The Dawn of the New Season…

Photo Credit: AP


Opening Day is nearly upon us…

Finally, and long overdue, we will soon enter Baseball Week as the 2020 MLB Season is just a short 5 days away. All hail, Joltin’ Joe DiMaggio! Nothing against the Yankee Clipper, Lou Gehrig, Babe Ruth, Derek Jeter or Alfred Manual Martin, Jr but I will be glad when we’re Adam Ottavino’s jersey away from first pitch!

I have to admit that a Gerrit Cole versus Max Scherzer match-up in the Nation’s Capitol is as excited as I’ve been to see a regular season game in a very long time. I know, these two were on the same field together last October when they faced each other in Game 1 of the 2019 World Series. The Washington Nationals won that game, 5-4, at time when we didn’t really care and actually wanted Cole to lose while wearing the disgraced uniform of the Houston Astros. Times have changed, and Yankee fans will be resoundingly behind Gerrit Cole this time around as we cheer from our Lazy Boy recliners and couches. Aside from the pandemic, it’s a wonderful time to be alive and fans of the greatest and most-storied baseball franchise.

Aside from the back to back dingers by Miguel Andujar and Mike Ford, Cole looked ready to go in his last “spring” performance before Opening Day. He threw 87 pitches, 53 for strikes, while giving up only four hits and striking out seven. It’s the dawn of a new era and I am glad Gerrit Cole represents the face and the arm of the Yankees’ starting rotation for the next decade. Welcome, Gerrit, your debut with the famed interlocking N-Y cap on your head as you stare down at the defending World Champions at Nationals Park in Washington, D.C. will be a magical moment for all of us. We will be as excited to see you pitch as young Caden Cole and his mother will be. Okay, Caden might be more interested in his mother’s breast but it’s still a thrilling time.   

Photo Credit: Kathy Willens, AP


Giancarlo Stanton takes the brunt of frustration from Yankees fans but I really hope this is a strong year for the Yankees slugger. I’ve been disappointed with his inability to stay healthy, like everyone else, but under the premise “the glass is half full”, I am hopeful and optimistic Stanton can be the force he was for the 2017 Miami Marlins.

I harbor the same hope for health and productivity when it comes to Aaron Judge but he has had an easier time with the fan base. Having Stanton and Judge batting in the same lineup is almost as exciting as Gerrit Cole on the mound, especially considering their bats will be protected by Miguel Andujar, Gleyber Torres and Gary Sanchez, among others. Sorry Luke, not purposely trying to exclude you. 

I doubt he’s ready by Thursday but I am excited to see D.J. LeMahieu back in Yankees camp after his recovery from COVID-19. Hopefully, if he’s not ready, he soon will be. I want to see LeMahieu force the Yankees to give him an extension. I am not ready for this guy’s Yankees career to end after the upcoming shortened season. I know, Le Machine is 32 years old (Happy Belated Birthday to him, by the way…his birthday was last Monday). The Yankees are age-adverse in modern times, unless your name is Brett Gardner, so age is not exactly D.J.’s friend in upcoming negotiations but I think he can be a very effective player for a few more years and I’d rather see him do it Pinstripes.

Photo Credit: Charles Wenzelberg, The New York Post


Granted, I haven’t followed the story closely, but why does it matter that Clint Frazier will wear a mask during games? That’s his right. I have no issue with it. The mask doesn’t hit or field. Frazier just needs to prove he can stay healthy and perform well when he is on the field. I couldn’t care less if he is wearing a mask even if he’s the only player on the field with one. I am a firm believer that masks are to help protect you from me and not vice versa. So, Clint’s statement is that he cares about his teammates. What’s wrong with that message? I haven’t exactly been Clint’s biggest supporter but on this issue, please leave him alone. 

Photo Credit: Elsa, Getty Images


Domingo German caused a stir on Social Media yesterday when he posted a pic of himself on a St Petersburg, FL beach which fades into a pic of him and his small son, followed by the words “Me fui del baseball. Gracias mi gente.” which translates to “I’ve left baseball. Thanks everyone”. My first reaction was that it is simply his way of saying goodbye to baseball in 2020 since he’ll be serving his suspension for the duration of the season, but media speculation centered on the possibility he’s leaving the game permanently. With the money he stands to make in future years, it does seem foolish that he’d walk away entirely at age 27. I am hopeful the words are only an expression for the frustration he feels at the moment, and once he’s cleared to play, he’ll return with the same passion for the game he once had as a young pitcher trying to make the Major Leagues. With the potential losses in the Yankees’ starting rotation in the off-season, they’ll need guys like German if the younger arms are not ready. Granted, German has to do what’s best for him and his family but I do believe his future is brighter in the game, particularly if he is able to build upon his success last season. Everyone deserves a second chance and German is no exception.

 

I don’t know why I was saddened to see the news the Yankees had released pitcher Adam Warren from his minor league contract. He was not going to pitch this year after Tommy John surgery and he wasn’t exactly setting the World on fire with his teams after leaving the Yankees last time. But he has always been effective for the Yankees and I guess I was hoping to see if he would be able to rekindle the magic in Pinstripes next season. I am sure the release was due to coronavirus roster management as some have reported but I am hopeful the Yankees can sign Warren to a re-negotiated minor league contract. Jack Curry of the YES Network, a trusted source, did report Warren was a “casualty” of new COVID-19 rules and Brian Cashman said the Yankees will re-sign in the winter (per Twitter). I hope so.

The Yankees have signed all three draft picks from the recent MLB draft. Second baseman/outfielder Trevor Hauver of Arizona State University was the last to sign. Jack Curry reported that Hauver signed for $587,000. Pitcher Beck Way, LSU, previously signed for $600,000, and catcher Austin Wells was the first to ink his name on a Yankees contract for a cool $2.5 million.

To borrow and modify the famous words of former Dodgers broadcaster Vin Scully, it’s time for Yankees baseball!  Let’s go! Coronavirus Champions or bust! We got this.

As always, Go Yankees!

KC Rain 1, Yankees 0…

Photo Credit: USA Today

Rainout forces Day/Night Doubleheader Today…

Although the rain clouds seem to have followed the team on their trip to the Midwest, not much else has dampened the excitement of the 2019 New York Yankees. The unprecedented rash of multiple injuries that has landed so many guys on the 10-day/60-day Injured Lists has not seemed to slow down this fun and exciting team. In the long run, the team will be better off when Aaron Judge, Giancarlo Stanton, Luis Severino, and others return, but for now, I am certainly enjoying the ride.

We were given some great news yesterday when Manager Aaron Boone announced that shortstop Didi Gregorius will begin a rehab assignment in Tampa on Saturday.  With a maximum of 20 days allowed for rehab, we’re less than three weeks away from Sir Didi’s return. It could be sooner than later since Didi probably does not need the full 20 days to get Major League ready. This feels like a great, great mid-season pickup. I don’t want to take away from the tremendous job done by Gleyber Torres during Didi’s absence. Gleyber and DJ LeMahieu have been outstanding working together at shortstop and second. Once Didi reclaims short, Gleyber will slide back over to second and LeMahieu will most likely be redeployed at third base, moving Giovanny Urshela, who has also done a brilliant job, into the utility role. I love the job Gio has done and his glove is special but you can’t take LeMahieu out of the lineup. He’ll probably see time at first base too on the days Luke Voit handles DH. The potential losers, to me, appear to be Kendrys Morales and Troy Tulowitzki.  Tulo has expressed willingness to play other positions but seriously I’d rather have Gio and Thairo Estrada than Tulo on the Major League Roster. Estrada will probably lose out since he has options but it’s too bad because he has proven he belongs. There’s no scenario I see Tulo with the Yankees next year.

When Didi had his Tommy John surgery last year, I thought it was ridiculous of those who said he could be back by May or June. I honestly felt that has an overly aggressive timetable, yet here we are.  We’re very fortunate Didi has not dealt with the setbacks encountered by other injured team players like Luis Severino and Giancarlo Stanton. For Didi, everything has seemed to go according to plan from the first day following the surgery. It is a credit to the man Didi is, mixed with a little luck, I am sure. For as great a player Didi is, I’ve missed his infectious personality despite how fun the 2019 Yankees have been. While I feel bad for those who will lose playing time, I am excited about Didi’s return and the team is better with his presence. I know my Twitter account is looking forward to seeing Didi’s post-game Emoji tweets.

Credit: @sirdidig18 on Instagram

I thought Giancarlo Stanton would be back before Gregorius but it does not appear to be the case. Hopefully the current rest for Stanton puts him back on track when he returns to baseball activities within the next couple of weeks. I’m all for limiting Brett Gardner’s play in left field and putting Stanton in right until Aaron Judge returns would go a long way toward making Gardy the valuable bench player he should be at this stage of his career.

I am not going to lie, I am worried about James Paxton. The reports of continued pain in his balky knee are troubling.  Everyone is holding their collective breath for how Paxton feels today. Pitching four innings in extended Spring Training yesterday, there is concern how the knee will react to the workload today. I know my knee would be saying “F**k this s**t!” Paxton has expressed the desire to pitch through the pain but that’s hardly comforting. As much as I like Paxton as a starter, there’s no denying that him and the Injured List are fond of each other. To be fair, I am sure Paxton doesn’t want to be on the Injured List. It is what it is. I am not going to overreact to say the Yankees need to sign Dallas Keuchel now or after the June draft to avoid draft pick compensation, but there’s no question the Yankees will need to do something to reinforce the starting rotation.

I don’t really think Keuchel is the answer. If he was, other teams would be rushing to sign him yet there has been nothing but crickets surrounding the pitcher who was clearly on the downward slope of career regression last season. If Keuchel was all that and a bag of chips, the Houston Astros would have resigned him long ago. I probably feel the same way about Madison Bumgarner. The guy continues to live off a World Series reputation from five years ago but doesn’t have the current stats to justify ace status or his post-season aura. I think there are better options and trust that GM Brian Cashman and staff will uncover the right arm to add. There’s no reason to overpay for pitchers that have seen their better days. Yankees Twitter seems to be implying that a deal for Max Scherzer is imminent (I highly doubt it) but that’s the type of arm I’d like to see in July. Scherzer remains among the best in Baseball and his team, the Washington Nationals, are going nowhere. A couple of bad games have inflated his ERA and his win/loss total is more reflective of the team he plays for, but generally speaking Max will give you seven innings every outing, limiting the opponent to two or fewer runs. He’s a workhorse and would significantly improve the Yankees rotation and help keep the bullpen fresh. I am sure a pennant chase would energize him. I thought Scherzer would have been a perfect Yankee when he was a free agent a couple of years ago when the Yankees were mentioned as the favorite to sign him. It didn’t happen but Scherzer has done nothing to sway my high opinion of him. The cost to get him is another matter, but that’s a problem for Brian Cashman to figure out.

Photo Credit: Hunter Martin, Getty Images

Manny Machado makes his first return to Yankee Stadium this week when the San Diego Padres arrive in the Bronx on Monday for a three-game series. It will be Manny’s first appearance there since he played for the Baltimore Orioles last season. No doubt, good or bad, he’ll receive a reaction from the Bronx crowd, more so than any other Padre who takes the field. Sorry, Adam Warren. Machado has already made the Los Angeles Dodgers pay for their decision not to resign him. In five games against his former team, he has hit 4 home runs and has driven in 7 RBIs. He is batting .368/.429/1.105, with 1.534 OPS in those games. I am sure he’ll be as motivated against the Yankees as he was with the Dodgers. While I wanted the Yankees to sign Machado last winter, that ship sailed and I am not going to cry over spilt milk. I just hope Yankee pitching is up for the task and is able to keep Machado’s bat relatively quiet for the three games. Let him take out his frustrations on the Orioles when they play next month.

Photo Credit: KC Alfred, The San Diego Union-Tribune

Don’t look now, but the Yankees’ home record of 267 team homers last year is in jeopardy. Before the season, we thought the 2019 Yankees might be the team to assault last year’s record but it is the Minnesota Twins who are currently leading the pack. Through 50 games, the Twins have slugged 101 homers and are on pace for 327 round-trippers. Although they have yet to be acknowledged as one of the AL’s best teams, they possess the best record in MLB at 34-16 (.680 winning percentage). Things seem to be going right for first-year Manager Rocco Baldelli in the Twin Cities. I kind of feel badly for Tyler Austin who was shipped from the Twins to the San Francisco Giants earlier this season. The Giants have settled in to the NL West Cellar and will undoubtedly camp out there for the duration of the year. At least Tyler is getting some great pics in San Francisco.

