A Month of Fundays

A New York Yankees, Giants, Knicks, Rangers and other stuff blog.

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Tuesday, September 30, 2014

Duclair Scores YET AGAIN in Ranger Loss

Holy Frijoles, this kid is amazing.   The Rangers sent kids and dregs to Philly tonight, and the dregs basically prevented the kids from winning.   That said, the Rangers were down 3-1 in the third when Duclair used his speed to beat his man around the net and pot a perfect pass from Dom Moore.  Moore had earlier assisted on Hagelin's shorty in the first period, when Duclair was in the box for spinning some guy by his shoulders.  Later in the third, Duclair drew a penalty, when they had to hold for fear he's score again.  On the power play that followed, the Philly announcers were catching their breath every time he had the puck.  It was reminiscent of announcers' reactions to Pavel Bure.

The Rangers will be a better, faster, and scarier team this year if Duclair is a member.  He's proven it. Give him a better number.

Yanks Farm Review: Things That Went Right Pt. 3

College hitters really started to hit.   Aaron Judge had a fantastic year, and so did Rob Refsnyder and Kyle Roller.   This is sort of a complete sea change for the organization, and represents much better work by the scouts.  See, the problem with college hitters, other than that they're older and need to advance more quickly, is that they spend so much time with aluminum bats, it's hard to project their permanent adjustment to wood -- even if they've had a good summer in a wood bat league.  A summer league like that just isn't going to be a big enough sample size to make any conclusive decisions.    So the Yankee scouts have somehow gotten better at figuring out which guys were really going to be able to hit with wood, and that's a big deal.

The other problem with collegiate bats was that the Yanks never had a shot at the top guys, and spent a lot of years just trying to fill out the SI roster.   That changed a few years ago, and we're really starting to see the results now.  The advent of the college bat in the system was delayed a bit by the injuries to David Adams and a few others, but it looks like it's here to stay, as guys like Mark Payton hit the ground hitting this year after they were drafted.

So, College Bats were a big improvement and no longer need to be thought of as low ceiling organizational players.

Various: Cashman and Yanks Working on New Deal

Well, this probably will not be too popular around here, but it looks like Brian Cashman is staying with the Yanks.  It will be interesting to see if this is just a re-up of his current job, or whether they're giving him a promotion, or a new position or if they plan on building a new constellation of executive talent around him.  I was pretty sure this was a foregone conclusion, so I'm neither intrigued or depressed about it.   We'll have to see what else they do.

The key to this offseason is not to lose draft picks for FA's and not to trade the good prospects for old stars.  It's that simple.  The one this I was worried about with the possibility of a new GM was that he'd come in and trade the good kids to make a splash on the MLB field next year.

Apparently, Knicks Camp Has Opened

Who knew?  The Knicks are up at West Point, learning the triangle and feeling out their new coach and staff. I think I would have been more excited about this season if we had more young players, or had had more cap room during this offseason.   As it is, I am interested, but realize the next two years are probably where it's at, and not so much this year.   Still, they're not doing anything wrong right now, and we can keep talking about them.

Rangers Tonight

Rangers are in Philly tonight, for the second of their home and home series with the Flyers.  If things are going to get ugly, it'll be tonight.

Some of the kids, including Duclair, Haggerty and Hayes will play again tonight.   This leads me to hope that the jobs are really open and that the Rangers don't plan on starting the season with retreads. It also leads me to talk about how underrated the Ranger system has been lately.  

There's a tendency in hockey to sanctify draft position.   In other words, a first rounder will get more attention and more chances as time goes by because he was a first rounder.  So even when a team makes a first round mistake, that player will still get more chances than say a third or fourth rounder who can skate circles around him.   I think the Rangers dearth of first rounders has lead to the pundits underrating them.

But, the Rangers have been getting bang for their bucks in the draft whether they've had first rounders or not, and are really making hay, or Hayes, with these college players they are signing.   Haggerty and Hayes remind me a bit of when the system finally started bouncing back, several years ago now, and produced Callahn and Dubinsky.

Hockey's different than say baseball because it's so team intensive, i.e., you play offense and defense together and share the puck at all time.  Still, Bill James said something about baseball players that make as much sense for hockey players.   He said that the majority of a player's value was in his being average.   That can be easily understood by looking at a stat like OPS+ .  Saying a guy has an OPS+ of 120.  He's then 20% above average, but most of his value is in being league average.

If you think about hockey players, it's much the same.  Gretzky might have had a couple of season when he was 2 x average, but the greatest part of even the great one was his being average.

