Ian Kinsler's awful 2019. The Brewers could experiment with Urias as their shortstop. Orlando Arcia hit 15 home runs in 2019, but he had a weak .633 OPS, slightly below his career mark of .652. Arcia also had a -0.1 WAR. Third baseman Mike Moustakas is a free agent, so Urias could be used there. The team will still trust Travis Shaw, who hit more than 30 home runs in his first two years with the team, even though his .157 average, .551 OPS 2019 season was about as bad as it gets.

                  2019 was a weird year for the final member of the trade, Eric Lauer. Lauer had a 4.34 ERA in 23 starts in 2018, his rookie season, but started Opening Day 2019 for the Padres as a 23 year old. In 30 games (29 starts), Lauer had a 4.45 ERA, and struck out 138 batters in 149.2 innings, for an 8.3 K/9, much better than Davies. Lauer, a 1st round pick back in 2016, is not well regarded and is seen as the 4th most important player of the trade. He will likely take Davies' rotation spot for the Brewers. The Brewers' 2020 rotation is all over the place, and could see multiple additions. Downgrading Davies to Lauer could mean that the Brewers have another move up their sleeve.

Tuesday, November 5, 2019

MLB Trade Review: Blue Jays acquire Anderson

         The Toronto Blue Jays have acquired RHP Chase Anderson from the Milwaukee Brewers in exchange for 1B Chad Spanberger.

         The Blue Jays' 2020 rotation is by no means set. After trading Marcus Stroman and Aaron Sanchez at the trade deadline, Anderson could be the main veteran in the rotation. Matt Shoemaker will return after allowing five runs in 28.2 innings in his first five starts in April, then tearing his ACL. Trent Thornton seems like a lock, and Anthony Kay, acquired for Stroman, has a good chance. Thomas Pannone and Jacob Waguespack are also battling for a spot, and another player will likely be acquired. With Kay, Thornton and Waguespack debuting in 2019, you could see why the Jays needed a veteran presence in their rotation. Anderson has been an up-and-down pitcher in his career. He had a strong 2017 and a decent 2019, but lead the league in homers allowed in 2018, despite a 3.93 ERA. A great comparable for Jays fans is Marco Estrada. The Blue Jays acquired Estrada, a homer prone pitcher, from the Brewers, in 2014. He was great in 2015 and 2016, before falling off the next two years.

          Anderson, soon to be 32, had a 4.21 ERA with a 4.83 FIP and 124 strikeouts in 139 innings for the Brewers in 2019. In his MLB career for the Brewers and Arizona Diamondbacks, Anderson has a 3.94 ERA with a 4.54 FIP and 721 strikeouts in 857 innings.

         Anderson was becoming an odd man out in the Brewers' rotation. The team likely would have declined Anderson's $8.5 million option that was due yesterday (this post is a day late). Instead, they are able to get some value in Spanberger, and not eat up any money. A 24 year old, Spanberger made it to AA for the first time in 2019. He was acquired midway through 2018 as part of a package for Seunghwan Oh.

        Spanberger, 24, had a .237 average with 13 home runs, 59 RBIs and four stolen bases in 480 Plate Appearances for AA New Hampshire. In his minor league career, Spanberger has a .274 average with 59 home runs, 200 RBIs and 23 stolen bases in 1259 Plate Appearances.