2020 Spring Training II may soon be a reality…
For the first time in a long time, this feels like this will be a critical week for Major League Baseball. The MLB owners are expected to present a proposal to the Players Association for revenue and finance modifications, in addition to health and safety protocols, in preparation for a proposed shortened season. It still seems like we are in for the continuation of back and forth moves but realistically time is running out, literally, if there is to be a 2020 season. If the season is as foggy next weekend as it is now, optimism for a successful launch of the season will start to fade (if it hasn’t already). I am hopeful the groundwork is laid to give us baseball soon.
All I know is I want baseball. I’ve seen people writing the negatives about a potential 82 game season (increased likelihood of a player hitting .400?) but there’s no doubt this season will carry the proverbial asterisk for whatever happens. I have reconciled with myself that we will not see a traditional version of professional baseball until 2021 at the earliest. Even next year, with a full slate of 162 games, might still feel a little off with the residual effects of the COVID-19 Pandemic. Still, I’d rather have baseball this year than no baseball. We’re in the prime of Gerrit Cole’s career and I don’t want to miss another minute (or pitch). Who knows what challenges an 82 game season will present, but I am willing to endure the pain to experience the joy. The deeper we go without the return of America’s favorite pastime, more potential games are eliminated. To go less than 82 games does start to seem like ‘why bother?’ as it would reward teams with hot starts regardless of the quality of their clubs to succeed over better and more deserving clubs. So, as much as I want baseball back, there is probably a line in the sand and we’re getting close to it. That’s why I am hopeful for optimistic news this week. But that darn realist in me keeps trying to pour water on my party. At least we’re talking baseball again. It has to start somewhere.
As the injured Yankees return to good health, it made me wonder if there has been a player to have off-season Tommy John surgery and yet be ready and available for Opening Day. I didn’t look it up to see if it has ever happened before but it could be the case for Aaron Hicks as he was expected back in June or July. I know, it’s not the same as a pitcher, but still, it will be incredible if Hicks is your starting centerfielder when the games resume. A welcome sight, no doubt, but credit to him for the hard work he’s put in since undergoing surgery to put himself in position to be ready.
|Photo Credit: @ahicks31 via Instagram|
James Paxton and Giancarlo Stanton seem to be other players who will be ready, much to the disappointment of hopefuls for their spots (led by Jonathan Loaisiga, Deivi Garcia, and Clint Frazier, among others). I feel bad for Frazier. I’ve said it before but I’ll say it again. If Frazier is earmarked for another season in Triple A, the Yankees should trade him to create MLB opportunity for the promising player. I do not see any purpose gained by another year in the minors regardless of how much Frazier needs to work on his defense. The only way, at this point, for Frazier to get better for the Major Leagues is to play in the Major Leagues. I’d like to see him succeed with the Yankees. Brett Gardner played very well last year, but with each passing year, he’ll lose a little bit more. It happens to the best of us. You cannot slow down Father Time, especially when you are in your late 30’s. Even in a shortened season, I see the Yankees leaning more heavily on guys like Mike Tauchman as the need to keep Gardy healthy will be stronger than it ever has been. It could create opportunity for Frazier, but then again, maybe not. This will be interesting to watch in the coming months. It would be fun to watch Frazier grab opportunity with both hands and ride it to a very productive MLB season.
|Photo Credit: @clintfrazierr via Instagram|
I am sure the opportunity will be there for the younger pitchers. It’s not like Cole and company will be pitching nine innings (or at least seven) an outing right out of the gate, especially with an abbreviated re-start to Spring Training. Those middle innings need to be filled and expanded rosters will help the younger arms gain exposure. I guess Spring Training this year should be called Summer Training…if it happens. Florida may be nice in March but it’s not exactly where I would want to train in June or July. Yet, veterans and rookies alike will be pitching for success and it will create memorable moments for all of us in whatever form the season takes.
This will be a big year for Paxton. An impending free agent, his performance, even with a proposed shortened season, sets the stage for his next contract. Teams will be watching to see if he can stay healthy which, up to this point, has been a challenge. I like Paxton and I hope this is not his final year in Pinstripes. Yet, with Masahiro Tanaka heading into free agency, it seems like the Yankees will lose at least one. I’d probably like to see Tanaka finish his career in the Bronx, even with the annual threat of Tommy John surgery looming over his elbow. I get frustrated with those obligatory regular season home runs, but Masa turns up the volume in the post-season and you need guys like that to be the last team standing. The Andy Pettitte Effect. So, I guess the question is who would you rather have? Paxton or Tanaka. That’s a tough one. I think Paxton could be a very effective pitcher in his 30’s if he could overcome the injury label, but Masa has been a very good Yankee from Day One and knows how to pitch effectively despite any limitations or obstacles. I know I didn’t really answer the question about which pitcher I would prefer to keep but I’d like to see both Yankee careers continue. I just don’t think it is possible, especially in a year that has seen such a cut in team finances.
I think one of the biggest downsides to the MLB delay this season is the dilution of focus on the Houston cheating scandal. Maybe it will re-surface when the games resume but if the games are played in empty stadiums, the only boos will come from opposing dugouts. Not quite the same as having packed stadium crowds laying it on thick. Jim Crane and his roster of cheaters, in my opinion, will be getting off easy. I really hope I am wrong about this. The Astros disrespected the game we love and it’s unfortunate they will not see the full wrath of penalties and punishment they deserve.