Photo Credit: @taustin2121 on Instagram

Speaking of San Francisco, the Giants are calling up outfielder Mike Yastrzemski according to Jon Heyman. I know, why talk about a young player with a direct bloodline to a former Red Sox great (grandson of Carl Yastrzemski), but I’ve been following young Yaz since he was a baby prospect in the Baltimore Orioles organization. I lived in Frederick, MD when he played for the Single A Frederick Keys. He didn’t succeed for the O’s but he is enjoying second life in the Giants organization (a team that, it seems, is annually in search of outfielders). At 28, he’s no longer a “prospect” but I wish him the very best as he finally arrives in The Show.

If you haven’t signed up to subscribe to Mike Axisa’s twice-weekly newsletter (https://www.patreon.com/RABthoughts), you are missing out. For the low price of $3 per month, Axisa continues to deliver the outstanding commentary, backed by  his deep insight, thoughts, and statistics, we grew accustomed to with the late River Ave Blues blog. Axisa remains one of my favorites, if not the favorite, and he’s so much better than many of the professional (allegedly) Yankee beat writers. Trust me, you look forward to Tuesdays and Fridays when Axisa’s Patreon email lands in your inbox.

Credit to Max Wildstein (@MaxWildstein on Twitter) for this one: “Domingo Germán is 9-1. Chris Sale is 1-6.” Baseball is funny or as John Sterling says, “Well, Suzyn, you know, you just can’t predict baseball”. But it reinforces why 2019 is so much more enjoyable than 2018.

The Yanks play two today, thanks to yesterday’s rainout. I couldn’t ask for a better scenario than last night when both the Tampa Bay Rays and the Boston Red Sox lost while the Yankees watched the rain fall in Kansas City. Today would be an awesome day for two NYY victories.

As always, Go Yankees!

The Resilient Yankees Capture 1st Place…

Photo Credit: Frank Franklin II/AP

Comeback Win Vaults Yankees Past Rays in AL East…

Okay, it’s just mid-May and like Aaron Boone alluded to last night after the game, it’s a long season ahead. Yet, it is satisfying to sit atop the AL East even if it is only temporary depending upon the outcome of today’s game. Standings will become more important in the months ahead but I continue to be amazed at the resiliency of this team.

Gio Urshela’s run-scoring single in the bottom of the ninth inning to win it last night may have been his game-winning hit, but it’s a microcosm of this season and how well the replacement Yankees have stepped up to support the team in the wake of injuries to multiple major team stars. I was kind of hoping Kendrys Morales would have his signature Yankee moment in his second game with a home run in the bottom of the ninth, which would have been his second of the game, to win it but it was not meant to be. Kendrys was probably wishing too hard for a homer too and that’s why he struck out. Oh well, Gio was there to pick him up.

To answer your question, yes Michael Kay, the Yankees had a rally in their bones.

Credit Luke Voit for the home run to open the bottom of the ninth to cut it to a one-run deficit. Perhaps the Yankees were destined to win it anyway but the homer changed the mood in the air. As a TV viewer, I know I was feeling a lift even if the Yankees were still trailing at that point after only putting up one run (the Morales homer in the bottom of the second) the prior eight innings.

Photo Credit: Charles Wenzelberg/NY Post

I’ve seen many jump on Aaron Boone for pitching Chad Green in the eighth inning when the Rays put two runs on the board to break the 1-1 tie. I had no problem with the move. After the game, Boone indicated that the decision was to avoid Zack Britton this game since he had thrown 31 pitches in Wednesday’s doubleheader against the Baltimore Orioles. Aroldis Chapman would have only entered in a save situation. But even without his explanation for not using Britton (or Chapman), I had no problem with Boone’s decision to bring Green into the high leverage situation. I’m sure Green would have liked a mulligan on the sixth pitch to Brandon Lowe, which Lowe ripped to deep center for a run-scoring double, but otherwise, I thought he pitched very effectively. The unearned run on the errant throw to first base by Gleyber Torres which allowed another run to score was not Green’s fault. The bullpen has been pitching so well lately, I guess the fans have come to expect zeros every time a Yankee reliever takes the mound but guess what, shit happens. I want Chad Green to be a big part of this bullpen and I hope Boone keeps rolling him out in high leverage spots. I am convinced he rediscovered himself with his brief stay in Scranton a couple of weeks ago and the results, over a broader span, will prove it. Say what you will, but I think Aaron Boone has improved as a manager over the course of two seasons.

Great job by CC Sabathia. Outside of the fourth inning solo dinger by Willy Adames which tied the game, Sabathia was excellent. It was his longest start of the season at six innings, with an economical 84 pitches. He only walked two batters, while striking out four, and lowered his season ERA to 2.97 with the single earned run on the Adames homer. The four K’s pushed the future Hall of Famer’s career strikeout total to 3,013.

Photo Credit: Mike Stobe/Getty Images

This is a strange season. I am excited about how well the Yankees have done despite missing so many huge parts of the team. On the other hand, I keep wondering when the shoe is going to drop. I really hope the replacements can keep this up until we start to get the big guns back.

Before the Yankees completed their comeback win, the Houston Astros exerted their position as the best team in the American League, right now, with their 3-1 win over the Boston Red Sox at Fenway Park. Despite their sluggish start, the Red Sox have been very strong lately as they have charged back into AL East relevance (which I had fully expected, hence, the reason I never talked smack when the Red Sox were down). The Red Sox loss and the Yankee win leaves the Sox 4 1/2 games behind the Yankees…not that it matters at this point. I didn’t watch the Astros-Red Sox game but I did see enough to shake my head and say that Alex Bregman is incredible. He didn’t do anything with his bat (1-for-4, a meaningless first inning single) but his defense play was, as usual, outstanding. Such a great all-around player. It really makes me appreciate Gio Urshela as the Yankees’ third baseman in Miguel Andujar’s absence.  A great glove at third cannot be underestimated. After the Rays game, CC Sabathia was asked if he had ever played with anyone as good defensively as Urshela, and CC couldn’t come up with a name.

Last winter, I had wanted the Yankees to sign Manny Machado for his all-around play. Who knows if he can keep it up, but at this point, Urshela has provided everything I wanted from Machado at a fraction of the cost. Manny is batting .268/.346/.470 with .347 wOBA and 120 wRC+ (1.4 WAR) in 44 games. He has 9 homers and 23 RBIs. In 10 fewer games, Urshela is batting .347/.398/.500 with .384 wOBA and 142 wRC+ (1.0 WAR).  He has 2 home runs and 16 RBIs. Granted, Machado has more power but Urshela has more than fulfilled expectations. I am not saying that Urshela will ever be the player Machado is, but I really hope that he is able to keep this up to prevent GM Brian Cashman from going outside to get further help at third base. It would be awesome if this is truly Urshela’s breakout year. Not sure how this plays out when Didi Gregorius returns to take shortstop, creating an infield crowd. But that’s a problem for another day. Today, I’ll gladly watch Urshela with amazement, play after play, day after day.

I guess it was in the back of all of our minds but it was rough hearing Carlos Beltran say that Aaron Judge will not fully recover from the oblique injury this season. I know, it’s a core muscle and anyone who has had a similar injury knows how difficult it is to let the muscle rest. In other words, you can’t. Hopefully Judge is able to get healthy enough to help the team at some point in the not-so-distant future although he hasn’t resumed baseball activities yet. I’d rather he waits until he is truly ready, even though he won’t be 100%, and not try to come back too soon. We need Judge when the summer months get here.

 

Photo Credit: Paul J Bereswill/NY Post

It’s a new day. Let’s hope the Yankees magic continues today (and tomorrow and the next day…). As with The Three Musketeers, same with The Twenty-Five New York Yankees, “all for one and one for all”.

As always, Go Yankees!

Waiting Until Next Year…

Baseball is no fun without the Yankees…

I miss the Yankees.

 As the AL and NL Championship Series play themselves out, we, the fans of the greatest franchise in the history of baseball, can only sit around and wonder what could have been. Or, like many of the self-appointed GM’s on Twitter, we can deconstruct the Yankees for an imaginary rebuild. 

What rebuild? This team doesn’t need to be rebuilt but they do need to make some changes. I know that many called for the head of Manager Aaron Boone, but even before Managing General Partner Hal Steinbrenner proclaimed that Boone would be back next year, it was apparent Boone has a long leash. I was disappointed with some of the manager’s moves in the playoffs, but I am convinced he can and will get better. I am not ready to close the door on Boone’s career with the Yankees. Unlike some Yankee fans, I am certainly not pining for the return of Joe Girardi. Look, I liked Girardi when he was the Yankees manager and I had been hopeful the team would have re-signed him when his contract expired after the 2017 season. But they didn’t and I trust the decision-making process in the Yankees’ hierarchy, and I’ve moved on. I wish Girardi well, and I hope his stay in Philly cements his legacy as good Major League manager, but you won’t find me looking for a reunion. My desire for manager reunions lived…and died…with Billy Martin.  

Maybe you can say GM Brian Cashman has been on his job too long. Perhaps. If I was Hal Steinbrenner, I’d probably re-structure the front office and basically kick Cashman upstairs. In other words, make him the team President and send Randy Levine on his way. Then, appoint a new GM to work with the analytics team and serve as the face of the organization. I don’t know if I have a specific candidate in mind. It could be an insider like Tim Naehring, a former insider like Billy Eppler, or maybe a fresh, new voice from the outside. I am a little disappointed that Kim Ng has never gotten an opportunity to be the first female GM. The last part of that sentence, in my mind, is irrelevant. Kim deserves an opportunity because she knows baseball and will be an elite general manager if she is ever given the chance. Maybe the Phillies hire her to replace the fired Matt Klentak, but I’d love to see her come back to the Yankees. It won’t happen as Hal Steinbrenner seems devoted to Cashman in his current role. “Obviously, I’ve known Brian forever, and the way he goes about doing things in a very objective way,” Steinbrenner said recently. He went on to say, “He listens to everybody—pro scouting and analytics and anybody else that wants to get into his hear. I know the people that work under him respect him, and Boone respects him, and it’s been good. We’re just going to have to keep plugging away.” It is Hal’s money.  As long as Hal is happy, it doesn’t really matter what you or I think.

The first order of business must be re-signing DJ LeMahieu. I love DJ as a Yankee, and I was a big fan of his when he played for the Colorado Rockies (I lived in Denver at the time). But for as much as I’ve called for the Yankees to re-sign him (almost with each post), the talk of a five-year contract does put me off a little.  I am completely fine with a three-year deal but five years seems to be pushing it a little too far. LeMahieu will be 33 next July. Maybe he ages well, but the thought of a 38-year-old second baseman bothers me. If the Yankees have proven anything in recent years, they’ve generally avoided extended-length contracts (unless your name is Gerrit Cole, of course). I think a three-year deal is fair for both player and team. You can build the necessary dollars into the contract to provide long-term financial security for the player, while keeping the team’s options open should the player regress with age, or if the Yankees were to go five years, I’d want to see some options in those latter years so the Yankees would have an ejection button without the contract becoming an albatross.  So, now that some dollars are being tossed around as ideas, I’ll modify my position to say I want the Yankees to re-sign LeMahieu as long as it makes financial sense to do so. I’d be devastated if he leaves, but I do believe the team needs to protect its flexibility to make future roster enhancements without the dead weight of bad contracts. 

Exercising the team option to bring back Zack Britton is a no-brainer and a must move. I’d be in favor of moving Britton into a co-closer’s role with Aroldis Chapman. Chappy seems to be getting more vulnerable with each passing year. Unfortunately, not everyone…well, in fact, no one…is Mariano Rivera.  But to make Britton the co-closer, the Yankees must make bullpen improvements. I honestly do not know what to expect with Adam Ottavino. I’ve always thought he was a great player, even when he had his struggles in Colorado, but it was difficult to have any trust in him after last year. Can he rediscover himself like he once did in Colorado? I wouldn’t bet against him, but like LeMahieu, he is older now. It gets harder.  Given Tommy Kahnle will miss the 2021 year, the Yankees have to find an elite replacement.  This isn’t a job for the young arms in the farm system. Team Cashman needs to find their next gem with a reliever that is ready to explode. The next Josh Hader is preferable. I don’t know who that is, but I am sure the Yankees have a board of non-Yankee prospects they rank for target acquisition purposes. The Tampa Bay Rays have had great success with their seemingly shot-in-the-dark acquisitions which have turned out to be brilliant discoveries. 

