|Photo Credit: AP|
Continued waiting game for possible MLB Season…
I had been hopeful MLB would resolve the plan to return for the 2020 season by now but so far, it’s been a stand-off. Meanwhile, the NBA and NHL in what seemed to be peaceful and easy negotiations from afar, are preparing for their modified seasons.
I thought the proposal by the players association for a 114-game season was a bit aggressive with October seemingly right around the corner, but the owners’ idea of a 48 to 54 game season makes even less sense. Personally, as much as I would like 100 games, a season of 82 games seems reasonable and possible if we can get Spring Training restarted soon. Probably the one thing I do not like about the NBA’s plans is the season extending to December 1st which delays the start of their 2021 season. I’d rather see season modifications made for this year, without impacting next. If MLB is still playing baseball in December, next season would have to be delayed. Honestly, the thought of baseball past Halloween is bone-chillingly cold.
It seems like in what could have been (should have been?) a championship year for the Yankees, we’ll somehow get cheated out of watching this talented team perform at its highest level. A random team will get hot and ride it to short season success. No doubt a reduced schedule will help teams like the Boston Red Sox as their flaws can be masked over a shorter collection of games. The cheaters win again. However this season plays out, I am ready to begin and finish it so that we can move on to, hopefully, 162 regular season games next year. 2020, despite the numbers, has not been a good year to see clearly.
I do think the longer this drags out, the more I am in favor of scraping the entire season. I never thought I’d say that, but I am tired of the MLB owners using their own self-serving agendas in an attempt to get far-reaching concessions from the players. I know the players may be guilty of their own selfishness but if the two sides wanted to play baseball as soon as possible, it would happen…particularly the greedy owners.
I know it’s easier for the NBA and NHL to put together plans for their respective post-season schedules since they’ve both already played the bulk of their regular season games this year whereas MLB is just trying to get started. That’s a big difference and surely accounts for some of the delay in the two sides coming together for the greater good. I think what bothers me more is that a labor dispute is right around the corner when the current collective bargaining agreement expires after the 2021 season. There is potential for more disruptions in play regardless of what happens this season. The next couple of years are going to be rocky. I wish MLB had a better, stronger commissioner in place than Rob Manfred. As they say, it is the difficult times that define us. Manfred faces the biggest challenges that have been encountered by his office in years. Good or bad, he will be remembered for how he handles this path and the success (or lack thereof) emerging from his choices and decisions.
|Photo Credit: John Raoux, AP|
I think there is still some optimism for a 2020 season but honestly I think it’s anybody’s guess. This could easily go either way. You’d think eventually the almighty dollar would be the winner for bringing back baseball but when you have billions like a many of the MLB owners, it’s easy to move on to other play things.
Thinking about a potential season, I know I am, like many, anxious and excited to see Gerrit Cole in Pinstripes but I am equally excited to see the potential of young players who will get their first significant opportunities for the Show, like Michael King, Deivi Garcia, and others.
I can still remember when Don Mattingly was in the minors and referred to as “just a singles hitter”. The excitement of opportunity and changing perceptions is the beautiful aspect of our favorite sport. Mike Ford surprised many people last year. Going into the season, it appeared he was just another name on a long list of prospects that would probably need a change of scenery for any hope to accomplish his Major League dreams. A Ryan McBroom type of dump on the Kansas City Royals (no disrespect to McBroom…just making the point that the door of opportunity never opened for him at Yankee Stadium). I want to see what Ford can do now that his stock has been raised in the eyes of the Yankees. I like the current combo of Ford and Luke Voit, certainly more so than the previous Voit/Greg Bird duo. I liked Bird but you couldn’t trust him to stay healthy. Ford seems more durable. They may not be Mattingly, Tino Martinez, Jason Giambi or Mark Teixeira, but they can be World Series champions.
|Photo Credit: AP|
Is Gio Urshela for real? This remains a valid question. I am glad the roster includes Miguel Andujar, defensive shortcomings and all, as a fallback plan if Urshela proves to be a one season wonder. Ideally, I hope Gio builds upon last season and is even better, with greater consistency, this season. There’s a role for Andujar on this team regardless of what happens with Gio.
If I have one big concern, it has to be the mystery of Aaron Judge’s health. We really need Giancarlo Stanton to stay healthy so that he can be the monster bat if Judge is not ready for whatever reason. It seems weird that I am more concerned about Judge’s health than Stanton’s but it is what it is. I think Judge is such an important part of the team and I don’t want to see injuries derail his luster in the Bronx and lead to an eventual premature exit. For Stanton, I would just like to see a strong beginning to end with no or minimal time on the DL. I may be asking for a lot but the lineup is better with one or both of these guys in it.
While I think Aaron Boone has really grown into a great manager, I am interested in seeing how the dynamics of a new bench coach play out with Carlos Mendoza taking over for the departed Josh Bard. We didn’t really get to see much of the relationship during the shortened Spring Training in late February and early March. I am excited for Mendy and I think he’ll be successful in his new role. He certainly has the command and respect of the players. A bench coach is a bit of an unsung role but the power of in-game decisions is hugely important and Boonie needs as much input as possible to make the best possible decisions. I know Bard is a smart guy but from the outside looking in, Mendy seems to be more of a players coach. I could be wrong on that one since I don’t have any insight into the relationships but from my outside view, there seems to be better trust in the new bench coach.
Lastly, but most importantly…
|Photo Credit: Adam Berry, Getty Images|
This week has been a very challenging time for our Nation. I am not a political person and I don’t want to use the blog as a soap box, but I would be remiss for not saying anything. I believe George Floyd was a good man and I believe his death was wrong, so very wrong. I am grateful his killer has been charged with second degree murder but I want more, I want a conviction with the maximum sentence. I am glad his accomplices, the other Minneapolis police officers who stood by doing nothing, have also been charged.
Too many men and women have died unfairly for the color of their skin. White supremacy or privilege must end. We are all people with genuine feelings and emotions who love our friends and family. We’re all capable of accomplishing great things in this world and making it a better place for our children. I support the peaceful protests staged around the country, while separating the looting and violence as acts of ignorance and greed. I tend to be an eternal optimist but I hope the tragedy that befell George Floyd can be used to exact the necessary change from our country to make this a safer world for everyone and eliminate racial injustice forevermore. The realist in me knows this will be an ongoing fight but I truly hope we can make positive advances in the right direction and the end of wrongful injuries and death and police brutality are near. When we’re dead and gone, we’ll just be a collection of bones or ashes. The time to make a difference is now. Together, we can bring unity to the United States and make this a better place for everyone.
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!
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!