Ready for baseball. MLB, Players Association…the ball is in your hands. Let’s do this.
|Photo Credit: Kim Klement, USA TODAY Sports|
As always, Go Yankees!
|Photo Credit: Charles Wenzelberg, The New York Post|
Despite delay, MLB could be back within 60 days…
As we continue to wait for the return of America’s favorite pastime, at least there is a growing sense of optimism for a 2020 MLB season in some shape or form. I miss baseball and I miss the New York Yankees. The career of a baseball player is so short, relatively-speaking, and it is sad to miss what could have been the best year for some. Still, it is more likely than not we’ll see 23-year-old Gleyber Torres making spectacular plays on the field or Gerrit Cole dominating hitters while wearing the famed Pinstripes. We just don’t know where…or when. For now, I’ll take hope as an option and maybe it will yield fruit for all of us.
I think Major League Baseball did the right thing postponing Derek Jeter’s Hall of Fame induction to the summer of 2021. With a record crowd expected, it makes no sense to put lives at risk. Jeter is a Hall of Famer and waiting a little longer for the official induction does not change anything. He’ll have his moment in the sun. There just might be a few more guys joining Jeter…and Ted Simmons, Larry Walker, and Marvin Miller…with the future announcement of the Class of 2021. Oh well, hopefully by then, we can once again say, “the more, the merrier”.
I called the Los Angeles Angels a couple of days ago to request refund of the tickets I had purchased for the weekend series in Anaheim over Memorial Day Weekend against the Yankees. I had expected some difficulty, however, there was none. With the uncertainty of the season (and schedule if/when play resumes), I didn’t just want a credit against future games. I’d prefer to make the choices when games resume and opponents are known. I had been excited to see the Yankees this year after four years of living in a National League city, but like Derek Jeter, I may have to wait until 2021 to watch America’s favorite team take the field.
I feel bad for the Cleveland Indians. Last off-season, as we all know, they traded Corey Kluber to the Texas Rangers for what seemed like a light return: outfielder Delino DeShields and hard-throwing reliever Emmanuel Clase. I wonder if they’d like to undo that trade with word Clase has been suspended for 80 games after testing positive for a banned PED, Boldenone. Clase is young enough to rebound from this, but he is certainly not starting his Indians career on the right foot. Speaking of suspensions, it is probably unlikely we see Domingo German this year as we continue to wait for the start of his penalty. Seems a little unfair that the penalty box time has already started for disgraced former managers Alex Cora and A.J. Hinch but not for German who must wait until the games start to serve his suspension since his sentence is number of games and not simply for the year.
On a sad note, I heard today that former Oakland A’s pitcher Matt Keough, 64, died on Friday. I remember him being a big part of the A’s under the early 80’s leadership of the great Billy Martin and the famed Billy Ball Era in the East Bay. I think I had forgotten he pitched for the Yankees in 12 games during the 1983 season. He compiled a 3-4 record, with an unsightly 5.17 ERA, in the dozen Pinstriped games. Unfortunately, despite his youth at that time, 27, he was never the same pitcher he had been in his earlier 20’s with the A’s. I can now recollect wanting him to succeed (I always liked him when he was with Oakland) but it was not meant to be. I didn’t follow his career closely but I do remember the talk of people at the time who felt Billy had overused his arm in those early days with the A’s. I have not seen the cause of death (it was not released when the A’s made the announcement on Saturday), but 64 is too young. May he rest in peace…
I have seen a few posts that cite tomorrow as the two-year anniversary for the Cleveland Indians’ release of Gio Urshela. I’ve also seen non-Yankee fans who act like we think our scouting department is better than everybody else for picking up Gio. Well, we are better than everybody else but that’s besides the point. I don’t think the Yankees knew Gio would blossom in New York. When they picked him up from the Toronto Blue Jays in August 2018, Gio spent the remainder of the year in the minors, they needed the depth, and he became a minor league free agent that winter before re-signing with the Yankees. If the Yankees had known he would flourish in 2019, they wouldn’t have let him become a free agent, in my opinion. It remains to be seen if Gio can have the same level of success in 2020, assuming there is a season or at least a truncated version thereof, as he did in 2019. I like Gio and I want him as the starting third baseman, with no disrespect to Miguel Andujar. I value strong defense at the position and I feel despite his occasional miscues, Gio is the superior defender. If Gio regresses back to one-dimensional play, I’d be among the first of Gio’s supporters calling for Andjuar’s return. Gio needs to keep hitting to keep the job. If he does, great. I’ll be very excited and happy for him. I’ll never view this as something the Yankees saw that no one else did. They rolled the dice and won. There have been plenty of times when it hasn’t worked out for those types of decisions.
|Photo Credit: Kathy Willens, AP|
Back to the game itself, the talk lately seems to be centered on a shortened 100-game season that would conclude in late November. The teams broken up into three 10-team divisions, perhaps with geographical restrictions where the games are played, and keeping regular season games within each division. The season could potentially start in late June or early July. Honestly, I don’t really care what format they decide upon. I recognize that all traditions, as we know them, are out the window this year. I’d rather have some form of Major League Baseball, whatever it looks like, rather than no professional baseball until the 2021 season.
If the season does start and the World Series is not played until around Thanksgiving, this is going to be the strangest off-season in recent memory. The regular season may be truncated but so will the off-season. I guess that’s a good thing to help expedite off-season trades and free agent signings. Decisions will have to be made very quickly. I just hope the Yankees keep the eye on the ball and make sure they get DJ LeMahieu’s signature on the dotted line and don’t let him slip away. It feels like we’re going to lose one or both of Masahiro Tanaka and James Paxton. If he could ever stay healthy, Paxton offers the most upside, in my opinion, but Tanaka has been a very good Yankee for the duration of his career. I’d hate to see him go elsewhere, such as Seattle, and give other fans reason to cheer. Well, not that I wouldn’t want him to be supported wherever he may go, but I’d just prefer the Yankees keep him as our own. If the Yankees do lose one or both, they’ll really need some of the young pitchers in the organization to step up. We’ve heard years of promise with the young arms but it’s nearing showtime for their prime opportunities. It’s possible GM Brian Cashman swings a deal for a proven young arm or two next off-season but those type of transactions seem to be more fiction than fact. Dipping into the free agent pool for replacements seems kind of counter-productive (why not just re-sign Tanaka and Paxton?). The Yankees have a window of opportunity for a championship right now but there are decisions ahead for the organization which can certainly make or break those dreams. No pressure, Cash.