I don’t like Mark Teixeira’s idea of trading Luke Voit to move LeMahieu to first, Gleyber Torres back to second, and re-sign Didi Gregorius to play shortstop. I wouldn’t be opposed to Didi coming back but I don’t want LeMahieu pushed to first to make it happen. Conversely, I’d hate to see LeMahieu leave in order to bring Didi back. I think all of us were disappointed with Gleyber’s results at shortstop this year but like Aaron Boone, he will get better. Gleyber has proven to be a player who puts in the time, the commitment, the work to get better. He’s not just living the high life as a wealthy young man…he is dedicated to his craft and I think he will be successful. I get Teixeira’s belief that Luke Voit’s value has never been higher, but I am hopeful the next Yankees championship includes Voit.

Photo Credit: Rich von Biberstein, Icon Sportswire

With the disappointment of Masahiro Tanaka’s October starting performances starting to fade, I think the Yankees bring him back. They almost have to given the current state of the rotation. I’d love to see the Yankees sign a guy like Trevor Bauer despite the baggage he brings, but I don’t think they’ll spend that type of money in free agency this year. They’ll spend the money on guys in-house, and they’ll use potential trades over making any big splashes in free agency. Luis Severino offers hope but of course we won’t see him until next summer and then there’s always the caveat that it takes some guys a year to get back to their previous level. If he could provide at least the stability of a #3 starter when he returns, I’d be very happy.  It will most likely be 2022 before we can talk about him being second only to Gerrit Cole. By then, I am hopeful Clarke Schmidt and/or Deivi Garcia have fully blossomed into Major League starters.  Through all this, Tanaka offers some glue (stability) so I am convinced he’ll be back. 

I wish I had a crystal ball to see the state of Yankees’ catching in 2021. I am not sure Gary Sanchez is long for life in Pinstripes. I had hoped the new catching coordinator, Tanner Swanson, could work some magic with Sanchez, but the results were less than ideal to say the least. Losing the trust of his manager and the team’s best starting pitcher does not bode well for Gary unless he has a miraculous off-season and comes into Spring Training on a mission to awaken the Kraken. I am starting to give up hope we will ever see it happen. I am not ready to hand the keys to Kyle Higashioka yet, so I really hope this is an area the Yankees figure out this winter. I want Gary to succeed and I want him to do it as a Yankee. But if Cashman has made the determination it is not a salvageable situation, then I’ll trust him to make the decisions to make catching a strength once again. This will certainly be something I’ll be watching closer as we move into the final months of the year. 

J.A. Happ, please don’t let the door hit you on the way out.

I don’t have a grand map for how the Yankees can improve. I trust Cashman and his team to make those decisions. It will be interesting once the World Series is over and off-season planning begins to take shape. Early November moves can often be a precursor to the team’s off-season blueprint. I think at that point, we can start to make better projections for potential moves. I think the Yankees WILL be better next year. I certainly don’t think they will tear it down a year after signing Cole to the monster contract. They need to maximize the potential of the team during the best years of Cole’s contract. There is talent on the roster and there must be a focus to address the team’s weaknesses. With the right moves, the Yankees, on paper, will be among the greatest teams in MLB. Throw in the right chemistry, and 2021 could be a very special year for Yankee fans…the year we’ve been waiting for.

As always, Go Yankees!

Eleven Years and Counting…

Photo Credit: Corey Sipkin, NY Post

Rays cast Yankees aside, ending Pinstriped aspirations…

Well, that sucked.

If the Yankees had gotten any help from good health this year, they would be in the AL Championship Series, preparing to host the Houston Astros tonight in San Diego. I think the biggest disappointment is to miss the ALCS by one bad pitch. The path to the World Series this year might be the easiest it ever would have been for the Yankees. I don’t say that because I think the window is closing but the promising younger teams will only get better, increasing the competition so that you don’t have a team with a losing record and a history of cheating playing, sitting in the ALCS right now, for the right to advance to the World Series. The Yankees had a golden opportunity to exact revenge on Astros for their unethical play but sadly we must put our trust and faith in the Rays to do it.

Clearly, the Yankees must do SOMETHING about starting pitching. It will be an on-going Achilles heel unless there can be stronger and more reliable arms behind Gerrit Cole. Starting Deivi Garcia in Game 2 was a clear sign the Yankees simply did not have better options. After the high of Gerrit Cole pitching Game 1, I was deflated when I heard Garcia would get the ball in Game 2. Garcia has been a bright spot this season but the moment was too big for even him. Still, falling behind 2-1 in the series but winning the crucial fourth game, you had to like the Yankees’ chances for the fifth and final game with Cole on the mound. Unfortunately, the bats could not deliver and Year 1 of the massive Cole contract is in the books.

Photo Credit: Corey Sipkin, NY Post

As much as I’ve wanted the Yankees to bring Masahiro Tanaka back, he didn’t have a good post-season. If he had performed like he has in past Octobers, it is very possible the Tampa Bay Rays would be the team sitting at home right now.  The disappointing playoff starts have reduced my optimism the Yankees will or should bring back Masa. With the talk the Yankees will reduce spending, like all teams, after the lost revenue of the 2020 season, it is a near certainty the Yankees won’t make a big splash to land a number two starter like Trevor Bauer. Instead, it will be an off-season of looking for hidden gems ready to blossom.  It is clear Gerrit Cole needs help. He cannot do it by himself.  Whether it is Deivi Garcia and/or Clarke Schmidt or other young Yankee prospects, they need to take it to the next level. But the entirety of improvement in the starting rotation should not fall solely on the young arms. It needs to be a combination of veteran influence and exciting youthful talent and enthusiasm…just not as veteran as someone like J.A. Happ. 

I don’t have a grand plan for the off-season. The Yankees pay Brian Cashman and his henchmen a lot of money to make those decisions. However, I do know the Yankees must re-sign DJ LeMahieu. As one of the team’s best players the last two years and the 2020 AL Batting Champion, the Yankees cannot afford to let the superior defender and consummate teammate depart.

Photo Credit: Jim McIsaac, Getty Images

I’ve heard many fans call for the head of Aaron Boone. While I feel he regressed in 2020, the fact is there is not someone better out there. I respect Boone’s clubhouse skills and I think he will show the improvement evident in 2019 in future years. 2020 was just a weird, freaky, ridiculous and deadly year. Except for maybe the wave of the ten-game winning streak, there was never truly a time that I felt the 2020 Yankees had that “it” quality in terms of championship aspirations.  So, as disappointed as I was to see Mike Brosseau and the Rays beat the Yankees, I cannot say I was surprised. 

I don’t want to point fingers at the Yankees’ bench coach, Carlos Mendoza, who served as Boone’s right-hand man for the first time this season. Perhaps former bench coach Josh Bard was more valuable than what we could observe from the outside looking in. Maybe Mendy is not the right guy to offer choices to Boone in the heat of battle. I like the coach and I am not asking for his firing but maybe a different role is in order. I’ve always felt Boone would be better served by having an experienced manager as his bench coach. Not that I think Buck Showalter would accept that type of position, but he’s the type of guy I have in mind. Okay, maybe I am pointing my finger at Mendoza but I do believe the Yankees need to make the tough decisions to put Aaron Boone in the best possible position to succeed. 

As for Brian Cashman, he is not going anywhere unless a team like the New York Mets throw an overabundance of cash to Cash. I kind of like the idea of maybe bringing back former assistant GM Billy Eppler who was fired after the season as GM of the Los Angeles Angels (of Anaheim) by owner Arte Moreno. I thought Eppler did a decent job despite the handcuffs placed on him by Moreno. He could never get the pitching to support Mike Trout but I put that more on Moreno than Eppler. The obstacle for Eppler coming back is the apparent stranglehold on Eppler’s old position by trusted Cashman lieutenant, Tim Naehring. Eppler would most likely have to take a lesser role so I think he’s probably bound for another organization, maybe somewhere closer to his Southern CA home.

There are lots of decisions to be made if the Yankees intend to rebound with a vengeance in 2021. It will be another interesting (and strange off-season) with the pandemic continuing to rage across the globe and an impending battle for the White House next month. Although unrelated to baseball, these are factors that can influence significant financial decisions and commitments by all MLB teams.

If there is one guy on the roster who must improve headed into next season, it is Gleyber Torres. I am not advocate for trading him or, at this point, moving him back to second base despite the availability of so many talented shortstops. I guess I’d change my opinion if the Yankees let LeMahieu get away, but until then, I like DJ at second and not the rover he played during his first season with the Yankees. Gio Urshela has proven his worth as the starting third baseman and same with Luke Voit at first. I will always be enamored with having a guy like Francisco Lindor at short, but realistically, it will never happen. I’d rate it more likely the Yankees would go after a guy like Andrelton Simmons.

Not sure what I think about Gary Sanchez. I’ve always given him my support but after this season, given how he was first cast aside by Gerrit Cole and then later in the post-season by Aaron Boone, I don’t think he has a future in Pinstripes anymore. I certainly do not want Kyle Higashioka as the starting catcher (sorry Higgy fans). Options do seem limited, however, especially if the Yankees are looking to cut payroll. A move away from El Gary may not bring in a J.T. Realmuto to serve as his replacement. Keep expectations low seems to be the theme this year with the monetary constraints expected as a result of the pandemic.

I’d buy out Brett Gardner. Sorry. I can’t say enough about how great of a Yankee he has been. In his final game against the Rays a few days ago, he made a magnificent catch in left. But it is time to pass the baton. Clint Frazier should be the undisputed left fielder next season, with support by Mike Tauchman (or someone else if the Yankee can find an upgrade). Time to give Gardy a gold watch, pat him on the back, give him his day at Yankee Stadium and wish him well in his future endeavors.

Photo Credit: NJ Advance Media for NJ.com

I am hopeful and optimistic for the 2021 despite my concerns noted above. I do think the Yankees will make the right decisions. I don’t see any team going hog wild in free agency this year and I trust the Yankees to find the undiscovered gems. The monster teams growing in San Diego, Chicago (White Sox), and Toronto concern me but the Yankees are a resilient organization with an eye for talent. There are more Gio Urshela’s to be found…the Yankees just need to move quicker before an intelligent team like the Rays can snatch them up.

As for the 2020 playoffs, it sickens me to think the Houston Astros are a series away from the World Series. I hate the Tampa Bay Rays so the ALCS is truly about the lesser of two evils. I’d rather see the Rays (ugh) advance than the pathetic Astros. The Los Angeles Dodgers are my favorite NL team so the decision of which team to support is easy. So, win or lose, this is the order of teams I’d support for winning this year’s World Series:

1.       Los Angeles Dodgers

2.       Atlanta Braves

3.       Tampa Bay Rays

4.       Houston Cheaters

The NLCS should be a classic. The Dodgers have a great team but so do the Braves. I think this is the National League’s year to win the World Series so in my opinion, the winner of the Dodgers/Braves series will be the World Series champion. As long as the season ends with no celebrations by the Rays or Astros, I will be happy.    

Before I go, I’d like to say a final farewell to the great Edward Charles “Whitey” Ford.  The Chairman of the Board, one of the all-time greatest Yankee Legends, passed away on October 8th at age 91. He suffered from the effects of Alzheimer’s disease in recent years. He was apparently at his Lake Success, NY home watching the Yankees play when he died. No jokes. This is a sad time for the Yankees. I recall my feelings of disappointment when the 2019 Old Timer’s Day at Yankee Stadium did not include Ford. I had feared we were nearing the end of the road for the ten-time All-Star and six-time World Series champion. I never got to see Ford pitch but as a Yankees fan, his historic accomplishments are why the Yankees are such a wonderful collection of Legends who stand above all other teams. Rest in Peace, Whitey. We thank you and we will miss you…

Photo Credit: Ray Stubblebine, REUTERS

As always, Go Yankees! 