Photo Credit: Getty Images
New Decade: Great Hope for Pinstripes…
It’s been an interesting year. When January opened, many of us (okay, namely me) wanted the Yankees to sign either Manny Machado or Bryce Harper. The thought of ‘excite the Fan Base, Hal Steinbrenner’ keep reverberating through my head. On January 14th, the Yankees signed free agent second baseman D.J. LeMahieu, and the Yankees, for all intents and purposes, were out of the Harp-Chado Sweepstakes. The signing of the former Colorado Rockies second baseman was met with general indifference from the Yankees fan base, but it would prove to be a much bigger acquisition than Machado would be for San Diego or Harper for Philly. Both of those teams did so well with their new $300+ million men that they fired their managers. LeMahieu’s manager wasn’t the AL Manager of the Year but he should have been.
Photo Credit: Tim Heitman, USA TODAY Sports
By now, we know the Yankees won 103 games during the regular season despite a historic number of men (30) who found their way to the Injured List. The ALDS was a success against the homer happy Minnesota Twins, but the season came to an abrupt end in the ALCS playing against a team that subscribes to the theory ‘if you’re not cheating, you’re not trying’. Okay, that’s a Jim Rome quote but it fits the eventual AL Champions and then some. Someone bang on a garage can for the Houston Astros.
I keep hearing the reason the Yankees failed in the ALCS was because of the hitters. In the playoffs, you face the best of the best. No team is throwing a #5 starter at you to see if they can beat you. With Houston, they had three aces. Justin Verlander, Gerrit Cole and Zack Greinke. There’s a reason the Yankees couldn’t buy a hit when they needed it. Fortunately, the Yankees, after the season was over, recognized the primary goal of this off-season was to get an ace.
James Paxton, after a rough start (it seemed like the first inning was never his friend for the longest time), settled into his role as the best Yankees pitcher. I like Paxton a lot but he is not an ace. While he can be, he is more of a #2. I’ve seen countless people post on Social Media that Luis Severino is an ace. He’s not but can be (maybe even more so than Paxton). Sevy needs to prove it over the course of a long season. Consistency and good health are the two primary ingredients needed before Sevy can call himself an ace. The potential is there but it has yet to be realized. Masahiro Tanaka can be very good but he’s not an ace. The regular season is filled with those dang obligatory homers. Once the playoffs start, he pitches with laser-like focus and like Andy Pettitte, is a man you want on the mound in October. Three very good pitchers, but no current ace among them.
The problem was solved on December 18th, ten days ago, when the Yankees officially signed Gerrit Cole to the largest pitching contract in MLB history (9 years for $324 million). If the opt out after 5 years is exercised, the Yankees can add an additional year to the deal, making it worth $360 million. I’d say that Hal Steinbrenner has excited the Yankees fan base. With an ace, the Yankees suddenly have one of the best starting rotations in baseball after seasons where the rotation was viewed as the primary weakness. Weakening the lying, cheating Houston Astros was an added bonus.
Photo Credit: AP
The cautionary tale is the Boston Red Sox. A couple of years ago, Sox fans were beating their chests over a starting rotation headlined by Chris Sale, David Price, and Rick Porcello. Porcello is now a Met, Price’s name is regularly among trade rumors as a potential salary dump and Sale can’t stay healthy. If the Yankees have an advantage over the Red Sox, it is a much deeper farm system with talented young pitching prospects to provide a hedge. The Cleveland Indians have proven an ability to grow aces on trees, and of course, the Yankees now have one of those architects on the coaching staff with Matt Blake as the new pitching coach. To Boston’s credit, they have a World Series championship to show for their collection of starters and the Yankees have not. But if I had to place a bet on which team would win more World Series in the next five years, I can assure you it would not be Boston. If the Yankees can bring the World Series championship total to at least 30 over the next decade, I’d call Cole’s contract a smashing success and those Red Sox championships of 2004, 2007, 2013 and 2018 will be nothing but a forgotten memory.
Even though 2019 did not bring a championship to the Bronx, it has set the stage for a very strong Yankees squad in 2020. A more complete team that is ready to take the next step. Even though 2010-19 is the first decade in a century that did not feature at least one World Series appearance by the Yankees, it figures to change in 2020-29 with restoration of appearances AND victories.
I look forward to 2020 with great optimism and I know it will be a great year for the Yankees and all their fans.
Photo Credit: Getty Images
In other news, the fan-created trade speculation for Josh Hader continues. Yet, not one reputable baseball writer with genuine sources has indicated the Yankees are close on any trades. Miguel Andujar’s name keeps getting mentioned by fans as expendable. As much as I love Gio Urshela’s glove at third base, I am fearful about a regression in Gio’s offense after last year’s breakout. The Yankees need Andujar. I know his defense is often criticized, but moving D.J. LeMahieu from second to third would force the Yankees to use Tyler Wade or Thairo Estrada at second. I’d rather keep LeMahieu, an elite defender, at second, and use Andujar at third if Gio fails. I wouldn’t be so quick to trade him. Andujar also has the potential to see some time at first and perhaps in left field with additional work in the Spring. He is trying to get better defensively and his workout videos show a man who is trying to improve his game. Personally, I wouldn’t trade Andujar for a reliever regardless of how good the reliever is. Third base is simply not a position of strength in the farm system and Urshela, as I’ve mentioned, is no sure thing.
The latest name circulating among the Twitter GM’s is Nick Castellanos. Castellanos may be a good hitter but where does he fit on the Yankees? The Detroit Tigers moved him off third base because of subpar defensive skills. I’d rather have Giancarlo Stanton, Brett Garder, and Mike Tauchman in left field. Castanellos, who became a right fielder, cannot play center and he’s certainly not going to take Aaron Judge’s spot in right. Make him a DH? It wouldn’t allow the Yankees to maximize the potential of the DH slot with the rotation of great hitters already on the team. I see no fit for Castanellos on the Yankees roster. The bat’s nice but it is not enough to make his addition a roster upgrade. In fact, you could argue it would be a detriment because of the lineup inflexibility it would cause. Personally, I like Joc Pederson, a left-handed hitter, and think he’d fit better on the roster if the Yankees could swing a trade with the Los Angeles Dodgers. I’d love to see Joc taking his shots at Yankee Stadium’s short right porch. He may be a platoon bat to face right-handed pitching but he’d mesh well with the other Yankee outfielders or at least better than Castellanos would. Steamer has projected Joc to hit 31 home runs and 76 RBIs in 2020 with .255/.345/.537 batting line and .364 wOBA and 129 wRC+ in approximately 500 plate appearances. Unlike Castanellos, Pederson is a solid defender.