According to reports last week, we could start to see the return of some Yankees to Tampa this week. I haven’t heard or seen anything the last couple of days, but it will be good to see players return to Steinbrenner Field and allow us to actually watch some current baseball activity as opposed to the endless replay of games past. My TV was on SportsNet LA earlier today and it was amazing how the Dodgers just kept winning their games in walk-off fashion, game after game. No doubt the Yankees are similarly undefeated so far this year on the YES Network (I wouldn’t know since I no longer have access to the channel with my move to LA).
Stay safe, be safe.
As always, Go Yankees!
Commissioner proves his ineptness, again…
It’s been awhile since I’ve sat down to write a post so I guess I should get to it. Admittedly, with the stay at home orders in effect for the COVID-19 Pandemic and the absence of Major League Baseball, there’s a general sense of disconnection with our favorite sport, at least for me.
Since the COVID-19 Pandemic began, I’ve relocated 1,100 miles from Denver, Colorado to the warmer confines of Orange County, California. I know, not the best time to make a cross-country move. Three weeks ago, I endured cold temps and a snowstorm as I was preparing to leave Colorado. Yesterday, the temperature reading outside was 99. Winter to Summer faster than DJ LeMahieu can scoop up a hard grounder off the bat of Xander Bogaerts. Oh well, it only means that I’ve seen my last snowfall and that’s a good thing.
The news of the week was obviously the commissioner’s announcement of the penalties (very loose use of the word, sorry) handed down to the Boston Red Sox for their involvement with cheating activities during the 2018 season. Frankly, I expected the punishment to be very light. Like many, I’ve reached the conclusion that Rob Manfred is a weak commissioner and I didn’t expect him to take a stand against the Red Sox. Even if we felt Houston got off easy, I didn’t think MLB would come close to the penalties assessed on the Astros for Boston. Unfortunately, I was right. Probably my biggest surprise was how easy former Red Sox manager Alex Cora emerged from the penalty phase despite dishonest tactics that contributed to World Series championships in two consecutive years for him. Since it was so light (he was basically penalized for 2017 but not 2018), I fully expect him to return as Red Sox manager at some point. I know Boston removed the “interim” tag from current Manager Ron Roenicke, but I think his tenure will be short. The surprise for me will be if Cora does not return as Red Sox manager.
|Photo Credit: Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports|
As frustrating as it may be that Boston was only forced to forfeit a second round draft pick (and the video replay-operator was suspended), I am glad to put the entire cheating scandals behind us. If the Red Sox cheated, I never felt they did it as openly and dishonestly as the Astros. I am not trying to condone what the Red Sox did but I am ready to move the game forward in a positive light and put the misdealing’s of two Major League clubs in the archives. I hope, if those two teams, or any teams, are subsequently found to be guilty of further incidents of trying to cheat to win, the penalties and will be swift and severe. Granted, the hammer should fall harder on the Astros and Red Sox with multiple offenses to their record, but really no team should get off as easily as the Red Sox did.
Yankees manager Aaron Boone pretty much echoed those words in a recent interview which appeared in The New York Post:
“I’m glad that we’re kind of through those situations,’’ Boone said. “Hopefully, as I’ve said all along and I do believe this, hopefully just as a sport we’ll be better moving forward knowing that you mess around and they’re coming for you. And I think that’s a good thing.”
I saw some criticism of Boone for his words, but I get it. We need to move on. I think the toughest part for any of us is wondering when that may be since it is all contingent upon when MLB play can be resumed. Shortened season, no fans in the stands, limiting games to certain states…we’ve seen plenty of alternative options discussed but realistically the cancellation of the entire season remains in play. I don’t think anyone wants to see the season wiped away, particularly not the owners and their need for greed. But until clear vision for how to restart the season emerges, the possibility of no season exists.
I am saddened that we could potentially lose one of Gerrit Cole’s prime years. There’s little question he’ll be much less effective in the latter half of his contract so the worth of his huge contract is literally dependent upon his successes in the early years, much like CC Sabathia a decade ago.
|Photo Credit: Frank Franklin II-AP|
On the bright side, there is probably a good chance that both Giancarlo Stanton and James Paxton (and possibly even Aaron Hicks) will be ready depending upon when/if the season is resumed.
It’s been good to have the NFL Draft the last couple of days to give us some degree of Sports in our universe. My TV has tuned into ESPN for the first time in a long time. I had to figure out what channel it was even on since I hadn’t ever watched it during my very short time in Southern California.
Still wondering if the Los Angeles Angels will refund me for the tickets I bought for the Yankees’ three-game series in Anaheim over Memorial Day Weekend or if they’ll just apply them to future games. In advance of my move, I had bought tickets to multiple baseball games and two concerts over the summer and there’s a chance none come to fruition. Wasted money at this point.
