Wednesday, November 25, 2015


It’s yet another story of an athlete who has disappointed his team and his fans by failing in a very public way. This time, it is Johnny Manziel. Literally days after being named the starting quarterback of the Cleveland Browns, and getting some reinforcement on the importance of personal conduct and his responsibilities to his team, a video surfaced of him partying and doing exactly what he was warned not to do.

By now you might be checking the URL above because you could have sworn you went to the Bleeding Yankee Blue site for the latest and greatest news about the Yankees. Relax. You’re in the right place. So why are we talking about Johnny Football’s antics? Because the contrast is striking between this story and a recent one about substance abuse within our own team. Of course, I’m talking about CC Sabathia’s recent stint in rehab to address his issues with alcohol.  CC got a lot of support from the Yankees, his teammates, and the majority of his fans. It was the right thing to do. You have to admire how transparent he was and how proactive he was in dealing with that kind of issue. Yes, it was the day before the playoffs, which seemed to upset some fans. But some issues are bigger than a game or a series, and you have to address them accordingly.

Manziel’s issues are certainly bigger than his game. You have to feel for the Cleveland Browns. They want to win just like any other team. They have a first round pick, they need a QB, and they take a kid who they believe will have an impact. It didn’t take long to see they had a problem on their hands. By the time they reached training camp, they had already spoken to him about his behavior and are openly expressing concern. Then he gives the finger in a televised preseason game. By then, Head Coach Mike Pettine realizes that this kid is not ready for prime time.

I would run out of room listing out all the incidents, comments, and controversies that have surrounded Manziel. His coaches met and yesterday decided to demote him to 3rd string quarterback. You have to admire their courage to demand better from their players. Let’s face it – the only reason he’s 3rd string is because they don’t have a 4th quarterback. They sent him straight to the bottom of the depth chart, which should be a clear message to him and anyone who is watching.

I get that he’s 22 years old, and maybe when he’s older he’ll have a chance to redeem himself. Right now, Johnny Football is living for Johnny Football. Personally, I am glad that accountability still exists in some places. Call me a dinosaur, but I believe you should work to be the best person you can be and that whatever you do, you should do it with honor and discipline. If you make mistakes, you don’t just pay it lip service. You don’t say things like “I have to take it a lot more seriously than maybe I did at first. This is my life and my job, and I'm 100 percent committed to that" and then fail to show up for a team practice 4 days later because you were out drinking the night before. You own up, take responsibility, and you do what you have to do to make things right for yourself, for your family, and in the case of professional athletes, for your team. You know. Like CC did.

--Ike Dimitriadis, BYB Senior Staff Writer
Twitter: @KingAgamemnon

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I love legend Rod Carew. I've loved him since I was a kid. I loved him approach. In fact, I love the way he played and respected the game.

I was touched to hear that newly acquired Aaron Hicks got a great piece of advice from Carew when he was with the Twins. He basically told Hicks not to give up switch hitting. That it was "a blessing".

Because of that, Hicks stuck with it.  Read JUST ANOTHER REASON TO LOVE ROD CAREW...
for more on that.  I wrote that November 13th, never knowing what I just found out about the great Rod Carew, he's looking for a heart transplant.  Not gonna lie, reading that broke my heart.

According to several sources, but we'll go with the original source on this, Sports Illustrated:

"It was 11 days before his 70th birthday. Stepping off that tee box, Carew suddenly felt his chest burn and his hands go clammy. Retreating to the clubhouse, he lay on the floor and asked a woman there to call a paramedic. 'The next thing I saw was a man with paddles in his hands,' Carew says. 'He was yelling, ‘We’re losing him! We can’t lose him!’ Then I blacked out.'

When he woke in the emergency room at Riverside Community Hospital—to more paddles and more shouts of 'Don’t lose him!'—Carew closed his eyes again. 'I decided to go to sleep,' he says softly. 'And I didn’t know if I’d wake up.'

He had suffered a massive heart attack—'the kind they call the widow-maker,' says his wife, Rhonda. And though doctors told Carew he was extraordinarily lucky to be alive—his heart had stopped beating on two separate occasions—he doesn’t always feel fortune-kissed. 'My wife will tell you I get up in the morning and cry and wonder, Why me?' Carew says, convalescing in a friend’s house in the suburbs of San Diego after seven weeks in five hospitals. 'But you can’t say that. I go back to when my youngest daughter was dying. I never asked my friend upstairs, Why me? And He’s the only one who has the answers.'