It’s always nice to see the calendar page turn to January. The last full month with no Yankees baseball. There could still be a surprise addition or two before pitchers and catchers report to camp on February 12th. It continues to be speculation the Yankees will unload J.A. Happ’s contract (all or part) to reduce luxury tax penalties. I, for one, look forward to seeing how Jordan Montgomery will do in Spring Training even if he’ll be on an innings limitation this year. With no expectation to be more than the fifth starter, I think Monty could serve the role well. I think we’ll begin to see the work of Sam Briend, Director of Pitching for the Yankees, come to fruition. With guys like Briend and Matt Blake, the organization’s great young pitching talent will only get better. Soon, we’ll be growing our own Mike Clevingers and Shane Biebers.
Happy New Year, Everybody! From all of us to all of you, we hope this is your (our) best year yet. Hopefully this time next year we’ll be relishing in the Yankees’ 28th World Series Championship.
As always, Go Yankees!
Photo Credit: Instagram @dellinbetances68
Reliever Signs with the NY Mets…
First of all and most importantly, MERRY CHRISTMAS!
That’s not meant to be a tie-in with the title of this post. Yesterday certainly was not a fun day for most Yankee fans. I wrote a post yesterday morning before the news broke and was still writing my hope for the Yankees to sign Dellin Betances. Sadly, it was not meant to be and he is now a member of the despised crosstown Mets.
Photo Credit: Adam Hunger, Getty Images
I am disappointed, without a doubt, but there was never any indication the Yankees were going to try to bring him back. It hurts a little that both Didi Gregorius and Betances left for one-year deals. It seems like the Yankees could have matched those offers without breaking the bank. Betances’ contract has a player option for 2021 and a team option for 2022, but if he pitches like we know he can, he’ll most likely decline the player option. For 2020, Betances will receive a signing bonus of $5.3 million and a salary of $2.2 million. The player option is worth $6 million for 2021, but if he declines, he’ll receive a $3 million buyout. It’s not smooth sailing next off-season for Betances if he does decline the option, the Mets could apply the qualifying offer which would cause some market resistance.
Oh well, he’s gone. Social media was littered with disparaging remarks by Yankee fans about Betances yesterday. Regardless of the reason(s) the Yankees chose not to aggressively try to retain Betances, he was a great Yankee. I felt he was one that I wanted to see stay in Pinstripes for the duration of his career. Frankly, I would have rather kept Betances and let Brett Gardner walk, primarily because I feel good outfielders are easier to come by than elite relievers. If you believe that Betances has seen his better days, then the Yankees were right to let him go. Although I will never root for the Mets, I hope Betances is able to regain his prime form. He’ll be 32 next season, and this, potentially, is his last chance for a big payday. If Edwin Diaz is able to rebound from his disastrous 2019 and pitch like the elite closer he was with the Seattle Mariners in 2018, the Mets will have a very strong back end of their bullpen. Seth Lugo figures to join the mix making it a formidable group.
For Dellin, he gets to stay in New York City. As a native New Yorker, this is huge for him and his family. I probably would have preferred to see him join Didi Gregorius and Joe Girardi in Philadelphia but that would have meant uprooting his family and moving a few hours down I-95. So for Dellin’s sake, since he wanted to stay in NYC, I am glad he was able to. He’ll get to pitch for his friend and former teammate, new Mets manager Carlos Beltran.
For his 8-year Yankees career, Dellin finished 21-22 with 2.36 ERA and 36 saves. In 381 2/3 innings, he struck out 621 batters. He pitched in 358 games after making his debut during the 2011 season. He’ll be missed, but we move on.
The Yankees bullpen remains among the very best with Aroldis Chapman, Zack Britton, Adam Ottavino, and Tommy Kahnle. I’d say the group did fine in 2019 without Betances so there’s no reason to believe this group can’t be better in 2020 with baseball’s best starter sitting atop the rotation. With five effective starting pitchers, the Yankees will make less use of an opener in 2020 so it means Chad Green can return to the later stages of games. With more rest and options available to him, Aaron Boone can maximize the potential of the bullpen to its fullest capabilities.
Photo Credit: Thomas A Ferrera, Newsday
Among Yankee fans, speculation immediately centered on the Yankees “have to” acquire Josh Hader and saying maybe that was the end game. I don’t feel the Yankees have to make any moves. Sure, it would be nice to add another effective, elite reliever but I am not going to buy into the Josh Hader hype. As we all know, when Brian Cashman moves, he moves quietly and swiftly. There’s been too much noise around Hader which makes me believe this is purely fan speculation run wild. Maybe Cashman does pull off a Hader trade, but the cost will be very high. Contrary to fan belief, we can’t just dump excess baggage on Milwaukee and call it a day. They’ll want players of significant value for their premier reliever who has four years of control remaining…if they choose to deal him at all.
Ken Giles was mentioned as a trade target last summer when it was reported the Yankees and Toronto Blue Jays did have talks at the trading deadline which almost brought Giles to the Bronx. The Yankees could revisit those talks, however, I am leery of giving Toronto anything of value. With their young core and improving starting rotation, they’ll be making some noise in the AL East in upcoming years. The last thing I’d want to see is former Yankees helping lead the charge.
This probably makes Cleveland’s Brad Hand the most attractive option, in my opinion. If the Indians were to deal Francisco Lindor, it would be a clear signal they are entering rebuilding mode after the earlier trade which sent Corey Kluber to the Texas Rangers. At that point, Hand would seemingly become expendable, and from a trade standpoint, would be more reasonably priced than Hader.
Photo Credit: Aaron Joseczyk, UPI
Other names that have been mentioned include Mychal Givens of the Baltimore Orioles and Tim Hill of the Kansas City Royals.
Regardless of what happens, the Yankees will be alright. Ben Heller is healthy and ready to show he belongs in the Yankee bullpen. I am optimistic for a rebound by Jonathan Holder. I think Jonathan Loaisiga, if he stays healthy, has a chance to be a very good reliever. Luis Cessa was better last year and could continue to improve. Let’s give Brian Cashman time to round out the bullpen. He has 49 days until pitchers and catchers report to Tampa. That’s not a hard stop but I have no doubt the best possible 25 men will take the field for the New York Yankees when they open the regular season on March 26th at Camden Yards against the Baltimore Orioles.
Enjoy your Christmas! We can worry about Yankees baseball tomorrow.
As always, Go Yankees!
Photo Credit: Mike Stobe, Getty Images
Gerrit Cole is a Yankee…
Sorry, but typing those words does not get old. This was quite the week with the brilliant introduction of Gerrit Cole at Yankee Stadium on Wednesday. Brian Cashman, Aaron Boone, and particularly Gerrit Cole said all the right things. “Pressure is a privilege” will certainly become as much a part of our Yankee lingo as “Savages in the box”. Yankee fans especially liked Cole’s words “I’m here. I’ve always been here” while pulling out the 18-year-old sign from Game 6 of the 2001 World Series in Phoenix which featured the words ‘YANKEE FAN TODAY, TOMORROW, FOREVER’.