As much as I want the World to return to some sense of normalcy, I am concerned about doing too much, too soon, and bringing the arc of the coronavirus back up. I miss baseball and the distraction it creates for our daily lives (a much needed and therapeutic distraction, I should add). I look forward to watching baseball games on TV and in person. I know we’ve been given many options to watch games of years gone by but it’s not the same. I want to see Giancarlo Stanton smash a massive home run far into the outfield crowd or depending where the games are played, far over the outer reaches of the ballparks…in real time. I want to watch Gerrit Cole dominant his opponents, and see him annihilate his former Houston teammates. One day, some day…
I hope everyone is healthy and safe. For those of you who have been adversely impacted by the deadly coronavirus, we stand with you and keep you in our thoughts and prayers. We’ll make it through this, and we will stand united again in our love of baseball and the Yankees.
As always, Go Yankees!
MLB 2020 Arizona Regional Plan
As it pertains to COVID-19, the 2020 Plan and all aspects contain herein will serve to provide a roadmap for starting the season as expeditiously as possible and a built-in contingency plan for scheduling games to be played outside of Arizona as well.
The Plan isn’t just a patchwork of other plans thrown around, but takes the positives of Arizona and combines them with the potential to not only take advantage of low-to-non-risk areas (regions) of the country as the COVID-19 risk wanes itself out potentially. 2020 would also serve positively as a one-year test pilot for other hot button items that had already been in the works for possible league rollout. The schedule itself would allow for maximum flexibility with respect to the virus. The Plan will only really cover the game itself, and not hotels, disinfection, logistics, player travel etc., so here we go…
The season calls for the use of 11 stadiums in the Phoenix area. Chief among them is Chase Field. The slate of games scheduled is for 100 games per club over a 15-week schedule. Games would be scheduled throughout the day Tuesday through Sunday at Chase Field, with any needed make-up games (i.e. stadium issues or other reasons not related to weather) on Mondays. Mondays would also be used for the same at the ST stadiums in the area where the other 20 teams would play. Each division would travel to Chase together (OK, maybe not together) for a week of games. Two divisions a week would play, for a total of 10 teams playing 6 games each. Each team would play round robin divisional play plus two out-of-division games. 8am, 11:30, 3pm, 6:30 and 10pm would be the game times, equaling 5 games X 6 days for a total of 30 games.
Meanwhile, at the other stadiums teams would play 7 games in a week, so that would involve one double-header per week when not at the featured Chase Field. Games should start either early in the morning or at night, as good lighting systems are readily available, and night games are something that translate well for league revenue and would also provide a fun break for the teams. Night games would be a great way to space out a twin bill as well. So, with Monday always set aside for make-ups (also rain possibility without roof), each team would play earlier morning games 5-6 times a week with the extra 1-2 games (7 total) being played under the stars. There are twenty teams playing each week with this schedule, making a total of 70 games played per each.
This may or may not seem like anything new for the discussion, but its about to get interesting as we look into an aspect that will allow for an interesting Postseason and also the flexibility to play games in other areas of the country as COVID-19 permits. This introduces the aspect of Regions. The MLB Region is something on slate only for 2020, yet there may be other benefits to applying it in the future (e.g. coat containment, less travel).
Using the Chase Field weekly paradigm, 3 of the 5 weeks that each division will be scheduled there will be with its corresponding division from the other league. For example, to begin we may have the NL Central and the AL Central. The second week, we’d have the NL East with the AL East, and then week 3 would feature the NL West and the AL West. Apart from providing a cornerstone for a cohesive 2020 schedule, it creates a “regional” aspect that will later serve us.
Here’s how: if COVID-19 allows certain cities (see MLB’s extensive regional virus figures when available) to re-open, some will, but some will not. Penciling in geographic “cold spots” around the country, where games could be played in front of fans, it would allow the game to be played in many cities. Imagine both western divisions playing September, or even August games in Los Angeles or San Diego. MLB could have both East divisions playing in Toronto and its retractable roof, or Miami. The Central could play in any city opened up from the virus as well. There could be many stadiums open for fans. “Regional play” would guarantee the greatest amount of flexibility by back-loading regional match-ups in addition to divisional games, which are already scheduled that way in a playoff chase.
Therefore, the secret to the season is front-loading “non-regional” games. This begs the question, “WTH is a non-regional game?” A non-regional game is played against a team with a different division designation (East, Central, West). In the Spring Training ballparks, the majority of those games would be interleague games and “intraleague” games, but where the West doesn’t play the West and the Central doesn’t play against the Central. Those matchups can happen later, and hopefully in front of fans. But if nothing else, Arizona would always be in perpetual place as a plan B should COVID-19 continue throughout the regular season.
For sake of the following graphic, let’s set some terms. Divisional games we understand – games played within a team’s division (e.g. Padres vs. Dodgers).
Regional games are both divisional games and Interleague games played within the same divisional designation (e.g. Yankees vs. Mets). Non-Regional games are both Interleague and Intraleague games that are played with teams having a different divisional designation. Examples of this would be Red Sox vs. White Sox or Red Sox versus Cubs. So… crucial to The Plan is creating a regional aspect. We can frontload the season in Arizona with non-regional games. In this way, we can open up the game to the fans in real time providing favourable conditions they may come to exist.
SAMPLE SCHEDULING CHASE FIELD
This example shows each regional grouping 3 times each. This means AL West and NL West comprise the ten teams that play at Chase Field in 3 of the 15 weeks. The Central teams and the East teams do the same respectively. By swapping weeks 7 through 9 with 10 through 12, the schedule becomes even more flexible with respect to the potential for playing games in front of fans within their respective regions. Imagine the possibility of the last month and a half of games all being played across the country with fans in the stands. The money and well being of the country would be absolutely maximized. This is the real strength of The Plan. With its flexible nature, the schedule could mirror the unpredictable path of COVID-19.