Okay, so what's this got to do with the Rangers?  When the Ranger farm is productive, like it is now and has been for awhile, they are producing players who can be better than average, and those are the kind of guys that teams win with.

Prospect rankings generally focus too much on presumptive value above average without accounting for the average part enough, which is deficient in most players who bust.   Thus, the Rangers' system of above average prospects will always be underrated, until the players start helping the Rangers win at the NHL level.

Having said all of that, Duclair is the goods, and so is Buchnevich.    They're only underrated because they were third rounders, and they were only third rounders because of league wide mistakes.

We'll see if Duclair scores again tonight, but one thing that's worth watching while he's out there is his aggressive defense.  He is alway trying to steal the puck back, and usually getting very good position.

Monday, September 29, 2014

Rangers: The Good Hands People

Wow.  The Ranger prospects continued to put on a show as they crushed the Flyers 6-3 tonight.  Hank did not have a very good game, partly due to costly turnovers by Miller and Staal which lead to 2 Flyer goals.   Anyway, Duclair started the scoring with a laser from the circle.  Man, can he skate and shoot, as well as pass.     Haggerty, playing on the same 4th line with him then had 2 goals, both the kind you associate with scoring power forwards, one where he swept across the front of the net then parked it, the other where he flew down the wing and won short side.    Both Duclair and Haggerty also had assists and also almost scored even more goals.

Mueller, who was playing 4th line C, scored and had an assist as well, but he scored by potting a loose puck on the PP.

Jesper Fast had the other two goals.  His first was the redirection of a Dan Boyle shot and went in off his body.  His second goal came on a beautiful backhand pass from Kevin Hayes, who was behind the net, but fed Fast right in the slot.   Goal!  Hayes had two assists.

Dylan McIlrath played a really smart game, and, surprisingly none of the Flyers wanted to fight him.   He didn't press the matter too much as he was busy using his body to buy space, check people, screen people and make smart passes.   He did turn it over once, but instead of letting it turn into a scoring opportunity for the Flyers, he skated after the pass and separated the Flyer from it.  Hayes made a play like that, too.  Staal and Miller didn't.

Btw, other than the turnover, Miller again looked really good.  He, Nash and St.Louis came created a bunch of good chances, but Mason saved his best saves for them.

McDonagh got into a fight.   That was weird.   Later, he ran into an elbow, and we're lucky he didn't seem to be concussed.

The Rangers are going to have some easy decisions to make, but let's see if they have the guts to make them.   The kids are better than the re-treads.  Let's go, Rangers!

Rangers Tonight

Tonight, the Rangers begin a pair of back to back  home and homes against the Flyers.    Most likely, we will see the marginal vets (who are healthy enough to play) heavy in the first game, while the kids have to make the trip tomorrow.    By the time these games are done, the Rangers will only have 2 games left to get ready for the season.   They'll likely make their next cuts on Wednesday, and then we should get a good idea of how fair it has or hasn't been.   The kids are outplaying the free agents by a mile or two, so far.

Sunday, September 28, 2014

This Week on the Blog

Okay, could be a really interesting week on the blog and three out of four of the teams have to make decisions.

Yanks:  Their season is over, but a rather crucial offseason has begun.   They may start moving front offices pieces now, or they could wait until the contracts are up after the World Series.    We might start hearing some buzz about what their overall plans are, or at least start reading some reporters ideas of what they should be.

Giants:  The Giants have to decide what to do with Jayron Hosley by tomorrow, so a roster move could happen, there, unless cutting him is the roster move.  Seems like Beckham is finally full go, so we'll have to hope that there are no other setbacks before his debut.   Perhaps Beason will be back.

Rangers:  The Rangers will continue with their preseason schedule and are expected to make more cuts after the Tuesday game this week.  It will be interesting to see if they really are running a camp where the best players win the jobs, because, so far, the prospects have been outplaying the pros.   So we'll see if that's allowed to happen with the roster decisions.

Knicks:  They've got to start camp at some point, don't they?  Oh, and we'll probably see more articles about JR Smith.

Friday, September 26, 2014

Duclair Scores a Goal and an Assist as Rangers Win 4-1

The kid is making it hard on the Rangers!   First he scored on a beautiful feed from Rick Nash (who looked alive and may actually be over his various concussions) in the first, then in the third he had a secondary assist on the goal by JT Miller.   Miller looks great.  Meanwhile, Lindberg also had a goal in the first off a transition turnover.  I think we're going to see a much stronger transition game in year 2 under AV.    Hrivik had the final goal on a diving effort play.   So it was an all prospect night of scoring against Chicago in Chicago!

