|Photo Credit: NY Post (Paul J Bereswill)|
New York secures one-game ‘do-or-die’ playoff…
As expected, the Yankees secured a post-season berth on Saturday when the Tampa Bay Rays lost followed by the extra-innings win by the Yankees over the Baltimore Orioles.
The only thing that seems weird to me is breaking champagne as if you had just won the division. I think I read that 120 bottles of Moet & Chandon met their fate. I guess I should appreciate the Yankees have extended their season by one game and if they can win that one, they’ll move on to join the division winners for the divisional playoffs. Once they are in the divisional playoffs, anything can happen. We know the Yankees can beat any team if they are playing to their abilities. I know that it was not officially a Wild Card game (which didn’t exist back then), but I am sure the 1978 Yankees and Red Sox did not pop bubbly at the end of the regular season when they finished in a tie for the AL East and had to play the memorable Bucky “F——ing” Dent tie-breaker at Fenway Park. I know, there are ten other teams in the American League that wish their season wasn’t ending a week from today and would be very excited to play one game for the right to advance. So, congratulations to the Yankees for giving themselves a chance.
I have a more business-like approach. Let’s secure the home position for the Wild Card and focus on winning the single game elimination. When it is over and if the Yankees emerge victorious, that’s truly cause for celebration.
|Photo Credit: Getty Images (Mike Stobe)|
Right now, my primary concern for the Yankees is to hold off the Oakland A’s for the top spot in the Wild Card standings. After the Yankees game had ended, I watched the end of the A’s matchup against the Minnesota Twins. The A’s loaded the bases against the Twins in the bottom of the ninth with the game deadlocked at two. Mark Canha battled Twins closer Trevor Hildenberger in an 11-pitch at-bat before striking out for the second out. It looked like the Twins might get out of the jam with one more out, but on the very next pitch to Matt Chapman, Hildenberger threw a wild pitch past catcher Willians Astudillo to basically gift wrap the victory for the A’s as Stephen Piscotty easily raced home for the winning run. That moment was very disheartening. So, the Yankees maintained their 1 1/2 game lead over Oakland (two in the loss column and the Yankees hold the tie breaker).
The A’s can clinch the second Wild Card spot today with a Rays loss or an A’s win. If the Rays are eliminated, I think they’ll still be very motivated to beat the Yankees in the upcoming series because it will be their “playoff” even if they aren’t going anywhere. Hats off to Kevin Cash and his Rays. I know I certainly did not expect them to have 86 wins on September 23rd.
For those of you who follow Twitter (some very begrudgingly like Bryan Van Dusen), you probably saw this tweet. Courtesy of the twitter account of Brendan Kuty, NJ Advance Media for NJ.com (@BrendanKutyNJ):
Judge said he pulled aside Luke Voit during the celebration. “We wouldn’t be in this position right now if it wasn’t for you. You coming over here, I know it was a slow start, but you picked it up and you picked us up and when we needed the big hit, you came through for us.”
Big words from a big man, and words very well deserved for Luke Voit. Voit launched his 11th home run for the Yankees yesterday with a solo blast in the second inning. It eventually ensured the game would go into extra innings for the Yankees to win it. For those counting at home, Voit has 11 homers and 25 RBIs for the Yankees and his batting line is .314/.385/.648 with 1.032 OPS. The guy’s been incredible and he has made Greg Bird irrelevant.
|Photo Credit: Getty Imaes (Mike Stobe)|
As for Aaron Judge, his return to the active roster has been huge. I know he was a presence in the dugout during his lengthy stay on the disabled list, cheering on his teammates, but this is a different team when he is in the lineup. I’ve felt all season that he is the heartbeat of the team and this month has proven it to be so true. I really think Judge should be the next Captain for the Yankees. He is the team’s MVP and clearly its leader, a role that will continue to grow for him. The “fun” is returning to the team and it is no doubt directly tied to Aaron Judge. He is a worthy successor for future Hall of Famer Derek Jeter.
Hopefully Aaron Hicks was not hurt too badly when he fouled the pitch off his ankle in the bottom of the eleventh yesterday before he hit the game-winning double. Tests after the game were negative but that foul looked so painful. There’s no doubt we’ll see Hicks in shin guards moving forward. I heard he had the ankle heavily taped after yesterday’s game. My hope is that he is feeling much better today without too much swelling. Hicks is the unsung hero for this team and they cannot afford to lose him for any extended time.
Yesterday, it was reported CC Sabathia intends to play another season. Sadly, I do not feel it should be with the Yankees despite how much Sabathia has done and meant for the organization over the years. He has been a great Yankee and I’ll always be appreciative of his time in Pinstripes. But the Yankees can do better for the fifth spot in the rotation even if that just means re-signing J.A. Happ in the off-season. I expect the Yankees to upgrade the starting rotation (Patrick Corbin, please) and at this point in his career, Sabathia is not going to get better and will only regress. Age sucks but it is a terminal affliction for all of us.
The Yankees should also not pick up the $12.5 million club option for Brett Gardner and should go with the $2 million buyout. Another great Yankee but it is time to move on. Regardless of what happens for the rest of 2018, I have very high expectations for the 2019 New York Yankees. It is time to end the AL East reign of the Boston Red Sox and I think the ’19 Yankees will be the team to do it. It will be weird to see Sabathia in a different uniform but even stranger to see Gardy in other colors after a career isolated to Pinstripes. There are tough decisions ahead for the Yankees. I suppose it’s possible the Yankees could re-sign Gardy to a lower salary, but I am hopeful for the future of Clint Frazier and would like to see Red Thunder given every opportunity to break camp with the big league club next year. Or sign Bryce Harper, that works too.
Nick Cafardo of The Boston Globe reports the Yankees would like to have Andrew McCutchen back next year if they “can cut a reasonable deal”. I would support his return, but of course Cafardo also threatens “And yes, Jacoby Ellsbury could return in 2019”. Now, that’s one guy I do not want to see in a Yankees uniform next year. I am done with DL’s-bury. Time to cut bait with Ellsbury if he is healthy. If Cafardo is to be believed, the Yankees will rekindle talks with the San Francisco Giants in the off-season about Madison Bumgarner so that’s one to keep an eye on.