Photo Credit: Danielle Parhizkaran, USA TODAY Sports
People seemed to dissect whether the sign was the original or not. Not that it really matters one way or the other, but I think it was the faded original. The point is a one-time young Yankee fan achieved his dream of playing for his favorite childhood team. A child who would grow up to be among the best in his profession.
I’ve been looking for Hal Steinbrenner to excite the Yankees fan base for a few years and he certainly delivered this month. Of course, no sooner than the press conference was over, Yankee fans were calling for Steinbrenner to trade top prospect Jasson Dominguez to Cleveland for Francisco Lindor. As great as it would be to have Lindor in the Yankees lineup, it is not happening. If the Indians do trade their ultra-talented shortstop, it’s more likely he’d go to a team in the National League like the Los Angeles Dodgers. Lindor is scheduled to make $16.7 million in 2020 with one more year of arbitration until he becomes a free agent. The Yankees are trying to unload J.A. Happ to get his $17 million off the books to help the team get below the third luxury tax tier. As great as Lindor is, I don’t see the Yankees staying above the third tier. Without Lindor, many are already saying the Yankees are the favorites to win the 2020 World Series. I am not a prospect-hugger but I don’t want to trade Dominguez. There are countless prospects overflowing with elite potential who never made it to the Show but still, I’d rather take my chances on a seemingly count-miss prospect like Dominguez even if he eventually flames out. He has a chance to be something special and I’d prefer to see it in a Yankees uniform.
@jassondominguez_7 via Instagram
For me, the only work that needs to be done is bringing in depth at certain positions. I’d like to see the addition of an infielder that can cover second and short to compete with Tyler Wade and Thairo Estrada in Spring Training. A left-handed hitter would be nice. He can’t play short, but someone like Travis Shaw and his ability to play all infield positions except catcher and shortstop seems to make good sense. Wade, as the backup shortstop, could play a valuable role on the bench with his speed and positional flexibility.
As much as I like Lindor, I think the one player I’d target if I owned the Yankees would be Colorado Rockies third baseman Nolan Arenado. The Rockies are apparently considering offers since they’re entering a rebuild situation. Financially-speaking, I don’t think the Yankees would take on his contract, but to me, there’s a greater need for a guy like Nolan at third base than there is for Lindor at short. I know, putting Lindor at short would allow Gleyber Torres to stay at second, and D.J. LeMahieu to remain as the Utility Man Extraordinaire. But to add an elite bat and glove at third base carries great value. With no disrespect to Gio Urshela or Miguel Andujar, neither is on the same level as Arenado as a complete premier player. Nevertheless, I do not see the Yankees bringing in any more “big” names this off-season.
I was surprised the Cleveland Indians finally traded Corey Kluber after years of speculation. Their return from the Texas Rangers seemed a bit light (outfielder Delino DeShields, Jr and hard-throwing reliever Emmanuel Clase). I don’t really feel bad the Yankees missed out on him. He’ll be 34 in April, and he missed most of last year due to injury. Going to Texas represents a homecoming of sorts for Kluber as he went to high school in Coppell, Texas, a suburb of Dallas. At some point soon, perhaps, he’ll be entering the decline phase of his career. Maybe he has resurgence in Texas like Justin Verlander did, but then again, maybe not. I’d prefer younger players to help keep the Yankees’ current championship window open. If the Yankees had missed out on Cole, then maybe Kluber would have been a great option. Heading into the season, I have no qualms about a rotation featuring Cole, Luis Severino, James Paxton, Masahiro Tanaka, and Jordan Montgomery. I do feel Happ will be traded so I didn’t include his name, and although I think Montgomery will be on an innings limit, we have guys like Deivi Garcia and Michael King ready to step in at some point next season. I could see the Yankees bringing in a veteran starter on a minor league contract with an invitation to Spring Training. Or Brian Cashman making a trade for a young, controllable starter is always an option.
I expected Luke Voit to give up his number 45 to Gerrit Cole but I was surprised Luke went with number 59. On social media, he indicated he will wear the number to honor his brother who went to West Point and was Captain of Army’s football team. Makes sense. 59 has always seemed like a coach’s number to me and that’s who has primarily worn the number in recent years, but no reason that Luke can’t make it his own. Luke has a “football” mentality so it fits his persona.
@lukevoit via Instagram
The excitement for Cole was nearly matched by yesterday’s news the Yankees had parted ways with their director of strength and conditioning, Matt Krause. While I believe it was a necessary change (much like the dismissal of pitching coach Larry Rothschild), I feel bad for Krause, the man. His dismissal most likely happened weeks ago and we’re just now hearing about it, but regardless of when the decision was made, you hate to see anyone lose their job prior to Christmas. People view Krause as the reason for the high number of injuries last year and that’s probably unfair. Krause was the 2017 Professional Strength and Conditioning Coach of the Year and had been employed by the Yankees since 2014. I am all for the change, but I do hope that Krause lands on his feet for his next opportunity. Sadly, he now carries the stigma of 30 men lost to the Injured List in one season, a MLB record. Not exactly something you want on your resume as a specialist in strength and conditioning.
Credit to the Yankees for realizing the changes they needed to make within their infrastructure regarding coaching philosophies and the bright, new talent they’ve brought in with the changing of the guard. New pitching coach Matt Blake may be the face of the change, but this goes much deeper than just him. Yankees Assistant GM Michael Fishman, the analytics guru, is rapidly becoming a major force within the Yankees’ hierarchy. With the news that Assistant GM Jean Afterman is moving to Sonoma, CA for family reasons and will be working remote, it seems like Fishman may leapfrog her as a bigger voice, and now face, within the organization. His presence at Cole’s press conference was confirmation.
I know many Yankee fans were disappointed yesterday to see Gerrit Cole’s personal catcher last year, Martin Maldonado, re-sign with the Houston Astros. As we saw with Austin Romine’s departure, the Yankees are not going to spend $3-$4 million on a backup catcher. Maldonado got 2 years, $7 million from the Astros and there’s no way the Yankees were going there. They seem committed to making Kyle Higashioka the backup to Gary Sanchez, but admittedly, I’d prefer a better Plan B than the return of 39-year-old Erik Kratz who was signed to a minor league deal this week. At this point, I don’t see the Yankees bringing in competition for Higgy. Jason Castro, currently a free agent, has experience with new Yankees catching coordinator Tanner Swanson but I don’t see the Yankees paying Castro the money he’ll be looking for. We were spoiled a bit by Romine the last couple of years since he always seemed to come up big during Gary’s IL stints. But there’s no reason Higgy can’t deliver in the role. He has superior pitch framing skills, and there’s some pop in his bat. As much as I am looking forward to Swanson’s work with Sanchez, the same holds true for Higgy. The brightest catching prospects in the organization (Anthony Siegler, 20, and Josh Breaux, 22) have yet to play above Class A ball.