PLAYOFFS (This is where it gets Fun)
In order to preserve the integrity of the American and National leagues, the winningest team in both leagues will be given BYEs for the Wild Card Regional Round. The WCRR would involve in each league the two other Division winners, 3 Wild Card teams and special respect given to 2020’s unique regional format in way of a Regional Wild Card team. Before you roll your eyes, the team that has the best regional record (i.e. best record against teams within its divisional designation) that doesn’t otherwise qualify for the playoffs will get in.
It would provide a fourth WC team for each league and lowest seed. It would also provide the slightest of hedges against high-powered offensive teams pushing back their ace and rolling out a AAA player to face the Marlins. No disrespect to them or their 2 World Series championships…just an example. But say the Marlins win that regional game, and many others similar to it. There will be a couple teams that significantly outperform other teams where it comes to playing other teams in their respective regions.
Games played against other divisions and interleague games already count in division standings, like in any sport. But this would be a great way to stimulate the league and make it more fun for everybody. The regional wild card (RWC, hereafter) would face off in the Regional Wild Card round against the top-seeded division winner, or team with best record. The RWC round would be a best of 5 series.
The 3rd-ranked WC team would play against the other division winner and the top two WC teams would face each other. The three advancing teams would then join the BYE team in the Divisional Series, also best of 5 as usual. The BYE team would have already won the right to face the lowest seed, also per norm. The rest of the playoffs would be carried out as normal with ALCS/NLCS and World Series all being best of 7.
The only area as far as the game being played that should be changed is how we determines strikes and balls. The home plate umpire would need to be moved so far behind the catcher that calling balls and strikes wouldn’t work. For this reason an electronic strike zone would be encouraged. The home plate umpire could hold a device that shows the reading so the umpire would still “call” balls and strikes, despite it really being reporting them. Plays at the plate, like the other umpires on the field would still be called as usual.
The electronic strike zone would be another thing that could be live-tested. This has been talked about for a few years now, anyway. There is no better opportunity to live-test this.
TIME OF GAMES
7-Inning double-headers are an idea that The Plan rejects as unnecessary. A shortened game compromises the game itself. It has been a long time since a game has been called final due to rain after at least 5 complete, but arbitrarily saying “we can play more games if we do some 7-inning games” is not good for the game. Teams would just go to a 3-man rotation and use openers for any games scheduled to go only 7. This is not a good idea.
The killer in baseball (at least it would be in 2020) is going extras. Extra-inning games would still exist, but only an extra inning. If a game is extended due to a tie, if it doesn’t get settled in the 10th, it’s a TIE. Yes, TIE games would be part of The Plan. This, like the electronic strike zone, represents an area that could actually be embraced going forward beyond 2020. Again, this is the year to try out the things that MLB has been kicking around.
The Plan provides a comprehensive solution that offers great potential for salvaging the 2020 MLB season. Major League Baseball, its teams, players and fans alike want the best possible solution to make it all happen. This might not be the best solution, but it makes great financial and logistical sense along with a few twists to make the game more interesting in terms of appeal. Baseball is America’s favorite pastime. It is an avenue to a better life amid changing and uncertain times. The world is watching. It would be so much better if we were watching baseball.
Note: This post was written by John Patterson. He originally posted it on Steemit (jp17) and I am re-posting it with his permission. John is a good friend who loves baseball as much as you and I. He is a die-hard Dodgers fan who currently lives in Italy. Despite his loyalty to Dodger Blue, John has always held great respect for the Yankees over their storied history and was an admirer of the Yankees’ championship run under Derek Jeter, Bernie Williams, Jorge Posada, Andy Pettitte, et al. This post is not about the Yankees or the Dodgers (specifically), but it is genuine plea for how we can get baseball back on the field. I am in full agreement with John and my hope is to see the Yankees back on the field sooner than later, but under the most safest and healthiest options available. Nice job, John!
Photo Credit: Associated Press
Our favorite pastime is sorely missed…
We continue to sit and wait to see if the 2020 MLB baseball season will start or even happen. Unfortunately, the coronavirus continues to increase its grip on the country and many of us wait this out at our homes, with minimal external trips for necessities. We’ve seen the passing of many people who could not overcome the deadly effects of the virus and can only hope things begin to turn around soon.
It was good to see MLB and the Players Union come together for compromise regarding the shortened or possibly lost season. The players maintain service time but that’s certainly the least of the concerns from my perspective as a fan. At the present time, there is a possibility that Mookie Betts never plays a regular season game for the Los Angeles Dodgers. I continue to be cautiously optimistic for a shortened season and do want to see Mookie in Dodger Blue for meaningful games (although simply watching the Yankee pinstripes on a baseball field is more desirable).
Photo Credit: Ray Stubblebine, Reuters
At this point, I don’t think anyone really knows what the 2020 MLB season will look like. I’d like to see them play at least 120 games if possible. The idea of using many double-headers to get in as many games as they can seems to be an invitation to injury in my opinion. There’s talk the rosters will be expanded beyond 26 players, at least at the start of the season, as a hedge against injury but that’s not enough. If they expand to say 28 or 29 players, that’s not really going to help in the long run. I am hopeful for as many games as can be played but mostly within the confines of single games per day.
I know Los Angeles was looking forward to hosting this year’s All-Star Game at Dodger Stadium but it does appear the All-Star Break will be one of the sacrifices in an altered, reduced schedule.
I’ve seen the talk about a two-week mini-Spring Training if/when baseball resumes, but I share Yankee manager Aaron Boone’s opinion teams need more time than that (3 to 4 weeks is more realistic). Where we sit today, it seems June would be the earliest we could potentially see regular season baseball again and that’s assuming things with COVID-19 start to improve soon.
