Curtis Granderson

Traded: Yankees Go From DJ to DIDI

didi

The last time the New York Yankees, Detroit Tigers, and Arizona Diamondbacks pulled off a three-team trade (2009) the players involved included Max Scherzer, Curtis Granderson, Austin Jackson, Phil Coke, Daniel Schlereth, Ian Kennedy, and Edwin Jackson. The names weren’t as sexy this time around when the three teams agreed to a deal earlier Friday.

The Yankees, looking for a shortstop to replace their future Hall-of-Fame inductee, Derek Jeter, picked up the underwhelming Didi Gregorious from the Diamondbacks. The Tigers received gritty starter Shane Greene from the Yankees and the Diamonbacks got pitcher Robbie Ray and infielder Domingo Leyba.

This one is a head scratcher for fans of both the Yankees and the Tigers. The Diamondbacks clearly did not believe that Greene was worth taking straight up  for Gregorious. The Tigers felt Greene was worth sending two players to the Diamondbacks. And the Yankees already have a good glove, can’t hit shortstop in Brendan Ryan. (UPDATE – Cashman was on WFAN and said that Gregorius, who struggles against left-handers, will platoon with Ryan.)

Replacing Jeter is an unenviable task for anyone, but should Yankees GM Brian Cashman get someone who is better suited to play every day (or platoon)? Gregorius was signed as teenager by the Cincinnati Reds in 2007. Nearly a year ago today, he was part of another three team deal, one that involved the Cleveland Indians and the Diamondbacks.

Arizona sent pitchers Trevor Bauer, Bryan Shaw, and Matt Albers to Cleveland, who also received utility man Drew Stubbs from Cincy. The Reds also sent Gregorious to the desert with Cleveland sending 1B/OF Lars Anderson and reliever Tony Sipp to the same destination. The Indians sent of outfielder Shin-Soo Choo and infielder Jason Donald to the Reds.

Gregorious got an eight-game call up for the Reds in 2012, but played 103 games in his rookie season the following year with the Diamondbacks. His numbers were decent for a light hitting newbie – a .252/.332/.373 slash line – however, his sophomore year went in the wrong direction. The 24-year old put up a .226/.290/.363 line in 80 games.

Prior to the 2013 season, Baseball America had Gregorious as their 80th best prospect out of their top 100 and MLB.com had him rated at number 63. The ranking were based on the 2012 minor league season that Gregorious split between Double-A (81 games) and Triple-A (48 games). The native of the Netherlands had a combined .717 OPS with 7 HR and 54 RBI in 129 games. He slugged .393 by adding 21 doubles and 11 triples.

The shortstop, who has also played some second base, has worked hard on his defense. He committed 32 errors in the minors in 2010, but had 13 for the Diamonbacks in 2013, and six last year. The Yankees are taking a low risk here in what they gave up, but are taking a big gamble on Gregorius showing an improved bat for a team desparately in need of run production. For now, Gregorius seems like the next Bubba Crosby.

Greene was a pleasant surprise as 25-year old rookie that was forced into the rotation due to injuries to CC Sabathia, Masahiro Tanaka, Ivan Nova, and Michael Pineda. The Yankees had selected Greene in the 9th round of the 2009 MLB Amateur draft out of Daytona Beach (FL) Community College.

Greene won four of his first five decisions, tossing 7.1 shutout innings against the Baltimore Orioles, and eight scoreless frames against the Tigers. He beat the Tigers a second time three weeks later after he allowed two earned runs in seven innings. Perhaps his shaky five starts in September convinced the Yankees to deal Greene while there was still a market for him. Apparently those two wins over Detroit convinced the Tigers he was worth it.

Greene finished the season 5-4, 3.78 with 9.3 Ks per nine innings and eight home runs allowed in 78.2 innings pitched.  With the uncertainty of the health of the starting rotation, Yankees fans better hope Cashman is swinging a deal for a pitcher or signing one of the big time free agents.

The acquisition of Ray by the Diamondbacks is an interesting one. The 23-year old is still somewhat of an unknown commodity. He made six starts and three relief appearances for the Tigers this past season and was roughed up, though he was impressive in his first two starts (11.1 IP, 1 ER 7 K). The 6’2″ left-hander was selected by the Washington Nationals in the 12th round of the 2010 draft and was traded to Detroit last December as part of a package to get Doug Fister.

Ray averaged better than 10 Ks per nine innings in a 2013 season that was split between Advanced A’ Potomac (Carolina League) and Double-A Harrisburg (Eastern League). Perhaps it was the trip to the Majors, but Ray wasn’t as effective last season at either Triple-A Toledo or with Detroit.

Leyba just turned 19 in September and had an impressive 30 games (.914 OPS) stint for Western Michigan in the Midwest League, after a rough 37 games in the New York-Penn League.