With heavy speculation J.A. Happ will be the starter for the Yankees on October 3rd against the Oakland A’s (sorry Rays fans, you’re not catching them), today is a big day. Happ (16-6, 3.62 ERA) takes the mound against Alex Cobb (5-15, 4.90 ERA) and the Orioles. If Happ dominates Baltimore, he’ll solidify his chances to be “the man” in the Wild Card game. If not, Yankees Twitter will be announcing the end of the World by late afternoon.
A win today would be a beautiful thing. Let’s get this sweep. Go Yankees!
|Photo Credit: USA TODAY Sports, via Reuters (Adam Hunger)|
Yanks kick off final regular season home stand with an easy win…
For all of the struggles by the Yankees this month, last night was fun. The Yankees were in charge from the start and never looked back en route to the 11-0 thrashing of the Toronto Blue Jays behind the stellar pitching of restored staff ace Masahiro Tanaka.
|Photo Credit: Getty Images (Jim McIsaac)|
After a disappointing nine-game road trip that saw the Yankees drop series in Oakland and Minneapolis to finish 4-5, allowing the A’s to close the gap in the AL Wild Card standings, the Yankees needed a strong game with contributions across the roster. I suppose it was a good sign when it was announced Aaron Judge had been activated off the disabled list prior to the game, even if his bat wasn’t activated with him. Judge will serve as a pinch runner and defensive specialist until it is time to take a few swings in simulated games in Tampa before he gets an opportunity to seek his 27th home run for the Bombers. Given that Judge is the obvious heart and soul of this team (and its future Captain if the Yankees do what’s right), I am glad to see him on the active roster even with his limitations.
I am resigned to the fact that this has been a special season for the Boston Red Sox. I hope they fail in the post-season (like the 2001 Seattle Mariners) but there’s been no doubt they’ve owned the regular season. Unlike the Yankees, they’ve been able to limit the slumps and no opposing lead seems safe against J.D. Martinez and Company. I remain hopeful that they’ll fail in the post-season with their questionable bullpen but at the moment they are the best Red Sox team of my lifetime (well, anybody’s lifetime for that matter). I hate the Houston Astros but if the AL Championship comes down to the Astros and the Red Sox, I’d have to pull for a repeat World Series appearance for the defending champs.
There’s been so much talk about which pitcher should get the call in the inevitable Wild Card game against the Oakland A’s. Right now, it would seem that Tanaka is the man of the hour. Many have mentioned J.A. Happ as a possibility but as good as he has been as a Yankee, I really think the choice should be limited to Tanaka or Luis Severino. I guess I can still remember the times when the Yankees had their way with Happ when he was wearing a Blue Jays uniform. In his last game against the Yankees in July, he was pounded for six runs in 2 2/3 innings in Toronto’s 10-5 loss to the Yanks. Although Severino has been struggling for awhile, he pitched much better in Wednesday’s 3-1 loss to the Minnesota Twins when the Yankees didn’t get their first hit until the eighth inning. He held the Twins to only one run on four hits in 5 2/3 innings and didn’t walk anybody in the tough luck loss. He struck out five. It’s a start, both literally and figuratively.
As the Yankees begin their final home stand, it is a little sad that it could be the last regular season games at Yankee Stadium for a few of the guys. Brett Gardner, CC Sabathia, and David Robertson are the names that stick out the most to me. Several guys, like Sonny Gray and maybe even Greg Bird, may have played themselves off the roster after the season. It’s doubtful the Yankees will re-sign Andrew McCutchen or Zach Britton so their brief Pinstriped careers could soon be coming to an end and there is no certainty the Yankees will re-sign J.A. Happ. MLB Trade Rumors speculated this morning that Happ could earn more than a guaranteed $40 million for three years on his next deal when he becomes a free agent after the season. That’s a lot of money for a guy who turns 36 next month. Hopefully the Yankees hang on to their Wild Card lead so that there is at least one more game at Yankee Stadium for the impending departees after the current home stand ends.
I am not sure how I feel about the Yankees’ chances for October. If they play like the team we’ve seen in recent weeks, it will be ‘one and done’ in the Wild Card game. If they can capitalize on the momentum of last night’s game and propel themselves into the playoffs on a roll, anything can happen. We know this team is capable of beating anybody including the Red Sox. But we also know that the bats can go into silent mode with runners in scoring position at times (more often than I would like). I guess I could say that while I am hopeful for the best, I am braced for the worst. I do know the Yankees need a healthy Aaron Judge and Aroldis Chapman before we play the final regular season series in Boston at the end of the month. We need both guys firing on all cylinders for the team’s hopes to advance deep into October.
Like many Yankee fans, I am very pleased with the production and energy that we’ve seen from first baseman Luke Voit. I certainly never dreamed that GM Brian Cashman would be able to flip relievers Chasen Shreve and Giovanny Gallegos for a guy who has become such a big part of the Yankees offense. I don’t know what the future holds for Voit but I am enjoying the current ride. I think the Yankees will look to upgrade the position in the off-season but Voit has certainly earned the right to battle Greg Bird for the starting position next Spring.
|Photo Credit: Getty Images (Jim McIsaac)|
I’ve seen so many people call for the head of Aaron Boone. Sure, he’s made his share of rookie mistakes in his first year as Yankees manager but I think he’ll be stronger for it in 2019. There’s not anybody out there I would prefer to see as the team’s manager at this point and I am certainly not pining for the return of Joe Girardi. When Boone was announced as the Yankees manager last off-season, I had been hopeful that he’d select a veteran manager as his bench coach. So I was a little disappointed when he went with Josh Bard who has not managed at any level. Bard may be smart and confident, but I really preferred a battle tested veteran manager in the role as lead consultant for Boone. Boone does have managerial experience on his staff with Larry Rothschild who was the original manager for the Tampa Bay Rays (then Devil Rays) when they entered the American League. Third base coach Phil Nevin has minor league managerial experience. But that’s not the same as your right hand guy. The best case scenario would have been for the Yankees to have retained former bench coach Rob Thomson who now serves in the same role for the Philadelphia Phillies and their infant manager, Gabe Kapler. Another veteran manager who left the organization last off-season will most likely be coaching first base for the Yankees’ Wild Card opponent. Al Pedrique, the former manager of the Scranton/Wilkes-Barre RailRiders, is presently first base coach for the Oakland A’s. In my opinion, Thomson or Pedrique would have been much better options to sit (or rather stand) beside Boone in the Yankees dugout than Bard.