The Battle of Petco Park…

New York and Tampa Bay take the war to San Diego…

Yankees-Rays. I suppose this was inevitable when the Rays used their season series against the Yankees to provide the necessary separation to win the AL East. By taking 8 of 10 games, the Rays cruised to the division title by seven games over the Yankees. What does it mean? Absolutely nothing. Let the Rays celebrate the end of the Yankees’ one-year run as division champions following Boston’s reign of superiority. In the end, I’d rather have a team that is ready and prepared to play post-season baseball. I am not saying the Rays are not prepared, but I feel team-to-team, the Yankees are better. Wins against the Rays may have been difficult in the regular season but this no longer the regular season. Win or lose, I will take the Yankees over the Rays anytime, anywhere.

Speaking of anywhere, it will be weird to watch the ALDS played at Petco Park in San Diego, CA. A beautiful park, without question. I’ve been there a few times and have always enjoyed the look and ambiance of the park. A nice cool ocean breeze makes for a nice setting to play baseball. It’s not quite San Francisco, for me anyway, but an awesome stadium in its own right. Day and night in comparison to Tropicana Field in St Petersburg, FL, the warehouse the Rays call home. I like the idea of the Yankees and Rays playing their series on neutral ground. Sure, I’d love to see playoff baseball in Yankee Stadium but it’s not going to happen this year so it will be fun to watch the games next week in sunny Southern CA. At the end of the day, I’d much rather win the AL Division Series than the AL East title, even if the games had to be played in Tokyo, Japan. 


Photo Credit: Bryan Hoch, MLB.com

Giancarlo Stanton said it best, “They won the division, so they’ve got that. The full bragging rights chance is here. Shirts and hats, that doesn’t mean anything”.

In winning the AL Wild Card series with the Cleveland Indians, the Yankees impressed me with their ‘never-say-die’ attitude. I wish the team’s pitching had not put the Yankees in the position of requiring a rally to advance, but they did, and the hitters delivered. I had felt more confident and comfortable with Aaron Boone as Yankees manager in his second year than the first but, in my opinion, he regressed in this third season. When Zack Britton walked two in the crucial Game 2 of the Indian series, I didn’t like the decision to pull Britton in favor of Jonathan Loaisiga. I know, it’s easy to be a Monday morning quarterback but I didn’t like the move while it was happening. Britton, who had arguably one of the greatest relief seasons ever in 2016 with the Baltimore Orioles, remains a very trusted veteran. Despite the walks, Britton has proven time and again that he is a ‘bend but not break’ type of pitcher. For as talented as Loaisiga is or could be, he is not better than Britton in that spot. Loaisiga promptly gave up two runs which allowed the Indians to tie the score. Maybe Britton would have given up the same runs (or more), maybe not. I just know that Britton would have been my choice to finish the inning. Loaisiga’s appearance did prove one thing, there is zero confidence in Adam Ottavino right now. Bummer, I had really hoped Otto would get his act together before the playoffs to be the dominant reliever we know he can be. I want to see his wicked stuff tantalizing hitters rather than a reliever with control problems.

I am not sure the first year of pitching coach Matt Blake has been much of an improvement over the long tenure of Larry Rothschild. Rothschild was the coach the fans loved to hate, but he is the pitching coach for a team that blanked the St Louis Cardinals last night to push the San Diego Padres into a NLDS battle against their NL West rival Los Angeles Dodgers. Rothschild’s team is dangerous, loaded with good, young pitching, and ultra-talented players to back the pitching which starts with the incredible Fernando Tatis, Jr (sorry Manny).  I am sure Larry is not crying about his ejection from the Yankees at this point. The question is whether or not Blake has been better. At the moment, I’d have to say “inconclusive; results pending”. Gerrit Cole was going to be good regardless of the coach. It’s how the other pitchers perform and if there is a weakness for the Yanks heading into the ALDS, it is the starting pitching behind Cole.  If the Indians had managed to win AL Wild Card series Game 2 to push the series to a third and final game, the starting pitcher would have been J.A. Happ or Jordan Montgomery. I love Gumby but I am sorry, he doesn’t inspire great confidence and regardless of the few good games Happ has had lately, he is still, in my mind, a mediocre starting pitcher at best. I so wish the Yankees had either James Paxton or Luis Severino for the Rays series. But it is not to be, so hopefully Blake can earn his stripes by coaxing superior performances out of everybody not named Gerrit Cole.  We already know Cole will deliver. 

Photo Credit: The New York Post

The Rays feature a formidable front three with Blake Snell, Tyler Glasnow, and Charlie Morton. As great as Gerrit Cole is or as dominant as Masahiro Tanaka has been in October (excluding the Indians series), the Rays’ rotation is better. Nonetheless, the Yankees showed putting the likely 2020 AL Cy Young Award winner Shane Bieber on the mound meant nothing when the Yankees cruised to the ALDS Game 1 win over the Indians, scoring seven runs against the young ace. Kevin Kiermaier can talk as tough as he wants to, the Yankees’ offense is simply better. The Yankees are certainly not afraid of the Rays and I think the talent will be the great separator in this series. The Yankees have momentum, they’re hungry and they know what is at stake. ‘Never say die’ will continue to resonate with this team. 

My prediction: The Yankees in five games. 

I think my biggest disappointment in the playoffs so far is that the Minnesota Twins did not give the Houston Astros a greater challenge. The Twins proved their inability to win in October is not isolated to when they are playing the Yankees. Minnesota’s thunderous bats were a concern if they had advanced to the next round but I would have preferred to see them in the ALDS over the lying, cheating Houston Astros. I am hopeful the AL West champion Oakland A’s can send the losers home early. The ALCS is too far ahead to think about, we need to worry about the ALDS and nothing more. The sooner the Astros pull off their jerseys for the final time this season, the better, regardless of who kicks their asses out the door. 

In the NL, the biggest surprise, despite the incredible play of Tatis Jr and the Padres, is the Derek Jeter, Don Mattingly led Miami Marlins. The Marlins beat the Chicago Cubs in the NL Wild Card Series and will play the Atlanta Braves this week. I do not expect the Marlins to beat the Braves, but it is a great testament to Jeter and company that they tore the Marlins down and now have them playing competitive baseball again in just a few years. It feels like they are ahead of schedule.

I’ve always admired Don Mattingly so I am glad he is at the helm as the team’s skipper for the resurgence. He has certainly paid his dues. I am sure it was very hard for him to watch superstars like Giancarlo Stanton, Marcell Ozuna, and Christian Yelich depart after the Jeter-led ownership group took over but he has persevered and is now reaping the rewards of success. I enjoyed Mattingly’s time as manager of the Los Angeles Dodgers and was not ready to see him depart when Dodgers ownership let him go. I think Mattingly’s presence on the Dodgers solidified them as my favorite NL team and second favorite overall (I also happen to live in the LA area even if I am closer to Angels Stadium these days). I remain a Dodgers fan and think Dave Roberts has done a fine job as manager (some may disagree) but I will always wonder if Mattingly could have won a championship in LA if he had been given more time. Not that I want to see the Marlins win the World Series, but I admit I would quietly be thrilled to see Mattingly celebrating a championship. 

Photo Credit: Getty Images

Here are my predictions for the AL/NL division series:

Yankees over Rays in five games.

Athletics over Astros in four games.

Dodgers over Padres in five games.

Braves over Marlins in three games.

If the Rays do overcome the Yankees (sorry, it is a possibility regardless of how much we love the Bronx Bombers), I wonder if the Yankees would consider parting ways with Aaron Boone. I didn’t think it was possible before the season and while I don’t think this weird, tragic pandemic year should be held against anyone, Boone’s regressions are troubling. I am not sure who is a better choice out there. I am not advocating change. I like Boone and I’d certainly be happy to see him return for the 2021 season. I only raise it as a possibility if the team is unable to advance. 

I think Dave Roberts might be in the same boat. If the Dodgers underperform again, it’s going to look unfavorably upon their manager given the plethora of talent on his teams in recent years. The Padres are showing the end of the Dodgers’ dominance in the NL West is coming. This may be the best opportunity the Dodgers have to win a championship in the foreseeable future. 

A’s manager Bob Melvin continues to show why Brian Cashman wanted him as the team’s manager to replace Joe Girardi. The A’s weren’t cooperative and Melvin was never an option, but he is perhaps the best manager left in the playoffs. 

Hal Steinbrenner, this is your weekly plea to please re-sign DJ LeMahieu.

As always, Go Yankees!

The End of the Wrong Season…

Photo Credit: Associated Press

Yankees stumble to the Finish Line…

Well, there is one more game to go, but this is my final regular season post. I’ll be back for the play-offs but no plans for a season recap after tomorrow’s game.

Suffice it to say I’ve been disappointed with the uneven play of the Yankees this shortened season and the errors lately have been atrocious but there are a few bright spots. I am grateful, incredibly thankful, Gerrit Cole is a New York Yankee even if we couldn’t deliver him a division championship. For his part, he tried. The middle linebacker at first base, Luke Voit, has been a shining star for much of the season. And D.J. LeMahieu just continues to do what he does best, playing pretty damn good baseball with both bat and glove.

I wish we could say this is Aaron Judge’s team. I know, it is when he is healthy (which he is right now) but, unfortunately, we didn’t get to see much of that this year.

When I say ‘Wrong Season’, I am not really implying what I think about the Yankees’ chances this year. Then again, maybe I am. My intent is mainly based on the fact it has just been a messed up year with the Pandemic, the unnecessary loss of lives, total disruption of sports as we know it, empty stadiums, ballparks and arenas while games are played, the trials and tribulations of the Presidential election coming up in November (regardless of who you are voting for), and so much more about what went wrong this year. I am not a political person and I am certainly not going to make a political stand here but suffice it to say that I’ll be glad when 2020 is in the rearview mirror. 

As the Yankees continue to hang onto the fifth spot in the AL seeding order (by the narrow margin of the pinstripes on their jerseys). Maybe the Toronto Blue Jays, who are currently 1 ½ games behind the Yankees pending the outcome of their game tonight with Baltimore Orioles, will lose to make Sunday meaningless for the Yankees. But if the Jays beat the O’s tonight and tomorrow and the Yankees drop the season finale against the Miami Marlins, the Yankees fall all the way to eighth in the seeding order. It’s really hard for me to get excited about a team that can’t seem to win when it matters most. I have to admit that when the Marlins broke out to an unlikely 3-0 lead today, it felt like ‘here we go again’. Fortunately, the bats came to play and the Yankees took what turned out to be a cakewalk in the 11-4 victory. 

As crazy and pathetic as this year has been, it seems like a year an improbable team will emerge victorious. It could be the Tampa Bay Rays, well experienced with playing in empty stadiums long before the Pandemic, the Oakland A’s who have always fielded good but not great teams with a limited budget, the pesky Minnesota Twins and their thunderous bats, the Cleveland Indians and their pitching factory, and the Chicago White Sox, the up and comers, all seem to have a better chance than the Yankees in my mind. People like to laugh at the Twins and how the Yankees have owned them over the years. True, but I believe in the law of averages and inevitably the tide will turn. I don’t want it to happen this year, but that’s out of our control. The only team that can control it is the Yankees and of course the Twins.

Maybe everything changes when the playoffs start. The Yankees dominate every opponent. The starters hold the opponents to a run or two, and the bullpen slams the door game after game. The hitters spray the balls all over the playing field, with many going yard.  Everyone fields like they are Gio Urshela or D.J. LeMahieu. And Aaron Boones consistently makes the calls that no one can second guess. But then again, maybe not.

Depending upon the game tomorrow, the Yankees will either finish with 34-26 record or 33-27. If they hold onto the fifth spot, it is looking like they’ll be playing the Chicago White Sox or the Cleveland Indians. If they fall to eighth, there’s a date with the AL East Champion Tampa Bay Rays who didn’t really have any difficulty beating the Yankees this year. From my perspective, I don’t really care who the Yankees draw. To be the best, you have to beat the best. Very simple formula. I don’t believe in free hand-outs. 

