Category Archives: Greg Bird

YANKEES – SIT TIGHT AND WAIT IT OUT

If there is one thing the 2015 season demonstrated, it’s that younger (read athletically) constructed teams were the ones who played well into October. In essence, speed kills. Whether you’re talkingimages-1 about a fast ball consistently in the 95-97 mph range (Mets starters) or quick thinking and athleticism on the base paths, or swift and reliable ball tracking in the outfield (Royals on both counts)  – all winning teams (add the Cubs, Astros, and Pirates too) have speed as a common thread between them. Continue reading

GIRARDI’S EPITAPH MISSES THE MARK

New York Yankees manager Joe Girard’s press conference yesterday included a look forward to 2016 as well as a glance backward at ” what happened”. Most telling were his largely defensive comments explaining how he tried to give his aging lineup enough rest so they could limp to the finish line. Left unsaid, probably because he’s a true professional, is the question he must have been asking himself all season……..”Why do I even have to deal with this?”

The New York Yankees are old. Even Brett Gardner (left) who is considered “young” by team standards will be 33 next August. Along with Jacob Ellsbury, (below) he appeared to lose his legs down the stretch and both weighed heavily in the Yankee’s decline and inability to catch the Blue Jays. More telling, Ellsbury was sat by Girardi against Houston in favor of Chris Young. He may regret that decision now but it is indicative of the decisions Girardi had to cope with all year.

Even more baffling was Girardi’s insistence that the Yankees are good to go for next year. Again, he is not the type to put any of his players in harm’s way. But he could have deferred the question to Brian Cashman who will be weighing in soon and it is likely that he will have a entirely different take on next year’s roster. More importantly, ownership is likely to take notice of the continuing decline of TV ratings on YES. Even fans like myself found my way to SNY and the youthful and energetic Mets more often than not.  We’ve seen this cast before and watching Alex Rodriguez go 1-4 with three strikeouts and a home run is getting downright boring. And I sense that a good portion of the fan base agrees.

Some tough decisions need to be made quickly. CC Sabathia is one of them. As difficult as it would be (in light of his personal problems now), he needs to be cut loose and his salary eaten. Same with Teixeria who is a injury waiting to happen all year, every year. The kids the Yankees have need to be in the forefront of the lineup and in full view of the fans and media. Greg Bird, Luis Severino, Michael (above) Pineda (if he can stay healthy and grow up – pine tar?) and Rob Refsnyder are budding stars. Don’t let them wait for a spot to clear in the lineup when a aging “regular” goes down with injury. And for God sakes, do not sign David Price or any other veteran over the age of 26. 

In truth, the Yankees are no longer fun to watch. That needs to change………and while I’m thinking about it…….maybe a change at the helm needs to be made too.images-8 $$$ is always the big factor though and a year of Girardi’s contract would need to be eaten. We know what George would have done regardless of the cost. His son Hal moves to center stage now………it’s been six long years since the Yankees posted a Championship in 2009. The Boss would never have stood for that…..no way….no how.

 

A NEW DIRECTION IN NEW YORK TAKES HOLD

Major League ballclubs have always invested heavily in their farm systems as a means of developing new talent. Not so  much for the Mets and Yankees though. With big money to spend, they have traditionally used their their “bonus babies” as a lure to trade for or sign marquee players in the free agent market. This strategy has often saddled them with long term contracts that leaves talent in the minors with nowhere to go because positions on the roster – let alone starting lineups – are not available. Case in point…….consider this….the New York Mets are still paying Bobby Bonilla (the poster child of bad signings in New York) 1.2 million dollars a year…..and they will continue to do so for several years more…….until 2035! When was the last time he had an at bat for the Mets? ( I looked it up…..14 years ago) .

In The early stages of July, New York media were screaming for both teams to “do something” before the trade deadline. The Yankees just had to have David Price or Cole Hamels…..or what the hell…..images-25.images-29why not both. The Mets needed a couple of run producers in their sluggish lineup. Like old times, it was time to sell the farm. Instead, they did virtually nothing in the trade markets (although Cespedes was a nice grab by the Mets) while promoting promising rookies like Greg Bird (left) and Michael Conforto (right) who are making significant contributions to both teams.

For the Yankees, this is a relatively new strategy in team building since they hit the jackpot with the Core Four who leveraged The Run in the late Nineties.images-34 images-42In addition to Bird who is already proving to be a run producing machine, others like Luis Severino (left) and Rob Resnyder (right), and Gary Sanchez (a catcher rounding his skills at AAA) have scouts and Yankees coaches salivating. In the case of Severino, he too has already made the step up and is fast becoming a vital part of the starting rotation while Refsnyder only needs to improve his defensive skills at second base.

For the Mets, they have been in a rebuilding mode for some time now. Their strategy of stockpiling starting pitchers is now paying off. images-38 images-33So much so that the biggest problem they face right now is who gets dropped from the rotation and goes to the bullpen for the playoffs. Jacob DeGrom (left) is proving that he is the real thing following his Rookie Of The Year season last year while Steven Matz (right) has looked brilliant and unflappable in his starts to date.

New York teams are not the only ones adopting this approach to team building. In fact, it can be said that they are relatively late coming to the dance. Both the Royals and Cardinals model this strategy and look where they sit today. For this writer though, it’s refreshing and energizing to see my New York teams make the leap while teams like the Blue Jays (David Price) and Texas (Cole Hamels) continue down the road we used to travel. As the Yankees have proven in the past, both strategies can and do work. It’s just more fun to watch these kids play a boys game with a future ahead of them – instead of behind them.