The Yankees were scheduled to play 60 total games from March 26th through the end of May. To get in 120 games would require creative scheduling or an extension of the season deeper into October, possibly pushing the playoffs into November. The thought of Yankees baseball in the Bronx after Halloween is a scary thought if for no other reason than the colder temps. There’s talk of neutral sites. Does that mean we could see the Yankees play “home” games at the Tin Can they call Tropicana Field in St Petersburg, FL? It does make more sense for the Yankees to play alternate home games near their Spring Training home and minor league headquarters than other cities if they can’t play in New York City.
Photo Credit: Reinhold Matay, AP
At this point, anything is purely speculation so we continue to wait and hopefully all of us stay healthy in the meantime.
There was some transaction activity until MLB froze transactions temporarily with this week’s agreement. The Yankees optioned fifth starter candidate Michael King, along with reliever Ben Heller, starter Deivi Garcia and infielder Thairo Estrada to the minors. All, except Garcia who went to Double A Trenton, were assigned to the Scranton/Wilkes-Barre RailRiders.
Not surprised at any of the names, but Estrada’s demotion does point to the success of Tyler Wade making the club as its backup infielder (and on some occasions, outfielder) and maybe even non-roster invitee Rosell Herrera, who opened a few eyes before Spring Training was shut down. I have thought this could be a big breakout year for the speedy Wade so time will tell if he gets the chance. Garcia is clearly not ready yet although his arrival looms on the horizon. King and Heller are two guys that I thought had legitimate chances to make the Opening Day roster. But the longer the delay goes on, the better the chance James Paxton is ready to join the starting rotation. Under that scenario, Jordan Montgomery moves from fourth to fifth starter which eliminates the immediate need for King. I’ve long admired Heller but I know, like Monty, he is working his way back from Tommy John surgery and it probably makes more sense to have him continue his work at Triple A until he proves he is ready to be an answer in the bullpen. Realistically, I think we’ll see all four of these players at the Major League level at some point during the season but that’s not exactly a bold prediction.
With starting pitchers Chris Sale and Noah Syndergaard opting for Tommy John surgery, it makes you wonder who is next. Granted, I am not a fan of the Red Sox or the Mets, but I hope both guys have successful surgeries with full recovery to good health. I respect both pitchers and I look forward to their respective returns to top form.
Moving off-topic to football, it is going to be very weird to see Tom Brady performing as the quarterback for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. I don’t like the New England Patriots but the thought of Brady in anything other than a Patriots uniform seems wrong. As a Vikings fan, I got to see hated rival Brett Favre suit up in purple and gold but that’s not the same since Favre, a great quarterback, is not on the same level as Brady who will go down as one of the greatest to ever play the position, if not the greatest. I am not convinced Brady will see the same level of success with the Bucs and it’s kind of sad to see him go out as anything but the best. I had hoped he would come to Los Angeles to play for the Chargers, but the Californian opted for the “home” city of the Yankees, playing next to Steinbrenner Field.
NFL free agency has not been kind to my team, the Minnesota Vikings. The defensive backfield has been decimated by the departures of Xavier Rhodes (Colts), Trae Waynes (Bengals) and Mackenzie Alexander (Bengals). He is not the player he once was but the Cleveland Browns signed Andrew Sendejo. The Vikings placed the franchise tag on Anthony Harris, but his name continues to come up in potential trades. The defensive backfield is going to look substantially different this year, although I am glad All-Star safety Harrison Smith remains in place. He’ll need Holton Hill, Mike Hughes, and Kris Boyd to step up and whomever else the Vikings decide to bring in through free agency and the draft.
The Vikings’ receiving corps will also look different with the trade of Stefon Diggs to the Buffalo Bills. While I will miss the talent Diggs brought to the field, I won’t miss the drama that came with him. He’ll forever be immortalized in Minnesota for the famed Minneapolis Miracle catch a few seasons ago against the New Orleans Saints in the playoffs, but life moves on. Former Tennessee Titans wide receiver Tajaé Sharpe joins the team in a bid to secure the second receiver role behind the team’s premier receiver, Adam Thielen. The 25-year-old New Jersey native had 25 catches last year for the Titans, accumulating 329 yards and scoring four touchdowns. I didn’t know much about him prior to this year, but I am excited for him to compete with the other young receivers on the Vikings roster. Ironically, Sharpe made his NFL debut in 2016 against the Vikings, grabbing 7 passes for 76 yards. Fortunately, the Vikings won the game, but I’m fine if Sharpe wants to keep up that production when there are Vikings on the field.
Photo Credit: USA TODAY Sports
Although the decision for the NFL Draft to proceed as scheduled next month is highly controversial, I am glad they’ll do it. We need the distraction and the return of Sports in any capacity is much appreciated.
I thought I had seen my last snow in Colorado but it was not to be. The ground, as I type this post, is covered with the white stuff. This, I think, is the last. I know Colorado weather is so fickle but it does appear temps will be slightly better for the coming days. Still not crazy about moving during this crazy (and unhealthy) time but I will do my best to stay safe. I am looking forward to my new home and the end to Winter as I presently know it. Kind of funny to think that today I need a heavy coat to go outside but will be wearing shorts in a couple of weeks.
Stay safe and healthy.
As always, Go Yankees!
Baseball Stadiums remain shuttered…
I type this as all of us, or most of us, are locked in the four walls of our homes. The COVID-19 pandemic has certainly had a very great impact on everyone and I am hopeful that we’ll get to the point where the worst is behind us. Sadly, it does not appear we’re there yet. I look forward to days of easily buying toilet paper again.