Speaking of Joe Girardi, I am not sure where he’ll get his next opportunity. I had thought St Louis was an obvious destination but the Cardinals have committed to their interim manager, Mike Shildt, by dropping the interim tag. Shildt has made the Cardinals relevant again after their disappointing performance under former manager Mike Matheny. I thought Washington might be another possibility but it sounds like first-year manager Dave Martinez will get another shot in 2019 even if the team will be Bryce Harper-less. The Toronto Blue Jays have been mentioned as a possibility given the speculation that their manager, John Gibbons, is managing his final games in a Blue Jays uniform. It would be weird to see Girardi in the AL East with another team. But when you look at teams with great young prospects on the horizon, the Blue Jays would be near the top of the list with the highly rated sons of former Major Leaguers Vladimir Guerrero, Dante Bichette, and Craig Biggio among others. All things considered, I am hopeful Girardi likes his job with MLB Network well enough to wait for a Chicago job to open at some point in the future.
The Scranton/Wilkes-Barre RailRiders beat the heavily favored Durham Bulls last night to send the International League’s Governors’ Cup Finals to the winner-take-all Game Five to be played in Moosic, PA later today. Domingo German will start for the RailRiders against Durham’s Kyle Bird (part of the Bulls planned bullpen day). The Bulls are the defending IL champs, while the RailRiders were the Wild Card entrant and last year’s championship series loser. Win or lose, this has been a great season for the Yankees’ top farm team. The Bulls have been at a disadvantage for the series since all of the games have been played at PNC Field in Moosic due to the weather conditions in the Carolinas.
Entering play today, the magic number for the Boston Red Sox to win the AL East championship is six games. The Yankees (91-56) currently trail the Red Sox by 9 1/2 games so at this point it is only a matter of time until the Red Sox are sipping champagne. My hope is that they do not do it next week on Yankee Stadium soil. The Yankees lead the AL Wild Card by a game and a half over the Oakland A’s but hold the tie-breaker. The Seattle Mariners trail the A’s by 8 1/2 games so barring any miracle comebacks, the AL Wild Card will be Yankees-A’s with location being the only question.
For today’s game, the Yankees send CC Sabathia (7-6, 3.54 ERA) to the mound. He’ll be opposed by Toronto’s Sean Reid-Foley (1-3, 6.86 ERA). Sabathia has not looked good in his recent outings and he really needs to step his game soon. Hopefully today is the start. We want a win, we need a win, let’s get a win. Go Yankees!
|Photo Credit: AP (Julie Jacobson)|
Sadly, Boston shows no signs of slowing down…
Just when you think you might be able to trust Masahiro Tanaka, you can’t. Since his return from the disabled list in early July, Tanaka had given up no more than three runs in any start and had only allowed a grand total of six runs in five starts. Yet, on Friday night, he was hammered for six runs including three home runs in the Yankees’ 12-7 loss to the Texas Rangers. When you score seven runs against losing teams, you should win games, not lose them.
Meanwhile, the Boston Red Sox overcame an 8-3 deficit to crush the Baltimore Orioles, 19-12. Boston, 82-35, is on pace to match the Yankees’ historic 1998 season when they won 114 games in the regular season. At their current winning percentage, the Red Sox project to 113 wins. This is not 1978 and the Red Sox are not going to collapse.
|Photo Credit: AP (Patrick Semansky)|
With Boston’s nine game lead in the AL East, the Yankees are headed for the one-and-out Wild Card playoff game. At the moment, their only competition for the Wild Card is the resurgent Oakland A’s and the Seattle Mariners. The A’s are only 4 1/2 games behind the Yankees, while the Mariners sit 6 games back.
Oakland has been very aggressive in rebuilding their bullpen in recent weeks. Their closer, former Washington National Blake Treinen, has had a breakout season. He currently has 29 saves to go with a 0.93 ERA in 48 games. Behind Treinen, the A’s have added former New York Mets closer Jeurys Familia, former Yankees/Nationals reliever Shaun Kelley, and former Minnesota Twins closer Fernando Rodney. For the starting rotation, they’ve added former Detroit Tigers starter Mike Fiers, a target Yankee fans love to hate. None of the names shake fear but it shows the A’s are serious about their Wild Card run. There’s no question they have the talent to beat the Yankees in a one-game do-or-die playoff game.
I wish I could say that I am not worried like The Greedy Pinstripes’ Daniel Burch can, but I am worried. Sorry Daniel. We knew in the off-season the Yankees needed to add a quality starting pitcher and it didn’t happen. So, the team had to scramble in July to add Lance Lynn and J.A. Happ. Both guys have done fine jobs but neither is going to make a difference when the chips are on the line. When Aaron Judge was lost with the minor bone fracture, it was evident the Yankees needed to add a short-term bat for the outfield. But instead, the decision was made to roll with one of the few healthy outfielders in the system, journeyman Shane Robinson. The Yankees could have easily added a guy like former Yankee Curtis Granderson who would have filled a valuable void. His bat likes Yankee Stadium and has the track record to show it. He may not be the player he was during his Yankee days thanks to the terminal affliction known as aging but he is more than capable of giving the Yankees a supportive bat and a valuable bench player when Judge returns.
The Mariners strengthened their bullpen with the addition of Adam Warren, a guy the Yankees certainly could have used the last couple of games. Warren was the winning pitcher in the M’s 4-3 victory over the Houston Astros last night. The Mariners also benefit from the return of Robinson Cano in a few days. Cano may not be eligible for the post-season but he’ll certainly help the Mariners make the push for October. He’s a valuable late season addition for Seattle. We’ll see if there is rust to shake off but I suspect that Cano will be ready to go.
|Photo Credit: The Herald, Everett, WA (Kevin Clark)|
Please do not get me wrong. I like the 2018 New York Yankees. No one expected a historic season from the Boston Red Sox. The Yankees, despite their struggles, have won more games in Major League Baseball than any team other than the Red Sox and the Houston Astros. It is very possible they’ll go into a potential Wild Card game with over 100 wins. My only concern is that GM Brian Cashman could have done a better job (if that is possible). Everyone is so quick to give him credit for his genius but standing back, he’s had his share of misses. I like manager Aaron Boone but there’s no question we’ve paid a price for his inexperience.