Lastly, it appears to be the end of the Pinstriped road for former top pitching prospect Chance Adams. He was designated for assignment on Wednesday before the Yankees announced Cole to make room on the 40-man roster. It’s disappointing as many of us had very high hopes for Adams, but the last couple of years have not been fun. Like many, I thought Adams might be a stronger option in the bullpen but we’ll never know. He could clear waivers and end up back in Scranton/Wilkes Barre but it seems like somebody would be willing to take a chance, no pun intended, on the former top prospect. He is only 25, has an option remaining, and some team might think they can pull his potential out. You see pitching-starved teams like the Los Angeles Angels and think they’d be all over this. I expect a trade as the more likely outcome although I can’t really see the Yankees getting much in return. Hopefully the change of scenery will be good for Chance and he’ll achieve the Major League dream at some point in the not-so-distant future. I am sad it didn’t work out with the Yankees but it was not to be.
The Yankees still need to make room for Brett Gardner once he is officially announced. If J.A. Happ isn’t traded, I think Stephen Tarpley is probably next up on the chopping block. I’d prefer to keep Ben Heller over Tarpley, and not really interested in parting with the younger arms that were added to the 40-man roster earlier this Fall. There was a time I wanted Luis Cessa to go, but he proved last year to be a good long-man option. With the departure of Nestor Cortes, Jr, Cessa carries more value than he did in seasons past. At this point, the next major milestone for the Yankees will be Februrary 12th when pitchers, including Gerrit Cole – woohoo!, and catchers report to Legends Field in Tampa, FL.
Photo Credit: Associated Press
As always, Go Yankees!
|Photo Credit: Charles Wenzelberg, New York Post|
AL East Championship is Step 1…
The Yankees may have won the AL Eastern Division Championship, but the road ahead is full of challenges. I am not holding my breath the Yankees will nail down home field advantage. The Yankees did pick up a game on the Houston Astros last night, and trail the AL Leaders by only a half-game but realistically it is a game and a half advantage for the Astros since they won the season series between the two teams. With only six regular season games left for the Yankees and a soft schedule for Houston (Mariners and Angels), it will be difficult to overcome the difference.
So, at this point, I am assuming that the Yankees will finish with the second best record in the AL and will host the Minnesota Twins in the ALDS. While having home field advantage would be nice with a potential playoff series against the Astros looming if both teams can advance to the American League Championship Series, you could argue that facing the Twins, a team the Yankees have historically matched up well against, is preferred over facing the potential Wild Card winning Oakland A’s who have been among baseball’s hottest teams recently. Honestly, I don’t really care who the Yankees face. ‘To be the best you have to beat the best’ so however this plays out is fine with me. Either the Yankees can win or they can’t. If they can’t, they are not deserving of advancing to the World Series. If the Yankees need the benefit of where the games are played, it was not meant to be. I think this team is good enough to beat anybody, anywhere.
I have no issue with Manager Aaron Boone’s decision to rest players in preparation for October.
|Photo Credit: AP|
The Yankees got good news yesterday on second baseman Gleyber Torres when the results of his MRI came back negative. He is one guy the Yankees could ill afford to lose if they intend to go deep into October. I’d love to see him reach 40 home runs (he only needs two more) but honestly the most important thing is his health. He’ll sit out again today and will likely return to the field when the Yankees play Tuesday night at Tropicana Field against the Wild Card contending Tampa Bay Rays. Two consecutive extra-inning walk-off’s by the Rays against the post-season eliminated Boston Red Sox have put them in the second Wild Card spot, a game ahead of the Cleveland Indians. Adam Ottavino seems like another guy that needs plenty of rest this month if he is to rediscover his earlier season magic.
To say I am disappointed with Domingo Germán is an understatement. Domestic violence can never be condoned and if he is guilty of the accusations, I believe he deserves significant punishment, including a long suspension and fine. His alleged actions were detrimental to the team and to the player individually. As a surprise 18-game winner this year, Germán had positioned himself to be a valuable member of the pitching staff heading into the playoffs and he was securing a long-term position going forward. With his selfish and appalling actions, he has jeopardized his future, potentially costing himself millions. Germán needs to find help to ensure this never happens again. His future literally depends upon it.
Germán’s loss is softened by the return of Luis Severino, but that’s not really the point. Until the investigation is completed and Germán has served any subsequent penalties, he should not be allowed to play. The fact that he is the winningest pitcher on this year’s squad is irrelevant. He did this, not us.
As far as replacements for Germán on the post-season roster, I like the idea of Jonathan Loaisiga who appears poised to be a breakout star in the bullpen.
It was so good to see the brief return of Dellin Betances but so very sad to see his season end with an achilles tear. Thankfully two medical opinions determined that surgery is not necessary, but his start to the 2020 season could be delayed. Nevertheless, I am hopeful the Yankees and Betances can come together on a one-year deal to allow the impending free agent to rebuild value and position himself for the huge payday he had been destined for prior to the injury-marred 2019 season. If that means applying a qualifying offer to Betances, I am hopeful they do it. I am not ready to see Betances leave and hope this is not the end of his Yankee career.
We may not have Betances but, knock on wood, we do have Luis Severino and Giancarlo Stanton. I am glad to have both of them back and despite his health challenges this year (and poor results last October), I am glad Giancarlo Stanton is a Yankee. He can make a difference for this team and I am glad he’s here, healthy and ready to contribute. Stanton takes such an undeserved beating on Social Media. I hope his bat shuts up the naysayers in the coming weeks. I’d rather have Stanton in left field over Clint Frazier, Cameron Maybin, or Tyler Wade. Not bashing Wade, who has made me a believer he should be on the post-season roster with his versatility and speed, but Stanton is clearly the best left field option available. That would be the case even if other guys like Mike Tauchman and Aaron Hicks (which would push Brett Gardner back into the left field conversation) were healthy.
|Photo Credit: Jim McIsaac, Getty Images|
Speaking of healthy, the Yankees are expected to get Edwin Encarnación back this week, most likely when the team travels to Arlington, Texas to take on the Texas Rangers for the regular season’s final series next weekend. Glad to see the Parrot will ride again. Speaking of Texas, it is sad the series will close out Globe Life Park in Arlington, at least in terms of baseball.
