2020 Spring Training II may soon be a reality…
For the first time in a long time, this feels like this will be a critical week for Major League Baseball. The MLB owners are expected to present a proposal to the Players Association for revenue and finance modifications, in addition to health and safety protocols, in preparation for a proposed shortened season. It still seems like we are in for the continuation of back and forth moves but realistically time is running out, literally, if there is to be a 2020 season. If the season is as foggy next weekend as it is now, optimism for a successful launch of the season will start to fade (if it hasn’t already). I am hopeful the groundwork is laid to give us baseball soon.
All I know is I want baseball. I’ve seen people writing the negatives about a potential 82 game season (increased likelihood of a player hitting .400?) but there’s no doubt this season will carry the proverbial asterisk for whatever happens. I have reconciled with myself that we will not see a traditional version of professional baseball until 2021 at the earliest. Even next year, with a full slate of 162 games, might still feel a little off with the residual effects of the COVID-19 Pandemic. Still, I’d rather have baseball this year than no baseball. We’re in the prime of Gerrit Cole’s career and I don’t want to miss another minute (or pitch). Who knows what challenges an 82 game season will present, but I am willing to endure the pain to experience the joy. The deeper we go without the return of America’s favorite pastime, more potential games are eliminated. To go less than 82 games does start to seem like ‘why bother?’ as it would reward teams with hot starts regardless of the quality of their clubs to succeed over better and more deserving clubs. So, as much as I want baseball back, there is probably a line in the sand and we’re getting close to it. That’s why I am hopeful for optimistic news this week. But that darn realist in me keeps trying to pour water on my party. At least we’re talking baseball again. It has to start somewhere.
As the injured Yankees return to good health, it made me wonder if there has been a player to have off-season Tommy John surgery and yet be ready and available for Opening Day. I didn’t look it up to see if it has ever happened before but it could be the case for Aaron Hicks as he was expected back in June or July. I know, it’s not the same as a pitcher, but still, it will be incredible if Hicks is your starting centerfielder when the games resume. A welcome sight, no doubt, but credit to him for the hard work he’s put in since undergoing surgery to put himself in position to be ready.
|Photo Credit: @ahicks31 via Instagram|
James Paxton and Giancarlo Stanton seem to be other players who will be ready, much to the disappointment of hopefuls for their spots (led by Jonathan Loaisiga, Deivi Garcia, and Clint Frazier, among others). I feel bad for Frazier. I’ve said it before but I’ll say it again. If Frazier is earmarked for another season in Triple A, the Yankees should trade him to create MLB opportunity for the promising player. I do not see any purpose gained by another year in the minors regardless of how much Frazier needs to work on his defense. The only way, at this point, for Frazier to get better for the Major Leagues is to play in the Major Leagues. I’d like to see him succeed with the Yankees. Brett Gardner played very well last year, but with each passing year, he’ll lose a little bit more. It happens to the best of us. You cannot slow down Father Time, especially when you are in your late 30’s. Even in a shortened season, I see the Yankees leaning more heavily on guys like Mike Tauchman as the need to keep Gardy healthy will be stronger than it ever has been. It could create opportunity for Frazier, but then again, maybe not. This will be interesting to watch in the coming months. It would be fun to watch Frazier grab opportunity with both hands and ride it to a very productive MLB season.
|Photo Credit: @clintfrazierr via Instagram|
I am sure the opportunity will be there for the younger pitchers. It’s not like Cole and company will be pitching nine innings (or at least seven) an outing right out of the gate, especially with an abbreviated re-start to Spring Training. Those middle innings need to be filled and expanded rosters will help the younger arms gain exposure. I guess Spring Training this year should be called Summer Training…if it happens. Florida may be nice in March but it’s not exactly where I would want to train in June or July. Yet, veterans and rookies alike will be pitching for success and it will create memorable moments for all of us in whatever form the season takes.