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What’s Up Baseball? – 7/9

ScherzerScherzer vs. Greinke tonight in Detroit


“It’s a great day for a ball game; let’s play two!” – Ernie Banks aka Mr. Cub

by Designated for Assignment Staff

How’s this for a pitching match up when the LA Dodgers and Detroit Tigers meet today? Zack Greinke vs. Max Scherzer. Greinke, the 2009 AL Cy Young winner is 11-4, 2.66 with 119 strikeouts to just 22 walks. Scherzer, last year’s AL Cy Young Award winner, hasn’t been as good as he was in 2013, but he hasn’t been bad either. The 11th overall pick (by Arizona) in the 2006 draft, Scherzer has compiled a 10-3 record, a 3.47 ERA and 139 strikeouts opposed to 33 walks.

Scherzer was part of the three-way trade with the New York Yankees, Detroit, and Arizona in 2006. Who got the best of it? In addition to getting Scherzer, and Daniel Schlereth, from AZ the Tigers picked up Phil Coke and Austin Jackson from the Yankees. The Dbacks got Ian Kennedy from NY and Edwin Jackson from the Motor City while Curtis Granderson went from Detroit to the Yankees.  Yeah, I’m voting Detroit on that one. The only players still on the same team five years later are Scherzer, A. Jackson and Coke. (Schlereth was just reacquired by Detroit from Pittsburgh.)

Brandon McCarthy (Yankees) and Jason Hammel (A’s) make their debuts for their new teams tonight. It remains to be seen if McCarthy, who claims he’s pitched better than his record while with Arizona, will be effective for the Bronx Bombers. Either way, Yankees fans will get to enjoy tweets from McCarthy’s wife Amanda like this one:

Hobbes is Mrs. McCarthy’s beloved Westie.

How about the Oakland A’s, one of McCarthy’s former teams. They picked up their 57th win last night, a franchise record for wins prior to the All-Star break. They accomplished the feat despite losing starter pitchers A.J. Griffin and Jarrod Parker for the year, before the year even started, and 13 blown saves from the bullpen. Now they’ve added Jeff Samardzija and Hammel. How deep is the A’s staff now? Tommy Milone was sent to the minors, despite a 2.62 ERA in his last 11 starts and a 6-0 record in that stretch.

Masahiro Tanaka had his worst outing of his Yankees career last night. Michael Brantley gave him the most trouble with a home run and two doubles. Overall, the Indians tagged him for five earned runs and 10 hits in 6.2 innings pitched. And there were no midge attacks. Tanaka has lost three of four starts, but he pitched well enough in two of them to win. A 2-1, 9th inning loss to the Red Sox and an 8-0 loss to the Orioles, in which Tanaka allowed three earned runs in seven innings, were the previous two losses.

 Update 5 pm – As first reported by George King III of the NY Post, Tanaka headed back to NY for an MRI after complaining about discomfort in his right forearm.

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MLB Preview: Mets Look To Amaze In 2014

MLB: Arizona Diamondbacks at New York Mets

by Brandon Karsten

Key Acquisitions: OF Curtis Granderson, OF Chris Young, RHP Bartolo Colon. Key Losses: LHP Johan Santana, RHP David Aardsma. Last year looked like it was going to be a great year for right-handed pitcher Matt Harvey. He won his first four starts and had a 7-2 record heading into the All-star break. He even got the chance to start the game, which was played in his home ballpark. He didn’t disappoint with a pair of innings pitched in which he struck out three batters and allowed one hit.

However, things went downhill for the youngster after the Midsummer Classic. Pain in his pitching elbow caused the Mets to shut him down  in mid-August and Tommy John surgery ensued. The injury epitomized the Mets’ hopeful start and disappointing finish.. It’s Spring Training, which means renewed hope for the team and for Harvey. Despite not being able to pitch in 2014, the New York Times reported Harvey started to throw from 60 feet for the first time since the October surgery, and felt good afterward.1

For 2014, however, the Mets will have to turn to other players to pick up the slack to improve on last year’s 74-88 record. The Mets made some moves this offseason hoping to improve on last year’s lackluster offense. They signed free agent outfielder Curtis Granderson after he played four years for the cross-town Yankees. The amiable Chicago native signed a manageable four-year, $60 million deal. The 32-year-old speedster had a bad year in 2013 due to injuries to his forearm and pinkie finger as a result of hit by pitches. He was limited to 61 games after back-to-back 40 home runs seasons for the Yanks. Granderson is expected to bat cleanup behind veteran third baseman David Wright in 2014.2

The Mets continued to add potential power to their outfield when they signed Chris Young to a one-year, $7.25 million pact in late November. Young played with Oakland last year and though he hit just .200 in 107 games played, he’s hit 20 or more home runs four times in his career. With the Young signing, the question the Mets have to answer is where to put Granderson, Young, Juan Lagares and possibly Eric Young, Jr in the Citi Field outfield.3 New York then turned to Oakland ace Bartolo Colon and inked him to a two-year, $20 million deal 4.