I lived in the Dallas/Fort Worth area when the stadium opened in 1994. I remember watching so many games at the old Arlington Stadium (Don Mattingly loved hitting there), but the new stadium helped usher in the new era of retro baseball stadiums. Camden Yards stands out as the park that broke the mold, but Globe Life Park followed in support. It was known by many names over the years. I knew it as The Ballpark in Arlington and can remember how majestic it looked the first time I walked up to it. The stadium had subsequent names like Ameriquest Field and Rangers Ballpark before receiving its current name in 2014. After the final baseball game is played, the current stadium will be re-configured for football, becoming the home of the upcoming XFL Dallas Renegades. The Rangers will open their new park, Globe Life Field, which is adjacent to the current stadium, next season.
The health news for Gary Sanchez has been favorable and if the Yankees do not get him back in Texas, he should be ready for the ALDS which is good thing. I think Austin Romine has done a fine job but going to war, I want El Gary in the trenches.
Heading into October, I wish the Yankees were playing as hotly as the Oakland A’s and the Milwaukee Brewers but there’s time. Just as Masahiro Tanaka elevates his game when the stakes are increased, so goes the 2019 New York Yankees. When October play begins, I have no doubt the Yankees will be prepared and ready to prove supremacy. Whether they are successful remains to be seen, but it won’t be for lack of trying. This team is on a mission to prove they are the best.
I was a little surprised yesterday when the San Diego Padres announced they had relieved manager Andy Green of his duties. I guess if I had been following the Padres closely, I would have seen the handwriting on the wall. Green can probably relate to how Buck Showalter felt when he was fired by the Yankees after the 1995 season or how Joe Girardi felt when his Yankees contract was not renewed after the 2017 season. The next manager of the Padres is going to inherit a talented ball club with a very strong farm system ready to bear fruit. It seems more likely Joe Girardi would go to Chicago, if there’s an opening after the season, or possibly to the crosstown Mets, but I think San Diego would be a golden opportunity for Girardi if there’s mutual interest. With such great potential in San Diego, the Padres should have plenty of strong candidates for their opening. The pressure is on Padres GM A.J. Preller. He has to get this one right.
I thought it might be the end of the road for Miami Marlins manager Don Mattingly but CEO Derek Jeter and company extended Donnie Baseball with a two-year contract and a mutual option for 2022. It is believed that Mattingly took a pay cut to stay with the cost-conscious Marlins. Record-wise, Mattingly hasn’t fared any better than the above-mentioned Andy Green, but he’ll get a chance to oversee the growth of the Marlins and their improving farm system (under the direction of former Yankee executive Gary Denbo). The prospects for the Marlins may not be as great as the Padres in the near future but Mattingly has long been one of my favorites and I think he’ll do a good job with the young talent posed to flow through Miami. As for this season, Mattingly helmed a club that lost 100 games (the Marlins are 53-101 as I type this post). After the “teardown” that followed Jeter’s arrival, it is not unexpected. But from here, I suspect Jeter will do what it takes to restore the Marlins to prominence. As much as I hate to see Jeter, Jorge Posada and Mattingly outside of the Yankees organization, I do wish them good luck with the rebuild.
|Photo Credit: Lynne Sladky, AP|
Well, as pesky as the Toronto Blue Jays have been for the Yankees, I am hopeful the Yankees can end the season series today with a win. It’s exciting to see what Luis Severino has in store for his second game of the 2019 season. Hopefully he goes deep into the game to build up his endurance and puts the team in position for their 102nd victory. A front three of James Paxton, Masahiro Tanaka and Sevy is very exciting as the calendar page prepares to turn.
As always, Go Yankees!
|Credit: Sarah Stier, Getty Images|
Aaron Boone’s Defining Moment…
Thanks to noted podcaster @Jomboy of Talkin’ Yanks, the words of Yankees manager Aaron Boone to young home plate umpire Brennan Miller were immortalized on Thursday afternoon.
“My guys are fucking savages in that fucking box and you’re having a piece of shit start to this game. I feel bad for you, but fucking get better. That guy is a good pitcher, but our guys are fucking savages in that box, our guys are fucking savages in the fucking box, tighten it up right now.”
The words, certain to become 2019’s rallying cry for the Yankees, almost immediately began showing up on t-shirts as they went viral thanks to social media. I loved every minute of it. I’ve been a Boone supporter since the day he was hired. I think at the time, my top choice had been San Francisco Giants bench coach Hensley Meulens but when the Yankees named Boone as the manager, I was on board with the choice. I liked Joe Girardi but I never once pined for his return after the decision was made to let him go upon the expiration of his contract following the 2017 season.
I knew there would be a learning curve for Boone. Every manager has to start some time. Joe Torre had his own early bumps with the Mets when he first started his managerial career. Boone’s mistakes last season were magnified, thanks to the New York media, and many fans were unforgiving. But as this season has progressed, the growth in Boone as a manager has been evident. It didn’t take his words this week to prove he had gotten better, it’s been on display for weeks, perhaps months. However, Thursday’s tirade showed the World that Aaron Boone has his players’ backs. He is an excellent leader and he has the full respect and command of the clubhouse. I think the ‘next man up’ mentality of the 2019 Yankees is fueled by Boone’s leadership style.
|Credit: Kathy Willens, AP|
Since the brim of Boone’s cap touched the brim of home plate umpire Brennan Miller’s cap during the post-ejection rant (seriously?), he was suspended for one game and served it last night against the Colorado Rockies. Bench coach Josh Bard, a graduate of Cherry Creek High School in Greenwood Village, Colorado (a suburb of Denver), served as Yankees manager against his once-hometown Rockies.
Boone’s words aside, this has been a memorable week for the Bronx Savages. The four-game series with the Tampa Bay Rays didn’t start well when Mets cast-off Travis d’Arnaud homered three times including the game-winner, a three-run shot off Aroldis Chapman in the top of the ninth inning on Monday night when the Yankees were just a strike away from victory. It was a tough loss to accept (harder than most), but the Yankees rebounded and took the next three games to win the series, leaving the Rays a distant eight games behind in the AL East standings. The Yankees have won 12 of 17 games from the Rays this year, and it’s been the difference-maker in the standings.