Going back to the players, D.J. LeMahieu leads Major League batters with .359 batting average. His closest AL competitor is Tim Anderson of the Chicago White Sox at .337. This should give The Machine the AL batting title to go with the one he won in the National League a few years ago. If the Yankees do anything this off-season, they need to bring LeMahieu back. I hope they do more, but that’s certainly at the top of the list for me. Masahiro Tanaka is a very close second. I lived in Denver during LeMahieu’s final season with the Colorado Rockies. I was amazed they were going to let one of their best players walk. I know they were saving their pennies to sign Nolan Arenado to an extension, but D.J. is a guy his Rockies teammates and fans alike loved. I get keeping Arenado but they should have kept D.J. too. Glad they didn’t, of course, but at the time, it seemed foolish they didn’t try. 

Luke Voit is the only Major League hitter with at least 20 home runs (22). He enters the final day of the season with a three-homer lead on Jose Abreu of the White Sox and, surprisingly, five more than the great Mike Trout. Abreu has the edge with RBI’s at 57 while Voit stands at 52 (with a couple of Braves hitters, Marcell Ozuna and Freddie Freeman, in between them). I like Voit but I honestly didn’t think he’d be one of the best players on the team. It wasn’t that long ago everyone had great debate about whether the first baseman should be Voit or Greg Bird.  With no disrespect to Bird who is currently quarantined with the coronavirus, I am so glad the Yankees didn’t bet the farm on Bird’s health and success. I will always love Bird’s swing but I like knowing Luke Voit, and not Bird, is the first baseman for the New York Yankees. Maybe Bird can eventually find some healthy success with his current team, the Philadelphia Phillies. I am not rooting against him, I just think it’s an uphill battle for him and his hairless cat. 

Sunday’s game against the Miami Marlins will also be noteworthy for another reason, aside from the potential playoff seeding implications depending upon what the Blue Jays do tonight. Top Yankees pitching prospect Clarke Schmidt will make his first Major League start. The first of many, I hope. Every great success story has a beginning and although Schmidt has sampled Major League hitters through bullpen eyes, he has a huge opportunity as a starting pitcher for the Yankees as soon as 2021. We know James Paxton is gone, we might lose Masahiro Tanaka, and hopefully J.A. Happ finds his way to the exit, so there will be plenty of room in the rotation, even if the Yankees grab someone like Trevor Bauer out of the free agent pool.  

Photo Credit: Charles Wenzelberg, The New York Post

I can’t say I was surprised Giancarlo Stanton will not be exercising his opt-out in the off-season. There is no way that he could have commanded a seven-year, $218 million deal (the money he is still owed on his existing contract). I know how agonizing those last few years of Jacoby Ellsbury were and he was never the player Stanton was. If Stanton has a continued downward decline, it’s going to hurt more than Ellsbury ever did until it reaches the price point the Yankees bite the bullet and cut him free. I keep hoping we’ll see 2017 NL MVP Stanton show up at some point. I remember that year. Stanton was blasting ‘em out of parks on almost a daily basis or so it seemed. When I was (much) younger, I always loved the way Dave Winfield would get hot and carry the team on his back. Stanton certainly has that ability. I am not talking about Winfield’s post-season history with the Yankees. He had to go to Toronto to win a ring, but when he went on one of those regular season tears, it throttled the team into better performance. 

A hat tip to Daniel Burch, the owner of the Greedy Pinstripes blog. He said that Gary Sanchez would not catch another game for Gerrit Cole a few weeks back and took much heat for making the statement. In the end, his take on Sanchez stood the test of time. If the Yankees want to dump Sanchez in the off-season to go after J.T. Realmuto, have at it. I have wanted Gary to be great for so long and we’ve seen it in brief flashes, but I am tired. I am ready for greater consistency and a backstop who draws raves from baseball’s highest paid starting pitcher. 

I am not sure what 2021 will bring for the Yankees. No doubt the lost revenue will impact the game for years to come. I can’t imagine the Yankees maintaining their current salary level. There will be cuts, for sure. For now, it’s best to have near-sightedness and cheer on the Yankees for post-season success from the confines of our living rooms. Despite my pessimistic attitude, the Yankees are a good team and they have the players and pitching to be successful. The new season, the post-season, is nearly upon us. Time to saddle up for the ride. Let’s win this damn thing.

As always, Go Yankees!

Nine is Fine but Ten is Better…

Photo Credit: AP

Yankees rally for ninth-straight win…

It was frustrating a few weeks ago when the Yankees were losing games they should have won, but it’s great to be back in the saddle again with the team winning the games it should have lost.

Last night, for example. Jordan Montgomery, in his best impersonation of typical J.A. Happ, gave up a three-run fourth inning home run to journeyman infielder Christian Arroyo which put the Yanks in a 3-0 hole. With Martin Perez somehow pitching like Pedro Martinez in his prime (WTF?) it did not look good for the Yankees. Picking up another run in the fifth on a sac fly by Christian Vazquez, the Red Sox took a 4-0 lead into the seventh inning.

At this point, I was not overly optimistic despite knowing Boston’s bullpen is talent-deprived. The Yankees, fielding its strongest starting lineup in a very long time, could not muster any offense against the AL East cellar dwellers. Thankfully, it was Boston the Yankees were playing against and not a top AL challenger. A couple runs here, a run there, and it was a one-run game. I think the at-bat that bothered me the most was when Gleyber Torres struck out to end the top of the eighth inning with Mike Tauchman at second base, pinch running for Giancarlo Stanton. It was a weak, pathetic at-bat and it left the Yankees down by a run.  Thankfully, Gary Sanchez, who has taken a quite bit of heat in recent days, tied the score in the top of the ninth with his two-out solo shot to left over the Green Monster.

Still, it felt like an uphill battle for the Yankees. After taking a brief lead in the top of the 11th inning when Luke Voit singled to score the extra inning runner at second base (Tauchman), the Red Sox came right back in the bottom of the frame when Christian Arroyo laced a single to center to score their designated second base runner (Michael Chavis). It looked like Boston was going to be able to celebrate a walk-off win when they loaded the bases against Jonathan Loaisiga and only one out. Fortunately, Loaisiga came up big by striking out J.D. Martinez and inducing Christian Vazquez to fly out. 

The Yankees were finally able to score the winning run in the 12th.  Gio Urshela (glad you are back, buddy!) reached on an infield single, which moved the designated second base runner (Aaron Hicks) to third. Two strikeouts and it kind of felt like it was going to be a ‘nothing for something’ situation. Step up, LeMachine. D.J. LeMahieu, having an O-fer night, drilled a double to right to score Hicks. Yanks up, 6-5. Hal, please re-sign this man.

Loaisiga was back out for the bottom of the 12th to close it out. Although the Sox were able to move the second base runner to third with only one out, the little guy came up big by recording outs against the three batters he faced. Game over, Yanks win.

I did like putting Loaisiga in this spot. He was able to face adversity and survive. He persevered and picked up his third win of the year against no losses. The growth of a pitcher. I love it. We’ll need Loaisiga in October, especially since Adam Ottavino continues to struggle. I want to see less Luis Cessa and more Loaisiga.

The change in attitude with the Yankees since they ended their recent slump was evident in LeMahieu’s words after the game. “We were down in a hole today and we had absolute confidence we were going to find a way back in the game.”  LeMahieu went on to add, “A couple of weeks ago, 4-0 felt like 20-0. Tonight, 4-0 felt within reach.” Winning spirit and confidence. Welcome back! It couldn’t happen at a better time.

The win kept the Yankees’ winning streak intact at 9 games. They are only a game away from the 10-game winning streaks I thoroughly enjoy. Unfortunately, the Tampa Bay Rays won Friday night so the Yankees (30-21) were unable to pick up any ground on the Rays. They remain 3 ½ games behind with only nine games to play. But Joe Girardi and the Phillies beat the Toronto Blue Jays by a run so it pushed the Blue Jays a full four games behind the Yankees so at least second place in the AL East feels fairly secure even if there are more games against Toronto this upcoming week.

At some point this week, Aaron Boone will concede first to the Rays and will begin resting key players in preparation for October. I just can’t see the Yankees pull out all stops to try to catch Tampa at the risk of injury and fatigue for the playoffs. 

Photo Credit: Paul J Bereswill, NY Post

The playoff format with AL games in sunny Southern California is going to be weird. Yankees playing post-season games in nearby stadiums (Petco Park in San Diego and/or Dodger Stadium in Los Angeles) and, despite living within driving distance, I cannot attend the games. Nevertheless, it will be fun to watch the Yankees out here even if it is on TV. Equally strange the Los Angeles Dodgers will not be able to play any playoff games at home since the National League (and the World Series, if they make it that far) will be held in the bubble of the new Globe Life Park in Arlington, Texas.  The Dallas/Fort Worth Dodgers, I guess.

I thought it was funny to see the Phillies acquire another former Yankee. Greg Bird, recently handed his walking papers by the Texas Rangers, signed with Philadelphia and is re-united with his former manager and a couple of teammates. One former Yank, Ronald Torreyes, had been designated for assignment earlier but he cleared waivers and was sent outright to Philadelphia’s alternate training site. Not that I am really paying much attention to what the Phillies do. I do wish Bird the best but I am obviously very happy the Yankees have Luke Voit and not Greg Bird (or Mike Ford) at first base. For now, Bird will be working out with Toe at the alternate training site as he tries to get another opportunity to find health and get back on a Major League field.

I am glad Steve Cohen was successful in his bid to buy the New York Mets. Not that I really want to see a billionaire who has some common sense buy the crosstown rivals, but with no disrespect to Alex Rodriguez or the lovely Jennifer Lopez, I didn’t really want to see the former Yankee as the owner of the Mets. Despite his incredible success as a Yankees legend and Hall of Famer, it is hard for me to look at Derek Jeter the same when he is an owner and managing executive of another team. I haven’t exactly been a huge A-Rod fan in my life but if he wants to buy a Major League team, I prefer a team that is irrelevant in the Yankees Universe (kind of like Jeter and Miami Marlins). Irrelevant only in the fact they rarely play against each other and the only meaningful games against one another would be in a World Series in which case it would be great for both teams to make it that far.

It is good to know the Wilpon family will finally be exiting Major League Baseball. A little scary that the dysfunctional Mets will have better leadership (kind of wonder how this plays out for the agent trying to masquerade as a GM). Early rumors the Mets could go after Brian Cashman to run baseball operations. Now THAT I’d really hate to see. However, with Cohen’s money, he is a threat and he could put together a strong package of compensation and control that could entice Cashman to make the move. No doubt that Cohen will want to recapture the hearts of New York for his Mets. I’d like to think he will be unsuccessful but he didn’t become a billionaire by accident. He will be better for the Mets than the Wilpons, whether we like it or not.

There seems to be a few articles lately about Brett Gardner’s desire to return for another season. I feel bad because even though I’ve loved Gardy’s time as a Yankee, I do believe it is time to move on. Mike Tauchman may not be the answer but I do feel Clint Frazier has earned the right to take left field. Even with the risk of injuries, Gardy is just not a full-time player anymore. He is better to be used in spots. His option for next season is too much. If the Yankees can decline the option and perhaps re-sign Gardy for less money, maybe I’d be in favor of re-signing him. However, I don’t really want to see him off the bench very much. Sorry, Gardy. I hate saying that, but age sucks. You are not the player you were as recently as 2019. There is not going to be a huge resurgence for a 37-year-old outfielder who turns 38 next August.  I hope Gardy becomes more of a coach-in-waiting.  I think he has a lot to offer in his post-playing career (if he decides to stay in the game) and I think it’s time for the transition. Sorry to those who love Gardy but it’s just my feelings. Loyalty is great, but ultimately, you want the best players on the field regardless of past performance.

Photo Credit: AP

As always, Go Yankees!

Air of Optimism…

Photo Credit: Robert Sabo, via The New York Post

A week later, life in the Yankees Universe is much better…

I was not going to write a post this week (my day job has been running overtime lately) but I couldn’t leave the top post on the site sitting at “Preparing the White Towel”. Yes, I was extremely frustrated with the Yankees last weekend if you could not tell. Funny how a nice five-game winning streak can change one’s perspective. Alright, the latest victim is the Baltimore Orioles but regardless, a win is a win and five in a row is trending in the right direction. After watching their record fall to 21-21, the Yankees are now 26-21. 