Additionally, the Mets signed a number of players to minor league deals, including Jeremy Hefner, veteran reliever Kyle Farnsworth, and swing-man John Lannan. But the most notable addition was Daisuke Matsuzaka, better known as Dice-K. Matsuzaka started last year with Cleveland, but asked for his release in August and got it, and the Mets then picked him up almost immediately. Among the minor league prospects that hope to join the Mets in the not to distant future  include right-handed starting pitcher Noah Snydergaard.

Snydergaard was originally the Toronto Blue Jays’ 38th overall draft pick from 2010, but went to the Mets in a trade that included former N.L. Cy Young Award winner R.A. Dickey in the 2012-13 offseason. Snydergaard started the 2013 season in Port St. Lucie and ended in double-A Binghamton with a chance to pitch in the Futures Game for Team USA in between those stops. He received  non-roster invitee to Spring Training this year, though the New York Daily News reported that the Mets expect him to start the year in Triple-A Las Vegas.

Like Snydergaard, catcher Travis d’Arnaud came over to the Mets in the R.A. Dickey trade and looks to go north with the team after Spring Training. d’Arnaud made his major league debut in mid-August of last year and hit .202 in 31 games. Twenty-three-year old Zack Wheeler came to the Mets from the San Francisco Giants organization in a 2011 trade that sent Carlos Beltran to the Giants. Wheeler made his highly-anticipated Major League debut in mid-June at Atlanta. His 2013 stats include a 7-5 record and  84 strikeouts in 100 innings pitched.

With all of the teams in the NL East upgrading their rosters this winter, the Mets will have their work cut out for them to compete for the division title. But confidence is high in the Mets camp with GM Sandy Alderson and team captain David Wright telling ESPN reporter Adam Rubin 90 wins is a very attainable goal for 2014.  Our own Jim Monaghan takes a look at whether or not the Mets’ goal is attainable.

3 – ESPN.com
Brandon Karsten is a contributor to Designated Four Assignment. He can be found on Facebook or contacted by email at bkarsten2009@hotmail.com

Mets, 90 Wins? Maybe Sandy’s Not So Off-Base

By Jim Monaghan

Sandy Alderson

Sandy Alderson
(photo courtesy NY Daily News)

At a staff meeting late last month, New York Mets general manager Sandy Alderson raised more than a few eyebrows when he said that the Mets are capable of winning 90 games in 2014.   Once details on that meeting got out (as reported by John Harper in the New York Daily News), the laughs and the one-liners started flying.

First, the reality – the Mets are coming off five straight losing seasons.  There’s no Matt Harvey coming through that locker room door to pitch every fifth day until 2015 (though Harvey did tweet this morning that “Harvey Day 2014” will happen).

https://twitter.com/MattHarvey33/status/442281918965743616

And we still have no concrete idea just how much the Bernie Madoff financial scandal has strangled ownership’s ability to spend enough cash to field a competitive team.

But while the media may be laughing all the way to their laptops and twitter accounts, and the fans (and maybe even Mets players) may be skeptical, perhaps there’s a method to Alderson’s madness that goes beyond whatever the Mets’ final win tally will be in 2014.

As much as anything else, the Mets organization needs an attitude adjustment.  Alderson’s proclamation of 90 wins should be seen more as a statement that team management has raised the bar, that mediocrity isn’t going to be accepted.

Following the Red Sox 2013 World Series victory, I had the chance to speak with two senior team executives.  One told me that while the organization knew the team would perform better simply by the change in managers from Bobby Valentine to John Farrell, no one really expected the end result the organization got.  The other executive put it in different terms telling me, “We went out and got guys who loved to play baseball and who wanted to be here.  If you didn’t want to be here, we didn’t want you here.”

Sandy Alderson’s 90-win statement should be taken by players in the organization, from low-A ball to Citi Field as a sign that anything less than a desire to win and an expectation to win will not be tolerated.  Organizational attitude adjustments need to start from the top.  This is a good sign for the Mets.  Oh, and they might want to sign Stephen Drew to play shortstop, too.  Just sayin’.

For more on the Mets’ offseason moves and the 2014 season, check out Brandon Karsten’s Mets’ preview.

Jim Monaghan can be heard Monday through Friday mornings on the WDHA Morning Jolt from 6-10AM & Sundays from 7-10AM with “All Mixed Up.”  He’s also an instructor at Professional Baseball Instruction in Upper Saddle River.  Follow him on twitter – @Monaghan21.