This will be a big year for Paxton. An impending free agent, his performance, even with a proposed shortened season, sets the stage for his next contract. Teams will be watching to see if he can stay healthy which, up to this point, has been a challenge. I like Paxton and I hope this is not his final year in Pinstripes. Yet, with Masahiro Tanaka heading into free agency, it seems like the Yankees will lose at least one. I’d probably like to see Tanaka finish his career in the Bronx, even with the annual threat of Tommy John surgery looming over his elbow. I get frustrated with those obligatory regular season home runs, but Masa turns up the volume in the post-season and you need guys like that to be the last team standing. The Andy Pettitte Effect. So, I guess the question is who would you rather have? Paxton or Tanaka. That’s a tough one. I think Paxton could be a very effective pitcher in his 30’s if he could overcome the injury label, but Masa has been a very good Yankee from Day One and knows how to pitch effectively despite any limitations or obstacles. I know I didn’t really answer the question about which pitcher I would prefer to keep but I’d like to see both Yankee careers continue. I just don’t think it is possible, especially in a year that has seen such a cut in team finances.
I think one of the biggest downsides to the MLB delay this season is the dilution of focus on the Houston cheating scandal. Maybe it will re-surface when the games resume but if the games are played in empty stadiums, the only boos will come from opposing dugouts. Not quite the same as having packed stadium crowds laying it on thick. Jim Crane and his roster of cheaters, in my opinion, will be getting off easy. I really hope I am wrong about this. The Astros disrespected the game we love and it’s unfortunate they will not see the full wrath of penalties and punishment they deserve.
Ready for baseball. MLB, Players Association…the ball is in your hands. Let’s do this.
|Photo Credit: Kim Klement, USA TODAY Sports|
As always, Go Yankees!
|Photo Credit: NJ Advance Media for NJ.com (John Munson)|
Yankees Drop Series Finale to the Rays…
I hate it when the Yankees lose. I know, it’s inevitable. Even a team as great as the Yankees has to lose every now and then. But it stinks when the Yankees clearly had a chance to sweep the four-game series with the Tampa Bay Rays. If they could have mixed in a little offense, they win the game. Instead, they fell 3-1 to the AL East’s third-place team
CC Sabathia, aside from a not-so-good second inning, pitched very well despite giving up ten hits. He held the Rays to those three second inning runs and got his team into the eighth inning before turning over the keys to Adam Warren to finish the game.
|Photo Credit: AP (Bill Kostroun)|
Aaron Hicks tried. His eighth inning home run gave the Yankees their only run for the day. He was 2-for-5 on the day but his pop out to third, with Neil Walker on second base, in the bottom of the ninth sent the Yankees home with the loss.
The game featured the use of an “opener” for the second game in a row for the Rays. Wilmer Font couldn’t hold jobs with the Los Angeles Dodgers or Seattle Mariners earlier this year, but he was able to hold the vaunted Yankees offense to one run through 4 2/3 innings. Chaz Roe, who pitched two innings in three appearances for the Yankees in September 2014, was the winner. Sergio Romo, another failed Dodger, picked up the save. The Yankees offense should have crushed this Rays pitching staff…but didn’t.
According to Mike Mazzeo of the New York Daily News, Giancarlo Stanton is 13-for-64 with runners in scoring position. Ouch!
|Photo Credit: AP (Bill Kostroun)|
The loss allowed the Boston Red Sox (49-24) to creep back into a first place tie with the Yankees although the Yanks (46-21) still lead by percentage points, .687 to .671. The Rays sit 15 games behind the leaders.
The highlight of the day yesterday was Nick Swisher’s home run for the Old Timer’s Day game. Honestly, I wish that I could go through life with the same passion as energy as Nick Swisher. His love for life and the Yankees is so strong.
|Photo Credit: NJ Advance Media for NJ.com (John Munson)|
This was certainly a beautiful sight to see yesterday. Hard to believe that Andy Pettitte not only wears 46 but is 46 and is now a grandfather. He still graces the Yankee Stadium mound with his presence like he always did.
|Photo Credit: NJ Advance Media for NJ.com (John Munson)|
Today is an odd day. The Yankees make up the suspended game from May 15th (tied 3-3, top of the sixth inning) and the rain-out from May 16th at Nationals Park in Washington, D.C. The Red Sox are off today so if the Yankees lose both games today, they’ll fall behind the Sox. Technically, they can split and maintain the first place tie. Thanks to the weather, the Sox have played six more games than the Yankees so it will be shortened to four games after today.