While I am not overly optimistic about the team’s chances in October, I am glad they’ve rediscovered the winning formula. Nothing like a sweep of the Baltimore Orioles, who, surprisingly after last weekend, were within arm’s reach of your favorite team. A week later, the O’s are nothing but a small speck in the rearview mirror. 

I like to win…I don’t like to lose…not sure which one I feel more strongly about. I guess I’ll just go with loss-avoidance. That is why the series of losses really had me feeling down. I know, trust the process…have faith in the Yankees, they are an excellent team…I get it. Unfortunately, this is a season like no other and it’s so friggin’ short. Any small bump in the road is a major upheaval of epic proportions.  I might be exaggerating slightly (maybe?) but it’s frustrating to see teams like the Oakland A’s, Chicago White Sox, Tampa Bay Rays and Minnesota Twins seemingly on cruise control.  The only solace I had leading up to this weekend is the fact the Yankees are better than the Boston Red Sox and the sorry-assed cheaters out of Houston. 

When this season started, I sure did not think I’d be grateful for Clint Frazier and Luke Voit. I’ve never been down on Voit but I also never saw him as one of the team’s best players. Congrats to him. He is everything that we once thought Greg Bird would be or at least could be and more. Voit currently leads the Yanks with 16 homers and 37 RBIs.  A testament to his durability this season, he leads the team with 159 at-bats. DJ LeMahieu is 19 AB’s behind Voit, after missing some time while on the Injured List earlier this season. Nice job today by LeMahieu today, by the way. He’s never been a flashy player, but he is the guy you want in the thick of battle. His defensive plays never cease to amaze me.  The only amazement is why haven’t the Yankees signed LeMachine to an extension yet. This needs to be a high priority in a couple of months. I really hope the Yankees do not let LeMahieu hit the open market. I think the Yankees hold the edge if all offers are similar but why take the chance? He’s earned his money for a few more years at Yankee Stadium. Back to Voit, thanks Luke, I am glad you were able to quiet your detractors. I couldn’t believe how many wanted Mike Ford as the starting first baseman. Sorry, my mind never went there. Ford is not much more than a career backup. Voit is proving why he comes from a state that bills themselves as the “Show Me State”. He’s showing us he is a very good player.

Clint Frazier is the one I owe an apology to. I am sorry, Clint. 

I’ve always thought he was talented and maybe that’s why I was so frustrated with his performance the last couple of years. I’ve also said if the Yankees don’t play him, they should trade him. Now, after the way he’s played, you can’t trade him AND he has to play. Sorry Brett Gardner, it was a good run. You’ve been an excellent company man over the years, but age happens. Your days as a regular are over. Stick around and join the coaching staff when the shitshow we call 2020 is over. But it is time to let the younger guys play. I am glad Clint took advantage of this opportunity. It would have been a shame if the Yankees had traded him, only for us to watch this player blossom from afar. In 93 at-bats, Frazier is batting .280/.387/.516 with .904 OPS. He has 5 dingers and 19 runs batted in. While it pains me to say, I have far more trust in Clint right now than Giancarlo Stanton if for no other reason than the latter can never stay healthy. Stanton, if he comes back, should be the permanent DH. But then again, who knows if or when that will be. Seems like this will be life with Stanton for the duration of his Yankees career.

No, I am not giving Aaron Judge a free pass on this one. He is as unreliable (from a health standpoint) as Stanton. Going forward, I only want outfielders who are 6’5’ or less. LOL! I am not serious about that one, but I do wish Judge and Stanton had greater reliability for staying on the active roster.

With thirteen games left in the season, the Yankees are 4 games behind the Tampa Bay Rays. It’s probably a pipe dream to think they can make up the ground although it is far from impossible. It kind of makes you wonder where the Yankees would have been if they had not fallen into an extended slump. The Yankees are currently the seventh best team in the AL (out of eight possible playoff participants). At this point, every one of top eight teams should make the playoffs. The best team from the outside looking in is the Seattle Mariners at 20-25. They lead the Arizona Diamondbacks today and should pick up their 21st win but they aren’t catching the Houston Astros (23-23) despite how much I would love for it to happen. The Toronto Blue Jays were able to hold onto second place in the AL East today with their win over the Mets. The Yankees will soon get their chance to make a statement to the Blue Jays like they just did with the Orioles. The two teams play against each other in seven of the next ten games. After an off day tomorrow, the Blue Jays are in the Bronx for three games. A quick weekend trip to Boston, and then the Yankees will make a return trip to the Queen City of Buffalo next week for four games. Now is the time to play like a playoff contender. Keep the momentum rolling. Hard to believe that the regular season comes to an end just two weeks from today. This is a great time to get hot!

Photo Credit: Paul J Bereswill, via The New York Post

I really hope Adam Ottavino rediscovers himself before October gets here. It’s a sad day when he has to be bailed out by Jonathan Holder. After taking over for J.A. Happ in the top of the sixth inning this afternoon, he did fine with the first two batters, getting Jose Iglesias to fly out and punching out Ryan Mountcastle. But then, as it has lately, things unraveled. Otto walked Pedro Severino (I hate hearing the name “Severino” and not having it attached to the Yankees although I have no interest in Pedro). A single by Renato Nunez caused Aaron Boone to pull the plug on the native New Yorker and bring in Holder who mercifully ended the threat. I’d much prefer getting back to scenarios where Ottavino is bailing others out.  Ottavino remains one of my favorite players on this team and I’d really like to see him have success in some upcoming games to get back on track before the real games begin. 

Congratulations to Albert Pujols and Alec Mills for their impressive days today. Albert, the one-time St Louis Cardinal great and now long-time Los Angeles Angel hit a historic home run at Coors Field in Denver against the Rockies. It was the 660th home run of his Hall of Fame-bound career, tying him for fifth place on the All-Time list with the Say Hey Kid, Willie Mays. Nice company, very nice indeed. The next milestone will be in 36 home runs if Albert can get there. If so, he’ll tie Alex Rodriguez at 696.

Photo Credit: David Zalubowski, AP

Then there’s Alec Mills. Who the heck is that? The Chicago Cubs right-hander just completed the second no-no of the season by getting former Yankees legend Jace Peterson to ground out, completing the day of no hits for the disappointing Milwaukee Brewers. Mills is only in the Cubs rotation because Jose Quintana is on the IL. Good way to make an impression on your coaches and teammates. Lucas Giolito of the White Sox has the only other no-hitter this season (against the Pirates in mid-August). There seems to be Chicago theme here.

I don’t care if J.A. Happ is pitching better lately. I want no part of him on the 2021 Yankees roster. Sorry, but not a fan. Deivi Garcia, on the other hand, keep it coming. This kid seems to grow with each performance, and I’ve liked his mound presence from the start.

I am glad baseball is fun again. The difference between winning and losing. Much better to win games you should…or shouldn’t…than to lose games you should win. If the Yankees can win at least four of the upcoming games against the Blue Jays, I will be feeling much better about the upcoming post-season regardless of where the teams end up in the AL East. Taking 2 of 3, followed by 3 of 4, would work even better. Time to show the Jays it is not their time…yet.

As always, Go Yankees!

Preparing the White Towel…

Photo Credit: AP

Yankees continue to sputter…

I wish I felt good about the 2020 New York Yankees, but unfortunately, I am not feeling it right now. I know every season has its bumps in the road, yet this is the one season, with only a 60-game schedule, a team could ill afford an extended slump.

With just 20 regular season games, the Yankees find themselves in third place in the AL East, a game behind the Toronto Blue Jays and 6 ½ games behind the division leading Tampa Bay Rays. Forget about an AL East championship this year, the Yankees will not catch the Rays. The Blue Jays, a young talented team, were aggressive at the trading deadline, unlike the Yankees. The final week of August saw the Jays bolster their pitching staff with long-rumored Yankee targets Taijuan Walker (Mariners) and Robbie Ray (Diamondbacks), plus Ross Stripling (Dodgers). They also acquired infielder Jonathan Villar from the Marlins, a player the Yankees could have certainly used about now. 

The Yankees and Blue Jays play a total of 10 games this month which represents half of the remaining schedule. These games, with 7 to be played in Buffalo, NY, will determine the fate of the Yankees. So far, unless you are the Boston Red Sox, AL East teams have fared very well against the Yankees this year. If the Blue Jays hold the same type of mastery the Rays…and surprisingly the Orioles…have over all things Pinstriped, it does not bode well for our favorite team.  Historically, the Yankees have not matched up well against the Jays, a team that has only gotten better. 

The Yankees should still make the playoffs, barring a total collapse, but at this point, they’ll be limping in and it feels like it will be an early exit. Perhaps the team can get hot in the next couple of weeks. The playoffs are generally about who is playing the best baseball at season’s end and not who is going through an early September slump. Unfortunately for the Yankees, it’s the combination of a slump and key injuries (Injured List includes Aaron Judge, Giancarlo Stanton, Gio Urshela, James Paxton and Jonathan Loaisiga). The bullpen has not been able to replace Tommy Kahnle, who was lost for the season with Tommy John surgery. I thought it was a good time for others to step up, but aside from a few isolated strong performances, the bullpen has not been the same without Kahnle. I thought the trading deadline would bring in much needed reinforcements but after determining the prices to be too high, the Yankees passed.

Photo Credit: Charles Wenzelberg, The New York Post

We could debate all day long whether GM Brian Cashman was right or wrong. Personally, for as much as I wanted some strong reinforcements to infuse the pennant chase and bring more energy into the clubhouse, I don’t blame Cashman for saying no when it comes to the team’s very best prospects. If I felt a trade would have been the difference maker in winning the World Series, then the Yankees failed to make the right moves. Unfortunately, as it looks right now, I am not sure what potential trade could have been the difference maker for the Yankees. It’s not like the Mets were going to trade Jacob deGrom, particularly not to the Yankees even if they were. 

TGP’s Bryan Van Dusen (@Bryan_TGP) had a good tweet yesterday: “Last year was fun (except for the end, of course), but if anyone really thought the #Yankees could survive another #NextManUp season they’re delusional.” I agree with Bryan’s assessment.

Fans on social media (not Bryan) are calling for the heads of GM Brian Cashman and Manager Aaron Boone. I seriously doubt either man loses his job this year. This has been a very odd year with the pandemic…nothing has been normal. I fully expect Cashman and Boone to get the chance to make a run at another 162-game season before we encounter any potential changes. Honestly, I feel Cashman has a job with owner Hal Steinbrenner for as long as he wants it. For as much as George Steinbrenner embraced change, Hal seems reluctant.  Is he wrong? I don’t know. It’s his money. If he is getting the return he seeks (monetary; not championships), perhaps he is happy.  His team. His right. I know that’s tough to hear for fans who want desperately to win. As each year passes, Cashman becomes one of the fewer links to the George Steinbrenner era.  Meanwhile, Hal’s bank account continues to grow. Why tip the apple cart?…

I wish I knew the answers for how the Yankees can change their present course. There are just some seasons you just scratch your head and move on. I am not going to get worked up about a lack of October success this year. A strange season and one I hope we never encounter again in our lifetimes. I look forward to baseball played in front of hungry, excited fans…not a bunch of empty seats and cardboard cut-outs.  

I’ll throw in my usual caveat: I hope…very strongly…the Yankees prove me wrong.

There was a time I would have really been excited about the Major League debut of Yankees outfield prospect Estevan Florial. But after a few underwhelming minor league seasons that dropped his standing among Yankee prospects, his promotion to the active roster seems like an afterthought. The Yankees called him up from the alternate training site yesterday (sending down RHP Miguel Yajure in the corresponding move). The promotion was hardly met with great applause. Maybe he can help. I’d like to see him finally achieve the success he once seemed so destined for, but to expect him to solve his deficiencies at this level seems to be a stretch.

The start of the NFL season could not come at a better time. I think I am ready for the distraction of football over baseball (it pains me to write that as a die-hard baseball fan). Not sure how I feel about my favorite team, the Minnesota Vikings, this year. They took some heavy losses in free agency last off-season, and despite better play last year, I retain some doubt Kirk Cousins is the guy who can lead the team to the promised land. I was a little surprised when the Vikings only kept one quarterback (Sean Mannion) behind Cousins, cutting young QB’s Jake Browning and Nate Stanley. Both of those players landed on the team’s practice squad after the cuts. As a lifelong fan of the University of Iowa Hawkeyes, Stanley, a former Hawkeye QB, remains a personal favorite. He may not have elite potential but I hope he carves out a nice career.