I don’t know about you but this is about as disconnected from Yankees baseball as I’ve ever felt. This includes times of player lockouts and strikes when we knew a return could happen quickly unlike the current situation.
Although MLB Network is gladly showing replays of Mark “The Bird” Fidrych beating the Yankees with his famed mound antics in 1976 or listening to David Cone and Lou Piniella talk about the Mariners 1995 playoff win against everybody’s favorite team, it’s just not the same. I think watching one of those old classic games reminded me that I had forgotten Rawley Eastwick once pitched for the Yankees (he was the winning pitcher in the Phillies’ thrilling 23-22 victory over the Cubs in 1979 but had briefly played in the Bronx a couple seasons earlier). This is all too much information for me to know. I’d rather be talking about Aaron Judge or Gerrit Cole or Gleyber Torres.
Speaking of Judge, I was surprised to hear that he has also dealt with a collapsed lung (what?) that has since healed. As if the stress fracture in his right first rib was not enough. As for the stress fracture, it sounds like there has been some improvement but not enough to give him medical clearance so it continues to be wait and see. Hopefully this forced exile from baseball will allow him to return to health when the players can actually resume organized activities on the field. I am a little worried that injuries and Judge will go hand in hand for the years ahead and really hope that’s not the case.
It is weird to think that Aaron Hicks, Giancarlo Stanton, and James Paxton could all be available for “Opening Day” depending upon when that is. I saw Trevor Bauer’s comment that it would take him three to four weeks to get ready for regular season baseball which sounds about right to me. Those who say two weeks after a long layoff are kidding themselves and it would expose the players to unnecessary risk for injury by trying to get ready too quickly.
I think we are realistically looking at the All-Star Break or just before for the players to start the regular season as it seems we are still a long way from the resumption of baseball activities. I don’t see how MLB could possibly play 162 games at this point, and it seems more probable to go with a schedule of only about 108 games, give or take, based on the actual return date. I wouldn’t want to see baseball being played in December. It’s unfortunate in what should have been a probable World Series year for the Yankees that they’ll encounter a shorter season that could benefit other teams’ chances.
I may not be a Red Sox fan but I was sad to hear that Chris Sale needs Tommy John surgery. It is not something I’d wish upon anyone, but for Sale’s sake, he is able to make a full and healthy recovery to restore his status as one of the game’s best. I know the last few years have been frustrating for Red Sox fans as Sale has dealt with injuries, but hopefully this is the cure to his ailments and he’ll return as strong as ever. That’s certainly my hope for Luis Severino (if not more so because he is a Yankee). For Sale, it’s probable he won’t be back and ready until the 2022 season. I suppose late 2021 is possible but in my opinion unlikely given it is late March already.
In the midst of this coronavirus pandemic, I am dealing with a move that will take me from Colorado to California. I was too deep into the move to turn back when the pandemic set in. Not looking forward to moving in the current climate but there’s not really much I can do about it. My new home is near Angel Stadium in Anaheim.I had tickets to see all three games between the Yankees and Angels over Memorial Day Weekend which I fully expect to be cancelled or postponed. Sitting in Denver, we got socked with a major winter storm on Thursday (Winter’s way of letting me know I am not out of the woods yet). Hopefully the warmer expected weather over the next week removes signs of the latest snowfall. If all goes well, it will be the last of snow for me for a very long time. If I want to see snow, I’ll go to it. It doesn’t need to come visit me.
I would have preferred to live closer to Dodger Stadium but I had no desire to deal with a two-hour one-way commute to/from work. I’ll just consider myself ‘Los Angeles Scott of Anaheim’. It seems to work for the Angels. No doubt I’ll be taking the train (and a bus trip via the Dodger Express) to see games in Chavez Ravine. But, also, I have plans to attend a few non-Yankee games at Angel Stadium over the course of the summer when/if baseball returns. It will be fun to finally watch Mike Trout play in person. No doubt I’ll be pulling for the Angels when they play a team like the Texas Rangers or any of the Yankees’ AL East Rivals or that trash team in South Texas.
I didn’t have much to write about today but wanted to get a few words out to everyone to express my hope you are staying healthy in this very trying time or if you are not doing well, I wish you a speedy and full recovery. The Yankees Family is exactly that, a true family. We care about each and every one of you, and without you, there is no us. Be well.
As always, Go Yankees!
Photo Credit: Seth Wenig, AP
Despite injuries, Yankees are very good…
The talk about the Yankees having the best starting rotation in baseball sure ended quickly. It was disappointing to lose Luis Severino for the season when his forearm tightness led to Thursday’s Tommy John surgery. We’ll be left to wonder what could have been.
I had really been excited to see what Sevy could do as the second best starter on the staff but now that job falls to Masahiro Tanaka (or James Paxton when he returns). I like Masa and Pax but they are clearly a step down from Sevy’s potential. Oh well, injuries are a part of life and although the Yankees always seem to have more than their share, Sevy is not going to be the last good pitcher in the Major Leagues to go down for Tommy John surgery this year. There will be a time with Gerrit Cole and Sevy pair to give the Yankees a fantastic tandem but for now, we move on.
While I had hoped the Yankees would acquire a good veteran starter (and probably still do), I get the excitement about the Yankees’ younger arms. I am glad, for now, the Yankees retained J.A. Happ. He had been the guy I wanted the Yankees to trade all winter (to clear out his salary), but he clearly becomes an important part of the rotation. His talk about wanting to stay with the Yankees certainly played a part in my change of opinion, but the bigger factor was his off-season work to make adjustments and the involvement of Sam Briend, the Yankees’ Director of Pitching, Driveline to help Happ become a better version of himself. I’d love to have a replay of late 2018 season Happ or the guy who won 20 games in 2016.