Despite the successful Tampa Bay series, I was a little worried going into last night’s game with the Rockies. It kind of felt like one of those series where the team, coming off an emotional series with the Rays and looking ahead to a road trip next week that takes the Yankees to Minneapolis and Boston to play AL contenders, could let up a little. But if Friday night’s game is any indication, it is still ‘pedal to the metal’. After falling behind 2-0, the Yankees coasted to the 8-2 victory after Edwin Encarnacion blasted his ‘walk-the-parrot’ grand slam to take the lead in the bottom of the third. With three hits and some excellent defensive play, many were referring to this as Mike Tauchman’s game. That’s what I’m Tauchin’ about! The former Colorado Rockie, who was never really given a shot to play in the Mile High City, showed his former team they may have erred in trading him away earlier this year. Tauchman has double the plate appearances with the Yankees this season than he had in two years with the Rockies (shuttling back and forth from the minors). Former Coloradan players DJ LeMahieu and Adam Ottavino, instrumental to the Rockies’ success of the past few seasons, also had a role in the decisive victory. Le Machine had two RBIs and Otto struck out the side in the top of the sixth inning. A friend, who is a die-hard Rockies fan, said she loves to see LeMahieu and Ottavino do well but “just not against us”.
The Yankees’ win, combined with losses by both the Tampa Bay Rays and the Boston Red Sox last night, leaves the Yanks nine games up in the AL East standings. They are 30 games over .500 for the first time this season at 63-33, and have 11 fewer losses than the second-place Rays. I am always fearful of a swoon that could erase the large lead, but you have to like where the Yankees sit entering play on July 20th. YES Network analyst David Cone had some great words after last night’s game:
“If you don’t like the Yankees, I mean if you are a Yankee hater, this has gotta be a really obnoxious year for you.”
Since trading deadline deals generally start popping up the week prior to the deadline, this coming week could be very active with the hard July 31st deadline just around the corner. The Yankees have been great so far this season despite the injury challenges, but the Houston Astros, with just one less win than the Yankees, could substantially improve their starting rotation in the next eleven days if they successfully land one of the top starting pitchers on the market to slot in behind Justin Verlander and Gerrit Cole. In other words, there is room for the Yankees to get better and they have to in order to ensure October success.
The Yankees had Jim Hendry, special assistant to Brian Cashman, and others in Detroit last night to watch Toronto’s Marcus Stroman. There were a number of other teams in attendance to watch the New York native shut out the lowly Tigers on six hits over seven innings, with five strikeouts and no walks. For Stroman, a trade to the Yankees would represent the elimination of a 27 1/2 game deficit in a single day. It think that would energize him, as it would any of the names that have been connected to the Yankees in recent weeks. I think my only hangup with acquiring Stroman is sending quality talent to an AL East rival. In many ways, I’d prefer to see someone like Clint Frazier or Estevan Florial or Albert Abreu head to Cleveland or San Francisco for no other reason than they are not AL East teams. But I am very intrigued with the idea of having the talented Stroman in the starting rotation.
As much as I like Madison Bumgarner, I don’t really expect him to show up in the Bronx. He could find his way to Houston, Minneapolis, or Atlanta which wouldn’t be ideal but there’s not much we can do about it except beat him when the time comes. Robbie Ray of the Arizona Diamondbacks continues to be a name to watch but the D-Backs are only a game out of the NL Wild Card hunt. Meanwhile, the Texas Rangers have lost five in a row to push them 5 1/2 games out in the AL Wild Card chase, which could potentially increase chances that Mike Minor is dealt.
For all the names that have been mentioned, I still half-expect Brian Cashman to land a solid starter that no one has mentioned. For as much as I like Luis Severino and Dellin Betances, I am taking the approach they’ll provide nothing this year. The Yankees have played 99 games without them and it’s hard to envision them making a significant contribution with the 63 games remaining in the regular season. Maybe they become solid bullpen options by October but realistically I am not counting on it. It seems like there have been too many setbacks for both so I am not pinning any hopes on them.
I keep seeing Yankee fans saying the team shouldn’t trade Deivi Garcia or Estevan Florial or other top prospects in the organization. I am sorry but if the payoff is a World Series championship this year, NO ONE is untouchable. I guarantee the Chicago Cubs have never regretted their decision to trade Gleyber Torres in 2016. They might regret the 2017 trade of Eloy Jimenez but not Torres because it meant the first World Series championship in a century for them. It hasn’t been a century for the Yankees, but it has been ten long years and several Red Sox championships since the Yankees last hoisted the trophy. We need to keep an open mind and let Brian Cashman do his magic. He lives for these hot, humid July days and I am confident that he’ll make this exciting, fun and very special Yankee team even better in the coming days. Our goal is to take the World Series championship away from the Boston Red Sox. Anything less is unacceptable. I don’t want another ALDS or ALCS exit. The window of opportunity is now. There may be pain along the way, but we need to persevere. Like Buck Showalter said the other day, “prospects are just prospects”. I want guys who can make a difference in three months, not three years.
The Yankees released catcher Ryan Lavarnway from his minor league contract this week and in his first game with the Cincinnati Reds, the team that picked him up, he hits two home runs and drives in six RBIs. Of course he does. I know, he’ll never sustain it and will prove to be the journeyman catcher that he is, but it’s funny how guys prosper outside of Pinstripes when they land in low pressure environments. Not exactly people that you’d want in the trenches with you but good for them.
The Baby Savages (DSL Yankees) are at it again. After scoring the most runs in professional baseball with their 38-2 thrashing of the Twins’ affiliate earlier this month, they scored 19 runs in the second inning of last night’s game with the DSL Angels en route to a 23-10 victory. They brought 23 men to the plate during the highly productive inning. They are only following the lead of the big league club.
As always, Go Yankees!
|Aaron Hicks / Photo Credit: UPI|
Red Sox Hardly Resemble Last October’s Champions…
Maybe Jared Carrabis is right and the Yankees can only beat bad teams. Case in point, the Yankees’ 4-1 win over the punchless Boston Red Sox. Seriously, I continue to be amazed by a team missing its top stars like Aaron Judge, Giancarlo Stanton, Dellin Betances, Luis Severino, Didi Gregorius and Miguel Andujar. If you removed a half-dozen of their very best players, I am not sure the Minnesota Twins or the Houston Astros, the league leaders with 38 wins, would be where they are today. The Yankees sit one game back in wins at 37, and the second best overall record (winning percentage) behind the Twins.