I did not expect the Washington Redskins, excuse me, the Washington Football Team to release former Vikings RB Adrian Peterson, given what seems to be a dearth of quality (or maybe just healthy) running backs in the Nation’s Capital. I was probably more disappointed when I saw Peterson sign with the NFC North rival Detroit Lions. I suppose it could have been worse. He could have signed with the Packers or Bears, but just like in baseball where I hate to see former Yankees go to Boston, I didn’t really want to see Peterson with a division rival.  I am not sure how much he has left, but he certainly has become a journeyman in recent years as he moves from team to team. I used to equate it to Emmitt Smith, the Dallas Cowboys legend, playing for the Arizona Cardinals late in his career, but Peterson has become much more of a gypsy than Smith ever was. 

A final note to bid farewell to Hall of Famer Lou Brock. Growing up in the Midwest, Brock’s role as an all-time great with the St Louis Cardinals was common knowledge. I was probably aware of Brock before almost any other player. During his 19-year career, Brock amassed 938 stolen bases, the most in National League history and topped only by former A’s/Yankees great Rickey Henderson for the Major League record. The first Major League baseball game I attended as a kid featured Brock in the lineup, a season (1974) in which he stole 118 bases. Brock, 81, passed on Sunday afternoon after poor health in recent years. The best quote about Brock might have been from his former manager, the late Red Schoendienst, who said, “Toughest SOB I’ve ever seen”. Like Gleyber Torres, Brock was a young Chicago Cubs prospect plucked away from the Cubbies by trade. Thanks for the memories, Lou! We appreciated you then and we honor you now. Forever in our hearts. Rest in Peace.

Photo Credit: Bill Greenblatt, UPI

As always, Go Yankees!

Winning is Better…

Photo Credit: Adam Hunger, Associated Press


Yankees halt losing skid…

As I sit down to write this post, the Yankees have won one game today, albeit a big comeback to do it, but a win is a win. The Yankees have won the last two games in walk-off fashion, after finally snapping the seven-game losing skid on Saturday. The Yankees are just getting underway with the second of today’s games. Young rookie Deivi Garcia makes his Major League debut.

Photo Credit: Yankees.com


I hate losses. Sorry, but I grew up in the George Steinbrenner era where anything less than an undefeated season was unacceptable. Okay, I might not be too serious about that part but I was really hoping to avoid a losing skid this year with the shortened number of games. Seven games basically represents 12% of the schedule. Ouch! With the Yankees trailing the Tampa Bay Rays by four games in the AL East, they really can’t afford to keep losing. The regular season’s final month begins on Tuesday. The Rays have played a few more games than the Yankees due to the recent stretch of no games due to the COVID-19 concerns at Citi Field last weekend. The Yankees can make up ground with the rescheduled games but they need to win them. A nice 10-game winning streak would feel good about now.

When I woke up this morning, I was a little surprised it was my favorite NFL team, not my MLB team, that had pulled off the day’s biggest trade with MLB’s looming trade deadline tomorrow.  For what it’s worth (I realize most of you are Giants or Jets fans), the Minnesota Vikings acquired disgruntled DE Yannick Ngakoue from the Jacksonville Jaguars. Ngakoue gives the Vikings a pair of elite defensive ends (homegrown powerhouse Danielle Hunter is the other) which is great for a team that took some heavy free agent losses this past off-season. I kind of expected Yankees news before anything Vikings but so far the Yankees have been quiet. On one hand, I’d love to see them get reinforcements, but on the other, I don’t want to get rid of quality young talent for rentals. Not this year. 

I was kind of disappointed today when I saw the Baltimore Orioles had traded reliever Mychal Givens to the Colorado Rockies. I always thought Givens would be a good pickup for the Yankees. I realize he didn’t have a great 2019 season but he formed a good duo with Zack Britton not long ago and he’s been much better this year in a setup role. Phil Nevin’s son, Tyler, is now in the AL East with his dad as he was part of the package the O’s received for Givens. 

Photo Credit: Dom Amore, The Hartford Courant


I don’t want to see the Yankees part with prospects to get Lance Lynn. I realize that Lynn has been much better in Texas than he was with the Yankees, but he feels a little like ‘been there, done that’ to me and I just don’t trust him for the long term. Mike Clevinger would be nice if the Cleveland Indians are really serious about trading him, but he just seems like the latest Tribe trade bait that will be discussed for years before it happens and by the time it does, the receiving team will get damaged goods a la Corey Kluber.  

It seems like it is the potential end of the road for Erik Kratz’ latest tenure in Pinstripes. With Kyle Higashioka preparing to return within the next couple of days, it appears as though Kratz will lose his seat at the table. This might be why the Yankees made the minor acquisition for catcher Rob Brantly last week, whom they have stashed at the alternate training site. You kind of feel bad for the 40-year-old Kratz who has been around the game so long but Major League jobs have been fleeting for him despite some minor success a couple of years ago with the Milwaukee Brewers. Say what you will about Higgy but he’s not going to be the one to get the pink slip. I’m sure there are a few Yankee fans who would like to see the Yankees cut Gary Sanchez. Yeah, right. I look forward to Gary’s contributions to deliver the next World Series to New York City. If you don’t cheer for him now, don’t cheer for him when he helps us win.  

I’d love to be in Brian Cashman’s “War Room” right now. I have no doubt Cash and his team are working the phones and have a strong sense of who’s available and who can be had for the right price. That kind of goes without saying (yet I did anyway). I guess it’s possible the Yankees do nothing. As they say, sometimes the best trade is the trade never made. While the starting pitching has looked better lately, the bullpen has been a bit of a concern. The blown games by the pen during the losing streak are uncharacteristic but, with the injuries the unit has seen and the fact this is just a friggin’ strange year, reinforcing a strength is not a bad idea. Despite the good performance by J.A. Happ this weekend, I would still like to see other options. I want to win now and while I like Mike King and Happ’s still around, I want better now! This is not a time to be patient. I say that as someone who felt the pain for years after the Yankees unloaded the promising young Al Leiter years ago, much to my disappointment at the time. We all know Leiter went on to have a very good Major League career. The infamous Jesse Barfield trade. Nothing against Barfield, but I don’t want to make another one of those types of trades. I am not advocating the trade of King, I just want better starting options for 2020. Let him battle for 2021 and beyond. This is an all-hands on deck situation, and we need the best possible arms for any chance in October.

Yankees slugger (snicker, snicker)Tyler Wade has just given young Deivi a 1-0 lead over Seth Lugo and the New York Mets.  

Young Deivi seems to be making a statement today. Three innings of hitless ball so far with five strikeouts. Not sure what the final numbers will look like, but he’s certainly in a groove right now and getting better. No, I don’t want to see Deivi packaged in a deadline deal tomorrow. Not because of this performance but I am looking forward to a battle between Garcia and Clarke Schmidt next Spring as they attempt to take one of the vacated starting spots in the rotation, most likely the one currently occupied by James Paxton (well, when he is healthy). 

Ken Rosenthal is floating the availability of Starling Marte and Archie Bradley, currently with the Arizona Diamondbacks. Both of those guys would look good in the Bronx. I’ve wanted Bradley for a few years now, and the Yankees could certainly use a quality outfielder with the health issues surrounding Giancarlo Stanton and Aaron Judge.  

Photo Credit: Mark J Rebilas, USA TODAY Sports


I was surprised to see the Tampa Bay Rays move DH Jose Martinez to the Chicago Cubs this weekend. When the Rays picked up Martinez last off-season from the St Louis Cardinals, I thought it would work out to be another sneaky good move by the Rays. Martinez was a defensive liability in National League with the Cards but he has a powerful bat. He’ll settle into the DH role with the Cubs. You don’t expect a division leader to trade away veterans, even if they are underperforming, but then again, it’s the Rays and despite their success, they have to pay very close attention to the bottom line, especially in a year that sees no fans flock to Tropicana Field rather than the usual one or two dozen that show up during normal times.  

I know this is not baseball news but I was really saddened to hear about the death of actor Chadwick Boseman, 43, from colon cancer. Since he had not disclosed his illness, his passing was a shock. He was such a great thespian who had presence, incredible talent, charm and charisma. He made us believe he was Jackie Robinson in 42 and of course we all bowed to the great King of Wakanda in his epic role as Marvel’s Black Panther. I am even more impressed with Boseman’s public appearances over the last few years, in retrospect, when unknown to us at the time, he had already been diagnosed with cancer.  He continued to give until he could give no more. I always like to say everybody is replaceable but unfortunately, Chadwick is not. There will never be another like him, and it’s a huge loss for Hollywood…and for America and the entire World. It is ironic he passed on a weekend when Major League Baseball was celebrating the legendary Jackie Robinson but it’s the perfect tribute. Two very great men that we’ll never, ever forget. Wakanda Fovever!…Jackie Robinson Forever!…Chadwick Boseman Forever!…

It’s the fourth inning and Deivi Garcia just gave up his first hit. Trade the bum!  Seriously, he has done better than I thought but the real challenge will be the Mets getting their second and possibly third looks at him depending upon how deep he goes into this game. Regardless of how the game turns out, Deivi is making the case he wants to be at Yankee Stadium for the long haul. Great poise by the youngster who was deprived a vibrant Yankee Stadium crowd  for his, so far, highly successful adventure in the Bronx on a warm Sunny late August day.   

One day to the trading deadline. Will tomorrow bring us some new Yankees? We shall soon find out, boys and girls. Stay tuned…

As always, Go Yankees!

Placing My Feelings on the Injured List…

The shortened season’s “bump in the road”…

I always found it difficult to face an off day after the Yankees are swept. The sting of the losses continue to resonate until the Yankees can snap the losing streak. The fact they were beaten in three consecutive games by their strongest AL East challenger, at home, and have had a weekend off for coronavirus avoidance makes it worse. I am not feeling good about the team at the moment but then again, it’s the normal roller coaster ride of a regular season. I guess the ebbs and flows are a little harder to handle when you know there are such few games compared to a normal season. Although outwardly I maintain a sense of calm and confidence, I am taking those highs and lows with reckless abandon on the inside, I can assure you.  

Photo Credit: The Simpsons/FOX


It is painfully obvious the Yankees need to figure out how to beat the Tampa Bay Rays if they plan to advance very far into October.  Unfortunately, a rash of injuries has developed which has deprived the Yankees of some of their best players…for at least the short term. It is ironic the injuries have continued despite the overhaul of the team’s physical conditioning unit last off-season. I know, this is not Eric Cressey’s fault. The modified season itself and the shortened second training camp hold much of the blame. I get it but I had optimistically hoped the Yankees could stay healthy this year with the new crew to maximize their fullest potential. Nope, it remains ‘Next Man Up’ and we continue to hold faith and trust for GM Brian Cashman and his team to deliver the next Gio Urshela. For the record, I do believe they will.

The first outsider, now part of the organization, to get a chance to return to the Major Leagues is former Pittsburgh Pirates infielder Jordy Mercer. Most recently, the 33-year-old Oklahoman was playing for the Detroit Tigers but opted to become a free agent earlier this month when he refused an outright assignment to the Tigers’ alternate training site after clearing waivers. The one-time starting shortstop for the Pirates, a career .257/.315/.387 hitter, will get a chance help at second base, if the Yankees make room for him on the active roster, with the injuries to D.J. LeMahieu and Gleyber Torres. His glove has been scary at short but hopefully it plays better at second (at least it has over the small sample size in his Pirates-Tigers career).  

Photo Credit: Elsa, Getty Images


Mercer only played in three games for Detroit this year and doesn’t offer much upside but maybe he can help ‘hold the door’ while the other healthy players deliver the winning results. I’ve seen a few people say the Yankees should sign former Red Sox infielder Brock Holt, recently cut loose by the Milwaukee Brewers, but I think Mercer is the better player. It’s not like the Yankees are going to find high quality free agents on the open market at this time of year. It will be interesting to see what the Yankees do in the next week as we approach the trading deadline which is just a week from Monday.  