I am anxious for the returns of Gary Sanchez and Aaron Judge, but the Yankees need to take care of business now. August is filled with losing teams on the schedule. The Yankees have the potential to have a very successful month despite starting it with a four-game sweep by the Red Sox but they can’t let 52 win teams like the Rangers crush them. Rookie Ronald Guzman looks like the greatest player who ever lived when he feasts on Yankees pitching, having accumulated six home runs already this season. Half of his season total are against the Pinstripers. He was the first rookie to hit three home runs in a game last night against the Yankees. That’s covering many years and players and is the strongest rookie performance against the Yankees since the A’s Reggie Jackson slugged six homers against his future team in 1968. This cannot happen if the Yankees expect to be successful. Ronald Guzman is no Reggie Jackson and the rest of the American League knows it. Apparently, the Yankees pitching staff didn’t get the memo. To digress slightly, why is A.J. Cole on the MLB roster and Justus Sheffield is not? Time to add Top Sheff to the 40-man and open a spot on the active roster by punting Cole.
It sounds like we can add Neil Walker to the list of wounded. After last night’s game, Aaron Boone said that Walker tweaked his neck and was dealing with illness. I had wondered why he wasn’t in the lineup or why he wasn’t used to pinch hit but that explains it. As Joe Girardi would say, it’s not what you want. Fortunately, Walker is penciled into today’s lineup (outfield, no less) so hopefully his physical ailments were minor.
I could care less if Jacoby Ellsbury is going to miss the remainder of the season after undergoing surgery for a torn hip labrum. I had not counted on the player and did not want to see his return potentially cost another player a valuable roster spot. As much as I would love for the Yankees to cut bait, the truth is they won’t as long as they can collect insurance on his salary. I get it. I am just ready for the day when the Yankees can finally give him his walking papers.
I was very glad to hear that YES Network analyst Ken Singleton will return for another season after he had announced that 2018 would be his last. There is something so calming and reassuring about Singleton’s voice and his stories are so great to listen to. I’ve long been amazed that a former Yankees enemy (courtesy of his days in Baltimore) could excel calling Yankee games with no bitterness or regret. He has exuded class and professionalism from the start and I’m glad he’ll be back in 2019 even if he will be carrying a much lighter load. In a season that has seen Michael Kay’s stock drop and Ryan Ruocco’s elevate, Singleton was been a voice of consistency.
I was sorry to see Phil Hughes designated for assignment yesterday by the San Diego Padres. I had hoped the former Yankee would fare better in his native sunny Southern California but it was not meant to be. I’ve always liked the guy and I am hopeful that he can find a good home to make a difference even if it is in relief. I don’t really see a fit with the Yankees, but there are plenty of teams in need of help. I am not ready to see the end of Hughes career so hopefully this is just the next chapter in his book.
I’ll be headed to see Manny Machado and the Los Angeles Dodgers take on the Colorado Rockies on Sunday at Coors Field in Denver. It should be a fun game. Former Yankee Rich Hill will get the start for the Dodgers. I was in LA last weekend and didn’t get the chance to see the Dodgers play the Houston Astros at Dodger Stadium so this is a good consolation prize. Manny remains a guy that I’d love to see the Yankees pursue in the off-season (dump Greg Bird and move Miguel Andujar to first to open third for Machado) and I’ll certainly be cheering for him on Sunday.
Well, time for my voice of pessimism to close. Time for a new Yankees winning streak to start. Can we get another quality start from Lance Lynn? We’ll find out in a few hours. In Rangers starter Drew Hutchison’s last game, he gave up six runs in three innings to the Baltimore Orioles. We can do better.
|Photo Credit: Getty Images (Elsa)|
Ninth Postponement of the Season…
Friday brought another weather-related postponement for our favorite baseball team. It was the ninth of the season. The Yankees and the Kansas City Royals will play two today as a result with a day/night double-header. In one of the most used phrases ever in the Yankees Universe, ‘it’s not what you want’.
I guess if there is a positive, the Yankees opponent today will be a little weaker. They lost significant power with last night’s trade of Mike Moustakas to the Milwaukee Brewers. The Brewers, who aggressively lost out on Manny Machado, presumably will move third baseman, and former Red Sock, Travis Shaw to second to make room at third for Moose Tacos. I am a little disappointed the Yankees were unable to acquire Moose. His left-handed bat would have played nicely at Yankee Stadium, and his power would have helped compensate for the temporary losses of Aaron Judge and Gary Sanchez. I don’t really see any other options on the market that would appeal to me as greatly as Moustakas, who was batting .249/.309/.468, .778 OPS, with 20 homers and 62 RBIs.
I was a little surprised to see him end up with Milwaukee. Earlier in the day, it had been reported the Brewers were in heavy talks with the Baltimore Orioles for second baseman Jonathan Schoop and possibly RHP Kevin Gausman. They must have pivoted to the Royals over a failure to make any headway with Orioles GM Dan Duquette or whomever is running the show for the O’s these days (surprise, surprise).
I keep hearing Curtis Granderson’s name as a possibility. I enjoyed his time in Pinstripes but at this stage of his career, I am not really interested in a reunion. He is 37 years old and is no longer the player he once was. The Grandy Man is batting .231/.334/.421, .756 OPS, with 10 home runs and 31 RBIs in 288 plate appearances. No thanks. I’d rather get Clint Frazier healthy although admittedly I don’t know how long that will take. Oh man, my head hurts. No wait, that’s Frazier, not me.
Another name that seems to come up frequently is Jose Martinez of the St Louis Cardinals. The Aaron Judge-sized first baseman/outfielder has put up some good numbers this year (.295/.358/.463, 13 homers, 58 RBIs) but he is losing playing time because of his poor defensive skills. I am not interested in a guy who can only DH. Any acquisition the Yankees make would need to be someone who can continue to help the team after Judge and Sanchez return in late August or early September.
I guess it’s not the end of the world for the Yankees to roll with what they currently have. I may not be Neil Walker’s greatest fan but I recognize he plays better with regular playing time. Using DH as a rotation between Walker and Neil Walker is certainly passable for a few weeks. I thought Tyler Austin would be the one to get the call when Aaron Judge was placed on the disabled list but the Yankees went with Tyler Wade instead. From a defensive perspective, Wade makes more sense. He can field the corner outfield positions better than Austin, making him a more useful fourth outfielder-type. But he can also spell relief at second and short, something Austin obviously cannot do. The only guy on the roster who doesn’t make sense to me right now, excluding Chasen Shreve, is outfielder Shane Robinson but he is expected to be demoted today to make room for J.A. Happ.