|Gary Sanchez and Aroldis Chapman / Photo Credit: Julio Cortez, AP|
I can’t say enough great things about DJ LeMahieu. As much as I wanted Manny Machado last winter, I never complained about the Yankees’ signing of LeMahieu. Living in Denver, I was able to see, day in and day out, how great LeMahieu is. He’s not a vocal guy and simply lets his play do his talking for him. Game after game in Denver, you’d hear DJ’s teammates with the Rockies talk about how much he meant to the them. When Colorado’s best players, such as Nolan Arenado and Charlie Blackmon, talked about how special LeMahieu was, you knew what you saw with your own eyes was the truth. The guy can play baseball. I am not saying LeMahieu is as good as or better than Machado, but LeMahieu is exactly what this team needs. I had really felt bad for LeMahieu in the off-season when so many Yankee fans were trashing him and most felt he was a product of Coors Field. Sorry, altitude does not improve the ability to hit. It may help balls carry but that’s never been DJ’s game. I am sure that sliders don’t slide or cutters don’t cut like they would at sea level but it still comes down to hand/eye coordination. In 51 games and 221 plate appearances for everybody’s favorite team, I believe LeMahieu has proven he can hit outside of the Mile High City. He is batting .317/.368/.462 with .355 wOBA and 121 wRC+. He has hit 6 home runs (a figure he has only exceeded twice in his career with 11 in 2016, the year he won the NL batting title, and 15 last year). Last night against the Red Sox, LeMahieu was 2-for-4 with a run-scoring double in the bottom of the third and a home run, a solo shot in the fifth, both off Red Sox starter Chris Sale, for two RBIs. He was dazzling with the leather too.
|DJ LeMahieu / Photo Credit: Jim McIsaac, Getty Images|
Daniel Burch of The Greedy Pinstripes was among the very first, if not the first, to suggest last Winter that LeMahieu to the Yanks made sense. I was unable to find the post or I would link it here. I am sure that Yankees special consultant Jim Hendry, the man responsible for originally drafting LeMahieu when he was the Chicago Cubs GM, already had his eyes on his former pupil. But Daniel had great vision for a fan, with no professional affiliation to the team, to see how nicely LeMahieu would fit into the Yankees’ lineup.
LeMahieu certainly has my vote for Yankees MVP at this point in the season. I am not trying to minimize the contributions Domingo German and Giovanny Urshela have made, or the resurrection of The Kraken in the Bronx. LeMahieu has helped solve last year’s problem with runners in scoring position. He has helped those guys who would have been stranded last year step on home plate on their way back to the dugout this season.
After the game last night, Manager Aaron Boone said “He’s out there to rip your heart out” after prefacing it by saying not to be fooled by DJ’s quiet demeanor. When asked about Boone’s comment, DJ just smiled and said “I don’t know about that”. I mentioned it to a friend, a die-hard Rockies fan, and she said “That’s DJ…quiet and mighty. He is pretty humble guy”. Humble or not, I’d hate to think where this team would be without LeMahieu.
With Didi Gregorius set to rejoin the Yankees soon, DJ’s role will change since Gleyber Torres will slide from shortstop to second base, but there’s no way the Yankees can remove DJ’s name from the lineup card. I think he’ll see most of his time at third base, but his versatility allows the Yankees to put him at first and drop Louis Linwood Voit III in at DH. Based on this, Kendrys Morales would be the guy I’d cut to make room for Didi. Use the DH as a revolving door for starters to keep a spot open for LeMahieu. I am sure Didi will see a fair share amount of time at DH as he works his way back although it’s incredible to think how great the Yankees will be defensively on the left side with Didi at short and either Gio Urshela or LeMahieu at third. Not trying to take anything away from the brilliant job Torres has done at short, but Didi is my shortstop…until he’s not. I really hope the Yankees move to sign him to an extension now that he’s healthy. The potential for a lack of motivation by the Yankees exists given how well Torres and LeMahieu performed as the keystone combo. I am not complaining about how well they played but I really do not want to lose Didi after this season.
|Scranton/Wilkes-Barre “Red Barons” Shortstop 5-31-19 / Photo Credit: Jason Farmer, The Citizen’s Voice|
With the calendar page turning to June, the talk about Dallas Keuchel should intensify. Well, it’s been intensifying for weeks but now that the MLB Draft is upon us in a couple of days and the drop of the qualifying offer/draft pick compensation attached to Keuchel, Keuchel’s market should finally form since the only cost will be money. If you believe Keuchel’s agent, Scott Boras, Keuchel is nearly in plug-and-play condition and would not require much time to get ready. Boras would never lead us astray, would he? Honestly, I’ve never been too excited about Keuchel and feel he is regressed from that pitcher that used to absolutely dominate the Yankees. But, there’s no denying he is still a good pitcher and could help. If the Yankees don’t sign him, I could easily see the Tampa Bay Rays or Boston Red Sox make the move. I’d rather have Keuchel pitch for us than against us. If you told me that I could have either Madison Bumgarner, for prospects, or Keuchel, for money, I’d take the latter. The Yankees need rotation help as there are still too many questions with the current rotation. I’d take Max Scherzer, with the high cost in prospects, above all, but that’s a topic for next month’s trade deadline.
Everyone has been talking about how the Yankees blew it by not signing Patrick Corbin last winter. I recognize that he started off very well in Washington, but last night’s line was very ugly. 65 pitches in 2 2/3rd innings which led to 11 hits for the Cincinnati Reds and 8 runs (6 earned). Corbin still has a decent overall ERA at 3.46 but it’s not as nice as it was entering the game. I know, there’s no pitcher immune from a bad game but it’s reinforcement about how fickle pitching can be. We saw it yesterday in pushing perennial Cy Young candidate Chris Sale’s record to 1-7 despite Sale’s 10 strikeouts. @Eric_M888 had the best tweet after the game: “Can’t spell saLLLLLLLe without 7 L’s”.
|Sandy Leon and Chris SaLLLLLLLe / Photo Credit: Julio Cortez, AP|
This is not a game recap but I’d be remiss for not calling out the great throw by Gary Sanchez with two outs and two on to nail former Yank Eduardo Nunez off second base for the final out in the top of the fifth. The Red Sox could have done some damage with the bat in the hands of Andrew Benintendi, who likes Yankee Stadium dingers, but it was not to be. It was simply a fantastic play by Sanchez, showing off his brilliant arm, but give equal credit to Gleyber Torres for the across the bag swipe of Nunez a split second before his hand reached the bag. The reaction by Torres was priceless and I am sure it will be a highlight replayed again and again as the season progresses. I felt that was the true turning point of the game.
|Gary Sanchez / Photo Credit: Kathleen Malone-Van Dyke|
Thanks to the win and a Rays loss (5-3 to the Minnesota Twins), the Yankees (37-19) moved up to a game and a half lead over the Rays in the AL East. The Red Sox are 8 1/2 games back. The Yankees’ record in May (20-7) was the best since their magical 1998 season. A successful June can start today with a win. Domingo German (9-1, 3.43 ERA) goes for his tenth win after failing last week against the Kansas City Royals. He’ll be opposed by Rick Porcello (4-4, 4.41 ERA). I’d really like to see German nail down that tenth win but as long as the Yankees emerge victorious, I will be happy.
As always, Go Yankees!
|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.
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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!