Rangers Tonight

The Rangers are playing their second preseason game tonight and their using an almost completely different lineup.   Miller and Lundqvist are the only holdovers.  And our camp longshot Anthony Duclair is playing on the first line with Brassard and Nash.   Let's hope he doesn't make the same young Ranger mistake Kreider and Stepan were making last year and hand off his best scoring chances to try to set up Nash, who should have been traded already.    Let's hope he impresses.

It will also be the preseason debut of McD and McI, let's really hope Dylan impresses.  We knew it would be a wait when we drafted him, but we really need him to come through in his appointed role.


Yankees Farm Review: Things That Went Right Pt. 2

People like to complain about the Yankees drafting relievers.  But the truth is, one of the best ways for them to keep payroll down so they can fill needs, is by becoming completely self-reliant when it comes relievers.   In other words, no more money spent on other people's FA's, just a pure pipeline of prospects, and the Yanks have the horses to do that now.

Guys like Lindgren, who was the Yanks first pick in the 2014 draft and is a potential lefty relief ace, and Nick Rumbelow the big righty from LSU made huge strides toward the major league pen this year.  And there are still more guys on the way, as well as guys like Jose Ramirez who was converted to relief and could stabilize as suddenly as Betances did.

The games will keep getting shorter, and because most of these guys can throw two innings, even if Girardi stays manager for a few more years, they won't have to carry 12 or thirteen pitchers, which Joe would do if he was allowed.

Thursday, September 25, 2014

Eli Money!

Wow.  Do the Giants ever hate racism. They just took the Washington franchise out behind the national woodshed and let them have it.   Eli threw for 4 TD's and ran for another 1 for exactly 300 yds passing.   He'll be charged with an INT but it was actually another TD pass, where Randle caught the ball, got both feet down in the end zone and the skins punched it out.  It was a terrible call, and since all scoring plays are reviewed and the Giants were already in pound mode, the NFL office decided it was an interception and not a touchdown.  Pathetic.

The Giant D's was a little up and down, but came up with two forced fumbles and recoveries and 4 interceptions.

Btw, Larry Donnell caught 3 TD's and Daniel Fells caught the other.  Andre Williams later scored on the ground.

People will soon start wondering what Eli's numbers would have looked like if he'd always been in the WCO like so many QB's with better numbers.

But whatever,  Eli is Money.

Yanks Win!

Thanks, Cap.

Yankees Farm Review: Things That Went Right, Part 1

The first thing we're going to talk about on plus side of the farm rebound, is the work of the Yankees overseas scouts.   Of course, most scouts would come up with some hits if they were given a 30M payroll, and the Yankee scouts used their's to lop the top off of this year's 7/2 market.   But more importantly, for this year, some of those same scouts' bargains from summers past started to really kick ass, lead by Luis Severino.   In 2014, Severino emerged as the latest in an intermittent line of undersized Yankee aces, that includes Ford and Guidry.    Parcells would call Severino short, rather than small, as he has massively strong legs that generate a lot of his power with somewhat subtle movements.

On the player side, Luis Torrens and a few of the other recent era signings popped, most notably SS Jorge Mateo.   Dig this, Mateo was in the GCL and getting on base, then stealing bases for the first few weeks of the season, then he got hurt and missed most of the season.   He was still basically in rehab when he played in the playoffs.  Still, he was so impressive that BA listed him as the #4 prospect in the GCL.  Imagine if he'd played the whole season.

Other guys, like Miguel Andujar had at least breakout parts of their seasons.   There were also a bunch of 19 and 20 years olds in the GCL who looked impressive, but we'll have to see them against older comp to know if they're real or not.

But the performances of so many of the recent, Hal Era IFA's in short season and full season ball, speaks well of the scouts.  And those same scouts are the guys that signed Dermis Garcia and all those other hitters in July.   You can bet some will eventually impress.   So, that part of the program is going right.

Giants Tonight

The Giants have rolled South to play the team that shall not be named tonight on the NFL's concocted Thursday Night Football.   Hopefully the Giants can keep it going from Sunday, and limit the big mistakes.   To that end, they have replaced Stevie Brown at S.    We'll see if doing it with  Demps instead of Berhe was a good idea, but either will probably play a bit better than Brown did.   Beason is out again, so the Giants will need to really swarm the ball carrier, since Herzlich can't do anything, It will be interesting to see if the OL can continue jelling, that can only make them better.

I think Andre Williams will finally break one tonight.   Just a hunch.  

One more week we get Beckham back.   Let's go, Giants!