The month of August is filled with winnable series. The only playoff contender they face is the Boston Red Sox with a four-game series starting Thursday, August 2nd. They won’t see a potential playoff team again until Labor Day (Monday, September 3rd) when they travel to Oakland, CA to take on Dustin Fowler and the Athletics. My concern is the difficulty the Yankees have had with losing teams this year. Boston is winning the games they are supposed to and as it stands right now, it is why they are the first place club in the AL East. Last night, they blew a lead in the ninth inning but still came back to tie it to push the game into extra innings where they won it on a walk-off home run by Mookie Betts. They are finding ways to beat the losing clubs. Sorry, Minnesota. Meanwhile, the Yankees are struggling against those teams. Well, maybe not against the Twins, but the other losing teams. The Twins, who apparently have given up on the season (they are 12 1/2 games out in the Wild Card chase), are a weaker team today after trading infielder Eduardo Escobar to the Arizona Diamondbacks yesterday and reliever Ryan Pressly to the Houston Astros last night. I am sure the Red Sox are salivating although they probably could have used Pressly themselves if only Dave Dombrowski had not stripped the cupboards of quality prospects.
Apparently the weather is impacting J.A. Happ’s ability to get to New York City. His flight was cancelled yesterday so he has yet to join the team. He is expected to arrive today. I am always curious about numbers since there is such a limited selection with so many retired numbers. Happ will take number 34, a number previously worn by A.J. Burnett and Brian McCann. With Zach Britton getting Phil Nevin’s #53, the third base coach will flip the numbers to grab 35. Happ is expected to get the start in the series finale with the Royals tomorrow although we’ll see if Happ’s late arrival alters those plans.
The Yankees received some good news for Sonny Gray. Assuming he is not traded, Gray will make his next start as planned. X-rays on his thumb were negative and he’s feeling much better after the come-backer off his right hand during Thursday’s game.
For today’s double-header, Luis Severino will get the start for the day game. Sevy (14-3, 2.63 ERA) looks to get back on track after a couple of bumpy starts. He’ll be opposed by Brad Keller (3-4, 3.20 ERA). For the night game, yesterday’s scheduled starter, CC Sabathia, will take the mound. CC (6-4, 3.51 ERA) will face Heath Fillmyer (0-1, 2.82 ERA). The Yankees enter the day five games behind the Boston Red Sox. A perfect day would find the Yankees trailing the Sox by only 3 1/2 games when the clock strikes midnight tonight. It’s a great day for two wins and a Red Sox loss. Let’s do this.
Photo Credit: Getty Images (Elsa)
Yanks lose despite win…
When the Yankees acquired Giancarlo Stanton last December, everyone talked about how it was filling a “want” and not a “need”. Sadly, he has become the “need” as he is now the team’s regular starting right fielder for the foreseeable future.
Although I am a little concerned about the defense we give up with Stanton playing right field compared to Aaron Judge, the chip fracture in Judge’s wrist forced the move. I am confident we’re in good hands with Stanton…and August is normally his most torrid month. He’s fully capable of pulling the team on his back and charging toward the finish line.
The loss of Judge hurts, no doubt about it. It will be three weeks before he can pick up a bat again and he’ll need additional time to get back into form so we probably won’t see him again until September. If there is a positive in this, Judge should be rested and ready to go at the season’s most critical point.
Losing the offense provided by Judge and Gary Sanchez, the other guys have to pick it up. At one time, it seemed like we had a glut of outfielders and now we have Shane Robinson on the roster. If he hadn’t been traded yesterday, I am sure that Billy McKinney would have been in the Bronx today. When you look at the Scranton/Wilkes-Barre active roster, there is only one outfielder listed (Mark Payton).
Who replaces Judge on the roster? The most likely candidate, to me, is Tyler Austin given his ability to play first base and the corner outfield positions. It’s not ideal but it is what it is.
The big question is whether the Yankees should make another trade to provide an offensive bridge for the eventual return of Sanchez and Judge. I still like the idea of acquiring Mike Moustakas and we have a firsthand view of the player right now given his team is playing in the Bronx. Moose Tacos would allow the Yankees to use the DH rotation for him and Miguel Andujar. I’d prefer to see Moustakas at third over Neil Walker. The prorated portion of his salary would fit despite the acquisitions of Zach Britton and J.A. Happ. The Yankees have the ability to move some salary to make it fit if necessary. When Judge returns, slide Stanton back to left and use Brett Gardner and Aaron Hicks in a platoon in center. Moustakas could also replace Walker as the backup support at first base for Greg Bird. There’s no guarantee Judge comes back 100%. Wrists can be very troublesome as we’ve seen with past injuries to other players. Moustakas is an excellent hedge.
Photo Credit: Getty Images (Tom Szczerbowski)
I am glad to see that lefty J.A. Happ has joined the Yankees rotation but I thought the cost was excessive. I’ve said all season I like Brandon Drury despite his non-disclosure of health issues earlier this year which caused headaches for all of us. At the time of his acquisition, the Yankees felt there was much more potential in Drury’s bat than he had shown in Arizona and I still believe that to be the case. I would have been okay with the Yankees trading Miguel Andujar for a premium starting pitcher and playing Drury at third even if Andujar has the higher ceiling. Starting pitching is the greater need. That’s a moot point now. The Yankees no longer have the luxury of considering a potential trade with the inclusion of Andujar. Billy McKinney was a tough loss. I think he is going to be a very good Major League outfielder. From a trust standpoint, I have far greater faith in McKinney than I do Clint Frazier. Frazier seems too injury prone at the moment. Multiple concussion issues within a single season are a great concern. There’s no doubt the Toronto Blue Jays won the Happ trade. If the Yankees win the World Series, I’ll probably have a different point of view but as it stands right now, I feel that Blue Jays GM Ross Atkins got the better of Brian Cashman.