Photo Credit: Rich Schultz, AP
Even though the Yankees haven’t handed a starting spot to Jordan Montgomery, I think all of us believe he is ready to return and play a big role for this team.
So it leaves one spot open in the rotation until Paxton returns. Admittedly, I’ve been seduced by the arm of Clarke Schmidt, like everyone else, but considering he does not currently have a spot on the 40-man roster and has only pitched three games in Double A, I can’t see him breaking camp and heading to Baltimore next month. No doubt we’ll see Schmidt at some point this year, but I think it will be later this summer. Everybody loves to talk about Deivi Garcia and Jonathan Loaisiga but Michael King is the guy I’d like to see as the fifth starter to open the season. He is a brilliant strategist who embraced Driveline before Sam Briend joined the Yankees, and there’s part of his makeup that reminds me of David Cone. Who knows if he can have a Cone-like career, but I think he can be a good Major League pitcher. He may not have the front of the rotation potential like Schmidt but he doesn’t have to be to help the Yankees win.
Photo Credit: Frank Franklin II, AP
Maybe Garcia is ready now. If the Yankees feel he is, then I obviously would support the decision so I rate him as my second choice. I personally think he needs a little more time in the minors for his MLB preparation, but there’s no denying the talent of his arm.
Loaisiga scares me as a starter if for no other reason than his injury history. I see him as an effective bullpen weapon and that’s where I’d like to see him stay.
If Chad Bettis or Nick Tropeano win the fifth spot, I’ll be disappointed. I feel bad. Bettis has overcome so much to get here. I know the Colorado Rockies fans, having lived in Denver the last four years, really like and admire Bettis. Tropeano is a New York kid who is getting a chance to play for the primary local team. Nevertheless, I do not see the upside play in either Bettis or Tropeano and would rather take a chance on one of the younger arms.
Listening to CC Sabathia’s podcast this week, it was sad to hear Sonny Gray talk about the inability of the Yankees to help him. With the disclaimers both CC and Sonny gave about really liking former Yankees pitching coach Larry Rothschild, it was interesting to listen to them say Larry didn’t really have any answers. I guess I didn’t really understand how “behind” the Yankees were in current analytics and what drove the massive overhaul this past-offseason. I was dumping on Sonny Gray as much as anyone while he was a Yankee, but in retrospect, it would have been interesting to see what the Yankees current array of pitching coaches could have done with him.
I am not sure what to think about Giancarlo Stanton’s latest injury (calf) that will delay his start to the 2020 season. I am not ready to say he is ‘Jacoby Ellsbury Revisited’ but the injuries are disappointing. I am not going to blame Giancarlo for the injuries. They happen. But at this point, his contract looks like a sunk cost. If you could go back in time, there’s no doubt Brian Cashman should have snagged Christian Yelich instead of Stanton. I remain hopeful Stanton can overcome these annoying injuries and be the player he was in 2017 when he won the NL MVP Award or in 2018 when he hit 38 homers for the Yankees. Yet, playing him anywhere except DH seems like a major risk at this point. We’ll see. For now I just hope he’s healthy soon and back on the field or rather the batter’s box.
This is a great opportunity for Clint Frazier to finally prove he belongs, but I am probably most excited about the limited work in left field by Miguel Andujar. With third base occupied by Gio Urshela, it would be fantastic to see Miggy grab left field for his own. Mike Tauchman will play a role but he’ll need to help Brett Gardner in center. I know many people would love to move Miggy for a quality starting pitcher and maybe I’ve been one of them, but with Stanton out, I want Andujar’s bat in the lineup. Last year, we had the Parrot. This year, we can have the Helicopter (a hat tip to Miggy’s swing). As for Frazier, if he doesn’t make the team, I’d rather see the Yankees trade him than send him back down to Scranton/Wilkes-Barre. He really has nothing more to prove in the minor leagues. Love him or hate him, I’d like to see him get a big league opportunity even if it isn’t with the Yankees.
It’s funny how ex-Yankees always grow facial hair immediately after leaving the Yankees. Watching the Padres on MLB Network last night, it was weird seeing Larry Rothschild in San Diego’s dugout with a beard. I didn’t take a pic but thankfully James Kelly of ESNY did:
Photo Credit: James Kelly, ESNY, via Twitter @jkellyESNY
I had caught Detroit’s game earlier in the day and Tigers catcher Austin Romine looks so different with his Civil War-like beard.
You kind of half expect Didi Gregorius to throw the razor away.
With the fan uproar when the Yankees started the exhibition season with a couple of losses, I really hope the Yankees avoid a sluggish start to the regular season. Frankly, I didn’t care if the Yankees lost all of their 33 spring games so long as the players got the necessary work to get ready for the season. There are no trophies awarded for the best Spring record. It’s nice to see the team win like they have the last few days but in the grand scheme of things, it doesn’t really mean anything. The pitchers are experimenting and not offering their full array of pitches and strategy. It’s more about readiness to play at the game’s highest level for an extended period over the course of a long season. But if the Yankees lose a few games in late March to the lowly Baltimore Orioles, there’s no doubt the Yankee fans will be on the ledge. I feel bad for Gerrit Cole when he gives up his first home run. Let’s embrace this team. Even with the injuries, they still have the potential to be the best of the American League with an excellent chance to have a dinner date with the NL representative in October. As they say, don’t sweat the small stuff. There will be bumps along the way, but we’ll be there in the end.
Photo Credit: USA TODAY Sports
It’s a good time to be a Yankees fan.
As always, Go Yankees!