Carew is sitting in an easy chair. Minx, a black Bombay cat, is perched above his right shoulder. Both exude a quiet grace—they look equally feline in repose—and there’s a brief silence in the house as Carew considers that a kind of mechanical heart has been implanted in his chest, alongside his damaged one. After a moment, the most elegant hitter of his generation puts his face in his hands and sobs.

'I was dead,' he says, 'and they brought me back to life.'”

Gotta feel for Rod Carew and his family right now.  Hey, we're a Yankee site, but we're more than that here at Bleeding Yankee Blue. We believe in kindness and family and support and all of that.  Rod Carew, one of my childhood heroes needs support right now.  Say a prayer today in your busy day. It takes a second.

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Tuesday, November 24, 2015


Quick note... clearly there's no Yankee news going on.

According to

"Yankees have re-signed catcher Kyle Higashioka and lost three players - RHP Joel De La Cruz, catcher Francisco Arcia, and outfielder Ericson Leonora - in minor-league free agency, according to Baseball America's minor-league free agent tracker...

(Photo Credit: BeGreen90, Flickr)
Higashioka, 25, was the Yankees' seventh-round pick in 2008, but has seen injuries plague him throughout his career. He spent most of 2015 at Class-A Advanced Tampa, hitting .254 with five home runs and 36 RBI in 88 games, and also hit .176 in a five-game September stint at Triple-A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre."

Life can go on. Thank goodness.

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I recently wrote an article titled THE GRASS ISN'T ALWAYS GREENER regarding the Yankees’ - as well as some of their fans - habit of looking at what other teams have as being better.  My argument was that we have some in-house proven talent that can fit the holes we are looking to shore up if just given the chance.

Greg Bird, Luis Severino, Rob Refsnyder, and Slade Heathcott were examples of that last season.  To some extent, so was the recently departed (traded) John Ryan Murphy.  All came up through our organization and all were successful not only in the spring, but when given their opportunities in the Bronx; either via injury or just plain necessity.

It could be argued that only Severino was a planned introduction to the big leagues.

Those who do read my articles know my opinion of GM Brian Cashman’s idea on how to build a winning team.  He employs a strategy similar to that of the 1980’s George Steinbrenner; acquire once-proven veterans either via free agency or through trade – using the minor league system stars as bartering chips.
(In Photo: Jack Clark)
As I watch Cashman every off-season exercise a worn business model that yields 85 – 87 wins per season and only teases us with memories of players never to again see their peak, I can’t help but remember names like Jack Clark (signed in 1988 at age 32, hit .242 and was traded to Padres at end of season), Rick Rhoden (acquired in trade from Pittsburgh in 1987 at age 35 – for 24 year old Doug Drabek who would go on to win a Cy Young in 1990.

(In Photo: Doug Drabek)
Rhoden would go 28 – 22 with a 4.09 ERA and allow 42 HR in 2 seasons with Yankees), or Rafael Santana (30 year old shortstop acquired in trade from Mets, hit .240 in 1988 and then released the next season).  While only a small representative sample, they characterized Yankee clubs that averaged a little more than 82 wins per season and never finished above 4th place in the A.L. East.

(In Photo: Derek Jeter, 1996)
It wasn’t until young, home-grown players like Don Mattingly and Bernie Williams came onto the scene – to be followed by Derek Jeter, Mariano Rivera, Jorge Posada and Andy Pettitte – that the Bombers emerged from that “dark period” of their history.

Cashman’s line of thinking has only worked once over the past 15 seasons – in 2009 – and the club has played just one playoff game (last season’s loss to the Astros in the Wild card game) over the past three.  At what point does the recent success of the Royals and Giants - teams laden with young, home-grown stars given their chance on an everyday basis – finally sink in?

Lately, there have persistent rumblings about opportunities to fill second base (yet again) with either a position-transplant from another team (Castro of the Cubs – bumped from his starting spot at shortstop by Addison Russell, or a 30-something veteran (Kinsler from the Tigers).  These rumors persist seemingly oblivious to what the Yankees had in the Ackley / Refsnyder combo over the final crucial weeks of 2015.

 As I wrote in my first THE GRASS ISN'T ALWAYS GREENER article:

“Only, what they seem to overlook is that once Drew was out of the picture, the team’s forced reliance upon Dustin Ackley and Rob Refsnyder created a productive combo at second.  From September 16th (when Drew stopped playing on regular basis) until the end of the season, the two “replacements” for WHSBIYH (Worst Hitting Second Baseman In Yankees History) hit a combined .303 with 4 HR, 11 RBI and 6 runs scored.”