It is interesting that our two big mid-season acquisitions are battle-tested AL East veterans. I really enjoyed it when Zach Britton took over for David Robertson in the eighth inning of last night’s game. Britton seemed to be in control from the first pitch and I had an immediate sense of confidence with his presence on the mound. I really like the guy and his stuff. Those deadly sinkers are unlike anything else we have on the pitching staff. It’s been my desire to see the Yankees sign Andrew Miller when the free agency period opens in November, but I have to say that I might prefer Britton. I love Andrew Miller but every time I look up, he’s on the disabled list. Sure, Britton knows the DL about as well as anyone not named Jacoby Ellsbury, but he’s a Yankee and I’d like to see him stay. If the Yanks can’t get Britton to sign, then they should definitely go after Miller. I am not really expecting the Yankees to make a strong effort to re-sign David Robertson, which pains me because he is another guy that I love having on this team. So, in my opinion, Britton should be a top free agent target for the Yankees in a few months.
Photo Credit: NY Post (Paul J Bereswill)
The Yankees did win yesterday despite the loss of Aaron Judge. They beat the Kansas City Royals, 7-2, behind surprisingly good home pitching from Sonny Gray, until he suffered his own hand injury, and a three-run bomb by Didi Gregorius. That throw by Aaron Hicks to nail Alex Gordon at the plate for the final out in the ninth inning was stellar. On paper, it looks like Chasen Shreve did his job. An inning of scoreless relief after the three up-three down performance by Zach Britton. But those three hits that Shreve gave up could have been very costly if not for A-A-Ron’s heroics. I am really hopeful that Britton’s presence will eventually lead to Shreve’s exit. He continues to be the bullpen’s weakest link and my favorite candidate for DFA.
While the Yankees (65-36) were winning, the Boston Red Sox were not. They dropped a 2-1 decision to the Minnesota Twins. Kyle Gibson held the Red Sox hitters at bay, a fact that probably did not go unnoticed by Brian Cashman and his staff. I believe it was TGP’s Daniel Burch who recently suggested the Yankees should go after Gibson. Not many guys have been able to shut down the Red Sox offense this year. Not only did Gibson hold the Sox to four hits and an isolated run over eight innings, he struck out seven and did not allow a homer to the dinger-happy Red Sox lineup. I know the Yankees just acquired J.A. Happ, but I’d gladly take Gibson too if we can get him. After all, we are the Greedy Pinstripes.
So, the Yankees begin play today four and a half games behind Boston in the division. There’s still plenty of baseball to be played. It hurts that we have lost Gary Sanchez and Aaron Judge for the immediate future, but this is still a very good team. Perhaps Brian Cashman is finished with the heavy lifting but then again maybe he isn’t. The next few days should be fun.
Meanwhile, let’s continue to take care of business. Last night, the Yankees played like the team that went on the great run in May and June. They need to continue to be that team. If the Yankees make no further moves, so be it. I have confidence in this group of 25 guys. Well, maybe not Chasen Shreve, or Shane Robinson…or Neil Walker. But this group of guys can win in the coming days and weeks, and will only get better in September when Judgey and El Gary come back. The division is not lost. The race has only begun. Buckle up, boys, let’s take down the Red Sox!
|Photo Credit: AP (Julie Jacobson)|
Yanks avert loss despite ‘outta control’ Chapman…
Let me get this straight. The Yankees take a four-run lead into the ninth inning, bring in closer Aroldis Chapman to finish off the Mets, nearly lose the game, and Chappy has to be “saved” by Chasen Shreve? You’re kidding me, right?
Chapman’s very forgettable (maybe not so forgettable for us) ninth inning was directly attributable to his inability to throw strikes. Only 3 of 19 pitches were strikes and the last 11 pitches he threw were outside of the strike zone. In order, Chapman walked a batter, gave up an infield single, walked two more batters and then plunked a hitter before giving way to the bullpen’s weakest link. Shreve inherited the bases loaded situation with no outs and the Yankees clinging to a two-run lead. In other words, he had to walk a high wire without a net. Fortunately, Shreve and the Yankees held on to beat the New York Mets, 7-6, to even up the series at a game apiece.
|Photo Credit: Getty Images|
Hopefully it was “just a bad day” as Chapman described to the media after the game. Health-wise, Chapman seemed fine, balky knee and all. His meltdown nearly deprived Sonny Gray (7-7) of his first win at Yankee Stadium since May 5th.
The game didn’t start out well when Sonny Gray gave up a homer to Michael Conforto, a solo shot to right, in the second inning for the game’s first run. Michael Kay of the YES Network was quick to point out that Gray has an 8.25 ERA at home compared to a road ERA of 3.62 to illustrate how challenging Yankee Stadium is for the Tennessean.
The Mets’ Steven Matz, a favorite of TGP’s Daniel Burch, kept the Yankees off the board until the fourth inning. The Yankees were able to victimize Mets center fielder Matt den Dekker, who probably wished he was still playing Triple A ball in Las Vegas, for a few runs. Or perhaps it was the Mets fans wished he was still in Vegas. Giancarlo Stanton opened the bottom of the inning with an infield single. Matz had thrown three consecutive balls to give Stanton the perfect hitter’s count but he hit a soft grounder to third instead of one of his tailor-made homers. Oh well, no matter. Stanton was safe at first. After Gary Sanchez struck out (of course), Didi Gregorius laced a triple to deep center that den Dekker dived for but couldn’t reach. Stanton scored and the game was tied. Miguel Andujar followed with a fly to right that was caught by a fan. Miggy was awarded second with a ground-rule double, while Gregorius scored the go-ahead run. Greg Bird’s double to deep center, a ball that bounced off the side of den Dekker’s outstretched glove, scored Andujar. After Brandon Drury flied out, Austin Romine singled to, who else, a diving den Dekker who couldn’t make the catch and Bird scored to make it a 4-1 game.
There was a little drama in the top of the fifth for the Mets when Asdrubal Cabrera was tossed for throwing his bat down after a called strikeout on a checked swing (looked like his wrists broke on the replay to support the call). Cabrera continued barking at the third base umpire (Hunter Wendelstedt), throwing his batting helmet and gloves, before he eventually departed. Cabrera was the second Met to get tossed after hitting coach Pat Roessler was ejected earlier in the game for arguing balls and strikes.