Speaking of trades, the Yankees did make one this week. After designating David Hale for assignment, they traded him to the Philadelphia Phillies to allow Hale to join their Yankees alumni association. With no intended knock against Hale, who has generally done a good job when asked, I was a little surprised the Yankees got anything for him. Addison Russ, a 25-year-old right-handed reliever is not exactly what you’d call a prospect but he has dominated the minor leagues with 200 strikeouts in nearly 153 career innings. I’ll be interested in seeing what the Yankees can do with Russ. Perhaps it is another gold nugget uncovered by Cashman. Then again, maybe he never sees the light of day at Yankee Stadium. I’ll hope for the former, but as the saying goes, “nothing ventured, nothing gained” so, with that  being said, I am glad Russ is in the organization regardless of how this plays out. If he plays somewhere in the middle of my lofty unsubstantiated hopes for success and being a future DFA player, this trade will have turned out very, very well for the Yankees. Odds are we haven’t seen the last of Hale but at least he gave us something to work with in his latest departure.   

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With thirty-five regular season games left to play, the Yankees will be without shortstop Gleyber Torres following his placement on the Injured List with Grade 1 strains of his left hamstring and quad. Manager Aaron Boone is on record saying Torres will be out in the “two to three week range” under their current thinking. My hope is the rest and recovery allows Torres to play more like the 2019 version of himself. At any rate, I’ll hold out optimism for his quick return to full health and when he does come back, he is accompanied by a very productive bat.  

The Yankees also lost James Paxton and Zack Britton to the Injured List. 

Regarding Paxton, I really thought it was the end as I expected an announcement he would need Tommy John surgery. Fortunately, and thankfully, I am not a doctor, and the diagnosis was just a strained left forearm (Grade 1 flexor strain). Yeah, the word “just” is a little ridiculous but it’s better than Stephen Strasburg’s fate. Paxton blames it on the shortened summer training, “I think it’s pretty simple. We didn’t get enough time going at a lower speed to kind of build up.” Regardless, I think Paxton’s days as a Yankee are numbered. I had previously thought it was unlikely the Yankees would re-sign him when he hits the open market after the season, but this year’s performance and the continuation of injuries is pretty much the nail in the coffin.  Oh well, it bodes well for the Clarke Schmidt 2021 campaign. After a couple of weeks rest, Paxton will get some time in Scranton/Wilkes-Barre to rebuild his arm strength. Hopefully there’s enough time for him to make his mark on this season. He certainly has the talent if he can maintain his health after the most recent setback.  

As for Schmidt, we may get an early preview of the potential 2021 starter as soon as this week. I am ready for his time to start even if the Yankees aren’t quite ready to begin his service time clock. I’d really like to see Schmidt grow and develop as a Major League pitcher and there’s only one place to learn (clue: it’s not the alternate training site). The downside of a Schmidt move is the elimination of a seat holder on the current 40-man roster as a precursor to his elevation to active status on the Major League roster. While I’ve always liked Ben Heller, I know it is inevitable he’ll eventually get the tap on the shoulder that it’s time to go. I just hope it is for something of value and not just a trip down the DFA highway without a net. 

Britton feels he’ll be ready to go after 10 days following his trip to the Injured List for a strained left hamstring. Britton, the team’s closer for much of the season until the recent return of Aroldis Chapman, is such a huge part of the Yankees bullpen so we certainly need him back sooner than later but, as with any injuries, never too soon. I fully expect superior physical therapy management from Eric Cressey and his team. 

The Yankees also lost reliever Luis Avilan, a mild surprise this season, to the IL on Friday with Torres and Paxton. He was diagnosed with shoulder inflammation.

Of the current players already on the IL, there is strong optimism we’ll see Aaron Judge this week when the Yankees return to play. LeMahieu, already taking dry swings, should not be too far behind. It will be fantastic to get both of those guys back. I haven’t really heard any updates on Giancarlo Stanton but that’s what I’ve grown to expect. A mystery when he’ll be able to play and total pessimism of his ability to stay healthy when he is. As the current White House occupant would say, “it is what it is”.  Thankfully, it’s Hal Steinbrenner’s money and not mine.

Hopefully the Yankees are back soon. I am ready to put the recent slump aside and move back up the AL East standings. They’ll play two in Atlanta starting Tuesday night. The Mets, their planned opponent for the cancelled series this weekend, will come to Yankee Stadium (hopefully) next weekend. After the Braves and the Mets, a rematch with the Rays looms in the Bronx for their final three-game head-to-head match-up before the fun of October begins. Not trying to look too far ahead but anything less than taking at least two of three will be unacceptable. There’s a day off after the series, Thursday, September 3rd, and I want that to be a GOOD day. Make it happen, Pinstripers!

As always, Go Yankees!

The Injured List Champions…

Yankees continue to use the all-too-familiar IL…

I was kind of hoping that we would have left the ‘Next Man Up’ in 2019 yet here we are. The Yankees have shelved multiple expected key 2020 key contributors. Granted, Giancarlo Stanton, Aroldis Chapman, and Aaron Judge are just temporarily away, unlike Tommy Kahnle, but any lost time in 2020 is significant due to the limited number of games. Chapman, who overcame the coronavirus, has yet to throw his first regular season pitch. 

Seeing the names of Stanton and Judge in the lineup is such a fleeting opportunity. The way Judge was crushing the ball, I am hopeful that he’s back after the minimum time on the Injured List. Not sure why the Yankees are always so secretive about his health. It leads to such mystery about how he’s really doing and if the Yankees are being straight with us. With both Stanton and Judge, my mind always wonders if we are looking at just 15 days or if the season is lost. Hard to keep the ‘glass is half full’ approach regarding the health mysteries that always swirl around both of the players, Judge in particular. 

When Judge went on the IL, I was surprised it was Thairo Estrada who got the call rather than Miguel Andujar. I get there are things Miggy needs to work on, but his bat needs to face Major League pitchers if it is going to come around like his pre-surgery self. Okay, the Yankees pitchers at the alternate training site in Pennsylvania are technically Major League pitchers but it is not the same. I am not sure that a couple weeks playing simulated games will substantially improve Miggy at this point. Either he is going to get better in real games or he is not. Seems like he may be trade fodder with the deadline just a couple of weeks away. I like Miggy and trading him now seems like you’d be selling low so the potential return does not seem as great as it could or should be. Maybe some other GM seems the potential in the player and his bat and is willing to roll the dice. We’ll see. I’d rather see the Yankees hold on to him but they need to play him.

I was disappointed when the Yankees recently lost three of four to the red hot Tampa Bay Rays. The Rays subsequently swept the Boston Red Sox but fortunately…and finally…lost to the Toronto Blue Jays last night so the Yankees have a two-game lead in the AL East over the Rays and the surprising Baltimore Orioles. The Gerrit Cole-led Yankees easily defeated the Red Sox yesterday in their weekend series opener. The rest of the rotation needs to man up and match Cole’s performance, especially against the AL East’s worst 2020 team. If the Yankees do not sweep the Sox or at least win the series, it will be a big disappointment. I’d prefer the sweep. Kick the Sox while they are down. It always feels good to me. 

Photo Credit: Frank Franklin II, AP


Speaking of Cole, the guy simply refuses to lose. Last night’s win was Cole’s 20th straight win, dating back to his time in that other disgusting uniform. Oh well, he is 4-0 as a Yankee and I am loving every moment of his time in Pinstripes. It’s so great to have a starter who gives you 100% confidence every time he takes the mound. I think I may be suffering from post traumatic stress  disorder watching James Paxton and J.A. Happ pitch. Now is a good time for them to turn it around, please. As for Cole, the MLB record is 24 consecutive games, held by Carl Hubbell in 1936 and 1937, so hopefully he continues this winning march to October.  

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I was glad to see Gary Sanchez homer again last night and Gleyber Torres going for 4-for-4. Two cold bats that may finally be warming up. With the big boys on the IL, the Yankees really need El Gary and young Gleyber to play to their expected levels. 

After watching D.J. LeMahieu post another multi-hit game, his 69th since 2019 which leads the Majors according to the YES Network team, I have to wonder when the Yankees are going to sign him to an extension. I really do not want to see this guy hit free agency. Sure, the Yankees will likely re-sign him but I just don’t enjoy the thought of total freedom where anything can happen. The last thing I would want is to see D.J. playing for Boston or Tampa.  I know he likes being a Yankee and we like him as one. The Steinbrenner Family needs to ensure that he stays one.

I thought Texas might be a good opportunity for former Yankees first baseman Greg Bird and maybe it still will be, but his latest chance ended with his designation for assignment on August 11th, a week after he had been placed on the (surprise!) Injured List. Maybe he clears waivers and is sent outright to the Rangers’ alternate training site but Bird, the man with the beautiful swing, has certainly fallen on hard times. Here’s hoping that he can rise from the ashes to become the player he was destined to be. 

Another player who has been given another chance in Pinstripes is Clint Frazier. No longer a prospect, Frazier has an opportunity to show he belongs in light of the outfield injuries. With a homer against the Atlanta Braves on Wednesday and a two-run double last night, he seems to be taking advantage of the opportunity even if two games does not define a career. Keep it going, Clint. We legitimately want you to succeed. If you win, we win. 

The St Louis Cardinals will finally play their first game since July 29th when they face the Chicago White Sox at Guaranteed Rate Field in the Windy City. It’s funny looking at the NL Central standings. The Cards, stricken by the coronavirus, have only played 5 games, winning two. Yet, they are the second place team, 5 games behind the division leading Chicago Cubs. I do kind of feel badly for them, knowing they have a number of double-headers in their future as they attempt to make up games. Thank God for seven inning games.  

To address a question posed by fearless TGP leader, Daniel Burch, on Twitter (@GreedyStripes), I am getting used to it. The question was ‘Do you still notice the fact there’s no fans in the stands?’ I think what bothers me most is the teams with cardboard cut-outs in the seats. Considering I live in Southern California, I tend to watch a lot of Dodgers games and the cut-outs bother me every game. I am glad they are currently playing in my neighborhood at Angels Stadium so that I can get a break from those foolish views despite my love for Dodger Stadium.   

Back to the trading deadline, I still think the Yankees will seek help for the pitching staff or at least I hope so. This seems to be an on-going hunt every year. It’s nice having Cole this go-around but we still need better arms to surround him. It will be nice to get Aroldis Chapman back as it deepens the bullpen which compensates for the loss of Kahnle. Word is circulating that Chappy could be back tomorrow. Zack Britton has been an excellent stand-in for the Cuban Missile and it’s nice to know he’s there if needed. Listening to the R2C2 Podcast this week, it didn’t surprise me to hear that Britton is the guy Gerrit Cole gravitates to when talking baseball.  I’d love to listen to those two guys talk about pitching. Throw in pitching coach Matt Blake and I am sure the conversation goes well above my knowledge and comprehension. Well, that’s with or without Blake. 

Considering the Boston Red Sox (6-14) should be sellers this year, I wonder what it would take to pry short stop Xander Bogaerts from them. I know, Boston would NEVER trade a star player to the Yankees. They’d be foolish to part with Bogaerts in any scenario to any team as he is huge building block for future success. I am consistently on record as a Francisco Lindor in Pinstripes dreamer, but I’d be as happy with Bogaerts calling the Bronx home. He is a fun player to watch. There is always at least one Red Sox player I really like and Bogaerts has become that guy for me ever since the Red Sox traded Mookie Betts to the Los Angeles Dodgers. Not that I am trying to push Gleyber Torres out of shortstop, but I never stop dreaming of the desire to be the best.  You’ve got to remember I grew up in the George Steinbrenner “All-Star players at every position” era.  

Kind of a bummer we have to wait until this evening to watch the Yankees and Red Sox. The aforementioned James Paxton gets the start against former Yankee “Nasty Nate” Nathan Eovaldi. The Big Maple comes into the game with a July 1984 ERA (7.84). Time for him to start working towards earlier months in the year. February or March would be nice. I know that my PTSD will set in for those first few innings. Hopefully Paxton can overcome the early innings to deliver a quality performance. At some point, you’d think Cole has to rub off on Paxton. Let it be tonight!  

As always, Go Yankees!