The Yankees went from ranking dead last at second base to top 5 at the position simply by going with what they had on hand to replace Drew.

My point of all of this is that, sure Kinsler might be an upgrade at second base, but not a significant one and he is an older player with a much larger contract to eat.  Castro is young, but he isn’t a natural second baseman (Refsnyder, long criticized regarding his fielding, actually had a higher fielding percentage at the position and had no errors down the stretch when the Yankees needed him the most), and he has a large contract to boot (8 year contract through 2019, $60 million).  We have more pressing issues at other positions (starting pitching in particular) than to worry about second base (now that the stiff Drew is gone).

My esteemed colleague, and BYB Founder, Robert Casey wrote articles about both Castro and Kinsler that are well worth their read (you can get them Here and Here).  Along with what I’ve said above, he makes the point that – in the words of Lloyd Dobler from the iconic movie “Say Anything” - “You…Must…Chill! “.  Look at what we already have and relax.

Stephen Drew can’t burn us anymore (unless “Dimwit” brings him back again, which I am certain he doesn’t want to bring that upon himself for another season) and we have capable hands already under contract to adequately represent the position. Let’s let Ackley and Refsnyder grow at second base.  They’ve given us a pretty nice glimpse into what they are capable of providing.  After all, the grass isn’t always greener on the other side – or in this case – with the other options.


--Steve Skinner, BYB Senior Writer
Twitter: @oswegos1


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Monday, November 23, 2015


I will admit that I loved the Chase Headley deal the day it was made. I felt even more gratified by his performance in his first game in pinstripes – arrives at the Stadium in the middle of the game, enters the game in the bottom of the 8th, a walk-off base hit in the bottom of the 14th. That’s my kind of player – steps up to the circumstances and delivers under pressure. Still, there’s no denying that 2015 was not his best year.

It was pretty shocking to me, actually. Not so much the hitting, as he was only slightly lower than his averages in every major hitting category over the last three years. It was his glove that got my notice. Remember that he won the Gold Glove for 3B in 2012. Granted, that was his career year, but you don’t usually see a drop like last year on defensive stats for any player with a solid glove. Consider that for the prior 3 years, his fielding percentage at 3rd base only fluctuated 8 basis points (.968 to .976), and that includes his Gold Glove year. Last year he dropped almost 30 basis points from the year before. He led the Yankees in fielding errors, more than second and third place (Didi Gregorius and Stephen Drew) combined. In fact, it was the first time in his career since becoming an everyday third baseman that he posted a negative dWAR (-0.4). As conventional wisdom goes, if your player is costing you games compared to the average replacement, it’s time to look at replacements.

Is it time to look at replacements? I am not so sure that it is. Every player has a bad year at some point in his career. Scott Brosius had a negative WAR in 1997 and Oakland traded him to the Yankees. The next year, he wins the World Series MVP. Andy Pettitte had a dreadful 1999 season, so much so that the rumor was he was going to be traded. At the trade deadline, he had a 7-8 record with a 5.65 ERA. The Yankees held onto him, he pitched the second half to a 7-3 record with a 3.46 ERA, he helped win a World Series that year and two more after that, and now he has a plaque in Monument Park. The point is if you’re going to be smart about it, you have to look at the whole body of work.

What I like about his body of work is the consistency of his defense, at least up to last year. He is consistently 10-15 basis points above the league average in fielding percentage. Hi clutch hitting stats are phenomenal. His Yankees debut was not the only time he came through in the hour of need. His batting average with RISP was almost 30 points higher than his season average last year. His OPS was almost 150 points higher. He has developed trouble against right-handed pitchers recently, but that’s something a hitting coach should be able to address.

You don’t just send clutch hitters packing, especially not when they can play good defense at third. I don’t know for sure, but his history says that he’s a much better player than we saw last year. Some might say it is time for a replacement, I say we need to stick with this guy and see what 2016 looks like.

--Ike Dimitriadis, BYB Senior Staff Writer
Twitter: @KingAgamemnon

Be Read. Get Known.

You've made BYB the fastest growing Yankees fan site in history. Now shop at the Bleeding Yankee Blue store!  Follow me on Twitter @BleednYankeeBlu and LIKE Bleeding Yankee Blue on Facebook!  Also, don't forget to check out the BYB Hub!