Sonny Gray took the three-run lead into the sixth inning but it unraveled for him. After getting Wilmer Flores to pop out, he walked the next two batters (Michael Conforto and Jose Bautista) to earn his exit from the game. David Robertson came in, striking out Kevin Plawecki after working the count full. He was not so lucky when the next batter, Amed Rosario, drilled a single to right center to score Conforto. Joey Bats slid safely into third. With Matt den Dekker batting, D-Rob was charged with an error on a throw to first to check the runner. The bad throw hit Rosario, sliding back to first base, in the foot with the ball bouncing away, and Joey Bats scored to close the gap to 4-3.
Gray deserved better than his final line…5 1/3 innings, three hits, three runs (two earned), three walks, and six strikeouts…but it put him in position for the win even though the two Mets runs had scored to make it a one-run game.
|Photo Credit: NY Post (Paul J Bereswill)|
The Yankees picked up a run in the bottom of the sixth inning while Steven Matz was still on the mound for the Mets. Miguel Andujar led off for the Yanks with a double to right. Miggy was seemingly in the heart of every scoring opportunity on this day. Greg Bird ended Matz’s day with a single to right, scoring Andujar. It was 5-3 Yankees.
Aaron Judge homered leading off the bottom of the seventh inning against Mets reliever Tim Peterson. The line drive which fought against the wind landed in the Mets bullpen in left field. It was Judge’s 26th home run of the year to make it a three-run game again.
In the bottom of the eighth, the Yankees scored what would prove to be the decisive run. With former Yankee Anthony Swarzak pitching for the Mets, Miguel Andujar led off with a single to center, a ground ball that got past Amed Rosario. After Greg Bird struck out, Brandon Drury singled to right center, advancing Andujar to third. Drury took second on the throw when the ball, over the head of the cutoff man, bounced off third baseman Jose Bautista on a short hop. Austin Romine hit a grounder to second with the infield drawn but the play scored Andujar. The Yankees were up, 7-3.
Michael Kay asked the question “does Aaron Boone bring in Chapman to keep him fresh?” while the Yankees were still batting in the eighth. The answer would soon be provided but it was not the Chapman we wanted to see.
The YES Network illustrated a grand shot of Chapman entering the game from center field (ala Mariano Rivera style) but the effort would not match the entrance. Kevin Plawecki, walk. Amed Rosario, infield single under the glove of the diving Miguel Andujar. Ty Kelly, pinch-hitting for Matt den Dekker, walk. Bases loaded, no outs. With Michael Kay repeatedly saying Chapman had no control, he stayed in the game. Jose Reyes, walk, which pushed Plawecki across home plate for a run. A visit to the mound by pitching coach Larry Rothschild. Rothchild’s visit didn’t help. Brandon Nimmo was hit by a pitch on his upper arm and the Mets had their second run to make it 7-5. Finally, Aaron Boone had seen enough (not sure what took so long) and made the call to the pen for Chasen Shreve, my favorite DFA candidate. Devin Mesoraco hit a grounder to Brandon Drury who stepped on second and completed the double play with a throw to first. The Mets scored to make it a one-run game, but the DP was huge. It brought Wilmer Flores to the plate as the last hope for the Mets. Flores hit a slow roller back to the mound but Shreve picked up the ball and fired it to first to end the game. Yankees win, 7-6. Credit to Shreve for outperforming my expectations. It was his first save of the season and might have been one of the biggest saves of the year for the Yankees.
It was not a great game for Gary Sanchez who finished the day hitless in four at-bats. He struck out twice. I saw one Twitter post that asked how you strike out Sanchez. You throw him a pitch outside the strike zone. Sadly, there is some truth to it.
Despite the horrific outing for Aroldis Chapman, credit to Jonathan Holder and Dellin Betances for their combined two innings of hitless relief with three K’s. If they had failed, the Mets most likely would have won this game.
The Yankees (63-34) picked up a game on the Red Sox. They are back to four and a half games behind the AL East leaders after Boston fell to the Detroit Tigers and rumored trade candidate Mike Fiers, 5-0.
Domingo Acevedo’s stay in the Big Leagues was short-lived. After getting to dress for Saturday’s game (but not pitching), Acevedo was returned to Double-A Trenton after the game. The demotion was not a surprise. Randy Miller of NJ Advance Media for NJ.com had speculated prior to the game that Acevedo was called up as insurance for Sonny Gray. With job complete and no need for his long relief services, Acevedo was sent “home”. Giovanny Gallegos is expected to take Acevedo’s place. I am not quite sure what Tommy Kahnle has to do to get back as he is a Major Leaguer stuck in Triple A like Drury was until recently.
In other Yankees transaction news, Clint Frazier was moved from Scranton/Wilkes-Barre’s 7-day DL to the Yankees 10-day DL for his concussion protocol.
In an interview with the Seattle Times on Friday, Mariners GM Jerry Dipoto said second base belongs to Dee Gordon with the impending return of former Yankee Robinson Cano. Cano, who is eligible to return from his 80-game suspension on August 14th, is expected to see time at first base and designated hitter. It makes sense for the Mariners given Cano is not eligible for post-season play and they’ll need Gordon in top form at second base. But admittedly, it will be weird to see Cano playing first base even if he has the athleticism and bat to play the position.
Mets closer Jeurys Familia, who sat out the first two games of the Mets series with the Yankees, was traded to the Oakland A’s yesterday. The A’s are unexpectedly in the Wild Card hunt and even though Blake Treinen has had a breakout year as their closer, Familia deepens their pen. After the Padres grabbed one of the best prospects in baseball for their closer, I was surprised the best the Mets could do was land the A’s 17th best prospect among the two players they received along with international bonus pool money. But then again, they’re the Mets.
Nick Cafardo of The Boston Globe is reporting Brandon Drury was the headliner in the Yankees offer for Manny Machado. I suppose that’s not a great surprise. Cafardo also mentioned that the general feeling around Baseball is that the Yankees are trying to move Sonny Gray. The thinking is Gray would be better served in a smaller market. Despite his win on Saturday, I can’t say I am in disagreement. But of course it is all dependent upon the level of pitching talent GM Brian Cashman can secure by the trading deadline. If Cash is unable to land at least two quality starters, they’d be foolish to move Gray.