Wednesday, September 24, 2014

Yanks at a Crossroads

So the Yanks didn't make the playoffs for the second year in a row, for the first time since they began their latest streak of relative dominance and flat out dominance in 1994.   That's 20 years.   They needed a breather, and should have taken one.

Instead, after not making the playoffs last year, they wisely chose not to match or surpass Seattle's offer to Robinson Cano, their last great homegrown hitter.  But instead of saving the first rounders they gained from that decision and others,  they went out and bought 3 over 30 MLB veterans who came with draft pick compensation.   So there went the 2014 draft pool, as well as the chance to get three more premium players for the system they had given lip service to rebuilding, and the chance to get creative with the allotment and add some preps outside of the first round.

Then they did something smart, and grabbed Masahiro Tanaka.   This was a great move and if he hadn't gotten hurt, the Yanks might not have been eliminated by now.

That turned out to be a masterstroke, because Tanaka is an ACE, and he's still young enough that,  even if he ends up needing TJ surgery, he will still be in his 20's when the really high upside kids start showing up from the farm. If he doesn't need it he will provide continuity at the top of the rotation going forward, in place of the declining CC Sabathia, who never should have been re-signed after he opted out the last time.

The Yankee pitching this year was pretty uniformly good, even with the in season injuries to so many starters, and some dead periods for the bullpen.  What's more, there was good news on the pitching side of the farm, with the breakout year by Severino, the impressive debut of Clarkin, and some more velo added during the draft.

The big problems this year were the offense, and for part of the year, the defense.

The weirdness was that the Yanks did not turn to the farm for help with the O and even D.  Instead, they traded crap for steadier gloved crap, and kept trying to get by with more and more veterans.

It still doesn't make any sense.

So, in the next 8 weeks or so we will get a pretty good idea of what their plan is to fix this disaster they've created.  First, we'll see if there will be new people making the decision, a mix of old and new, a reshuffling of the deck, or status quo more or less.   Then we'll see if they are still eager to play fast and loose with their picks.   If they are we're in for a repeat of this year.   But if their plan includes only hiring vets who don't cost picks on one year contracts, then things might change just a bit faster.

We'll see.  But this, my friends, was brutal and that's more about what was wasted than about what was lost.

Yanks Officially Eliminated

More on this in the months to come, but never has this team made so little of so much.  Things have to change or it will be the same script for years to come.

Duclair Survives the First Round of Cuts

As all of the other junior players were sent down today, Anthony Duclair stayed with the big club.  Though things are still squarely rigged against him making the team, it is encouraging that he is apparently separating himself from the other junior prospects.

In a bit of a surprise, Chris McCarthy was among the first cuts, while the other college aged prospects were all kept.   Not very good news for Chris.   The other big gets from the offseason, Hayes, Haggerty and Bodie all made it through this round.

But the big news so far is Duclair.   And this is only the beginning of the big news for this kid as a Ranger.

Stepan: Fractured Fibula

This is really bad news.   We're probably talking months and not weeks, but the hockey gods have once again conspired to screw up the beginning of a Derek Stepan season.     When he gets back, we'll probably see Stepan-lite as we always do in after these weird beginnings.  Hopefully, we're still in position to make the playoffs and he can be the real Stepan again by then, but it's going to be tough.

This probably does create another opening for a kid, so 2 of Miller, Lindberg and Hayes, could make the team, unless they go for an outside solution or stick with Lombardi, who looked slow and weak on Monday.

Just terrible news for the Rangers.

Tuesday, September 23, 2014

Odell Beckham Jr. Returns to Practice

No, Odell won't play against the Skins on Thursday, but he could play against the Falcons in week 5.   This is, of course, great news and should revolutionize both the offense, and our return games.  Go watch his highlights again on youtube if you think I'm kidding.  The minute he is active he will be one of the best players on the team.  

Pirela Stuff

So Jose Pirela finally got his shot last night and he delivered.   The fact is, they knew this kid could hit when they signed him several years ago.   They specifically compared his ability to barrel the ball to Cano's.

Of course, as soon as he spanked his RBI triple last night, everyone had to be wondering why he wasn't up sooner.   Why he, Roller, Refsnyder and others weren't up at the deadline is ponderous.  The Yanks have become bad at scouting their own system.  And I'm wondering if Gene Michael has finally lost it or something.   Over they years I got the feeling that he was identifying the ones to keep and not trade.   I should have been more suspicious when Nunez was kept around for so long, but something is definitely broken in the Yankee evaluations of their own inventory.

The Yanks won't make the playoffs this year, and it won't be because of the pitching injuries, nor will it even be because of their free agent foolishness last winter, it will because they didn't call up the players they already had who could have helped.