The Yankees and Mets conclude their three-game series tonight. Jacob deGrom (5-4, 1.68 ERA), a pitcher most Yankees fans covet even if a trade with the Mets is improbable, will take on Masahiro Tanaka (7-2, 4.54 ERA). deGrom would like great in Pinstripes, I’m just sayin’. I don’t think it will happen but until the trading deadline passes, it’s nice to think about. I’d love to charge into October with Sevy and deGrom leading the way. Anyway, I hope deGrom pitches great but not too great.
Machado prepares to say goodbye to his O’s uniform…
It’s the All-Star Break and Manny Machado is still a Baltimore Oriole. A few more days anyway. If you believe the reports, the Philadelphia Phillies would seem to be the frontrunner, closely followed by the Los Angeles Dodgers and Milwaukee Brewers. I’ve seen one (most likely fictitious) report that has the Phillies sending third baseman Maikel Franco, shortstop J.P. Crawford, and top pitching prospect Adonis Medina to Baltimore. If that’s the level of talent on the table for Manny, I don’t see why the Yankees can’t beat it. I don’t think they will, but any way you look at it, Manny would make any team’s offense and defense better. For the Yankees, it only works if he is willing to move back to third base, but I’d gladly take the legitimate superstar over the young rookie at third (with no offense to Miguel Andujar who has done a fine job).
It is exciting to think about Manny Machado as a Yankee. The images of him wearing Pinstripes have been tremendous and then there was yesterday’s Instagram pic posted by Aroldis Chapman showing Manny sitting among Chappy, Luis Severino and Gleyber Torres.
I continue to believe that the Orioles will not trade with the Yankees (even though we routinely seem give them quality arms with guys like Richard Bleier and Yefry Ramirez). But for all the excitement about Machado, it will be a letdown if the July trading deadline passes and we end up with only a pedestrian rental like J.A. Happ or Cole Hamels.
If he does not come to the Bronx, I’d like to see Machado end up with the Dodgers. Play him at short this year to free up Chris Taylor to roam positions again. The Dodgers would have a great chance to re-sign Manny if he likes LA. He can hang out with LeBron. Next year, if they are successful in signing him, the Dodgers could move him to third when Corey Seager returns, push Justin Turner to first base, play Max Muncy at second, and keep Cody Bellinger in the outfield. I certainly feel the Dodgers would have a much better chance at signing Manny to a long-term deal than either the Phillies or the Brewers. I’d still rather see Manny with the Yankees, but having him on the Dodgers would be a nice consolation prize (for me anyway). Sorry, it’s not about you, it’s all about me. Kidding…
The Boston Red Sox may hold a 4 ½ game advantage on the Yankees, but the Yankees have the farm system to make significantly greater moves than the Red Sox can make. Boston has the much weaker farm system and as baseball’s top spender, they are maxed out on salary unless they want to encroach into the highest tax penalty category. If we do nothing, it will be a lost opportunity. Same if we come away with an arm that has difficulty keeping runners off home plate. We already have one of those with Sonny Gray. We don’t need to add to our collection.
Probably the only moves that would be more meaningful to me than Manny Machado would be a frontline starter like Jacob deGrom, Noah Syndergaard, Blake Snell, or Madison Bumgarner. Unfortunately, I think the chances of landing one of those guys is about as good as Peter Angelos warming up to the Yankees.
So, this leaves me with the opinion that I am going be disappointed come July 31st. Whether it will be a lot or just a little, I don’t know but I sense that disappointment is headed my way. If there was ever a time for GM Brian Cashman to deliver one of his golden stealth moves, now is the time.
The Yankees have played 95 games so there are only 67 games left. I am excited about the impending returns of both Gary Sanchez and Gleyber Torres which provide immediate upgrades, especially if El Gary can start hitting like we know he can. He has homered the last couple of games for the Scranton/Wilkes-Barre RailRiders so hopefully his timing is coming around quickly.
The next couple of weeks will be very crucial for the Yankees as they attempt to chase down the Red Sox. They don’t have to be in first place by August 1st but they need to make the necessary moves now to ensure that they are properly positioned for the impending sprint to the finish line. Don’t let us down, Cash. This is your time.
Congratulations to Bryce Harper for the hometown Home Run Derby championship over Kyle Schwarber at Nationals Park last evening, but I must admit that I didn’t watch. There was just no drama or intrigue for me with this year’s participants. I admire Rhys Hoskins and I think Mad Max Muncy is a great story but something was missing without Pinstripes. I don’t blame Aaron Judge for passing on it, but without any Yankees, there was simply no motivation for me to watch. I don’t really expect Harper to sign with the Yankees in the off-season so I didn’t have the urge to watch him take swings. Maybe if Manny Machado had been a participant, it would have carried a little more significance. Or even the great Mike Trout. Oh well, next year.
It’s been great to see the pics of Gleyber Torres at the All-Star Game festivities. I’ve missed that guy. I look forward to having his energy back in the Yankees lineup very soon.
Don’t look now, but LHP Nestor Cortes, who spent spring training with the Orioles, is a man on fire. In yesterday’s 5-0 win by the Scranton/Wilkes-Barre RailRiders over the Toledo Mud Hens, Cortes (4-3, 3.11 ERA) threw a one-hitter over six innings while striking out ten. Over his last 38 1/3 innings, Cortes has only allowed three earned runs. This is how I wish Chance Adams was pitching but sadly it is not.
Here’s another shameless plug for Kurt Sutter’s new TV show Mayans MC which makes its premiere on Tuesday, September 4th. The first season (set in a post-Jax Teller/Sons of Anarchy world) will feature ten episodes and tells the story of young Ezekiel “EZ” Reyes, played by JD Pardo. Reyes is fresh out of prison and a prospect in the Santo Padre charter of the Mayans MC, located on the Cali/Mexi border. According to the storyline, EZ must carve out his new identity in a town where he was once the golden boy with the American Dream in his grasp. The show also stars Clayton Cardenas, Edward James Olmos, Sarah Bolger, Michael Irby, Carla Baratta, Antonio Jaramillo, Raoul Max Trujillo, Richard Cabral and Danny Pino. Sons of Anarchy star Emilio Rivera returns as Marcus Alvarez, El Padrino of the Mayans MC. I am looking forward to the ride.
We are still a few days away from the next Yankees game (Friday night at Yankee Stadium against the cross-town Mets) but at least we’ll get to see Luis Severino and Aaron Judge in action tonight (and maybe some shots of Aroldis Chapman and Gleyber Torres as spectators).
As always, Go Yankees!