After the game, the Yankees return home to Yankee Stadium to face the Seattle Mariners. The M’s, coming off a weekend split with the Red Sox, are the Kings of One-Run Games. They’ve won 23 one-run games this year and have won as many games as the Yankees entering play today. The Mariners, minus the suspended Robinson Cano, are currently 46-26. They’re off today so the Seattle players get the run of New York City while the Yankees play in the Nation’s Capitol.
My Brandon Drury watch shows that the Yankees third baseman is continuing to tear up the International League. He was 2-for-3 with two doubles and a run scored in yesterday’s 4-2 loss to the Syracuse Chiefs. The dude has been an on-base machine and would pair very well right now with Miguel Andujar at third in the Bronx. Drury’s current slash line with the Scranton/Wilkes-Barre RailRiders is .360/.470/.529 with a .999 OPS. #FreeDrury
|Photo Credit: Times Leader|
As excited as I am about the impending return of Drury, the news that Jacoby Ellsbury will soon resume baseball activities was somewhat of a gut punch. I know, the guy has some baseball talent but is it wrong that I don’t want him on my team? For a team that finds it so difficult to squeeze all their talented Major League-ready players onto a 25-man roster, Ellsbury would take a spot away from a more deserving player. Maybe the guy returns like it is 2011 or maybe he comes back for a temporary stay until his next trip to the disabled list. My money is on the latter. But even if he can still give something, let him do it for someone else. Go back to Boston (even if we pay the freight), I don’t really care. I think the funniest line on Twitter yesterday was that Nick Swisher has done more at Yankee Stadium this year than Jacoby Ellsbury has.
Today is a new day. One win would be great, two wins even better. Let’s Go Yankees!
|Photo Credit: Getty Images (Jim McIsaac)|
Yanks win again behind their Ace…
I remember in 2016 when Luis Severino was struggling as a starter and couldn’t buy a win. He was 0-8 as a starter and ended up in the pen. Many of us (well, namely me) wondered if he was better suited for a role in relief rather than the rotation. Fast-forward to June 2018 and Sevy is 10-2 with his name easily insertable among the league’s best. I can never say that I missed my calling as a Major League scout as I never saw Severino as the ace he has become. I’ll just chalk this up to one of those grand moments when I love it when I am wrong.
I love the confidence you have with games featuring Severino. Sure, he may lose like he did against the recent game against the New York Mets, but he’ll have his team in the game win or lose. On Saturday, he mowed down the Tampa Bay Rays on the way to a 4-1 victory for his 10th win of the season. He is tied with Cleveland’s Corey Kluber and Washington’s Max Scherzer for most wins in the Major League Baseball. His 2.09 ERA is second only to Justin Verlander’s 1.61 in the AL, and third behind Verlander and Jacob deGrom of the New York Mets (1.55) overall. On the mound or on the field, Sevy can do it all.
|Photo Credit: Newsday (Joseph D Sullivan)|
Against the Rays, Severino was very stingy with hits, giving up only three over eight innings. He walked two and struck out nine, handing over a scoreless game to the bullpen. Sadly, Chasen Shreve blew it when he allowed a home run to Matt Duffy to open the top of the ninth. Shreve gave up a triple to the next batter, which forced the Yankees to bring in Aroldis Chapman to close out the gem for Severino. It took all of ten pitches for Chapman to record his 20th save but Shreve clearly left a bad taste on an otherwise beautiful afternoon.
It was probably one of those games where the Yankees should have scored many more runs than they did. They certainly had their chances. With runners at first and second and two outs in the bottom of the second, the Yankees scored a run when Gleyber Torres hit a shot bounced up and off the glove of Rays third baseman Matt Duffy into left field for a double.
In the bottom of the third, the Yankees picked up another run when Aaron Judge opened the inning with a double to deep center and was brought home on a single to left by Didi Gregorius. Gregorius advanced to second on the throw, but like the second inning, the Yankees were not able to capitalize on more runs against the Rays rotation by committee.
|Photo Credit: Getty Images|
The fifth inning brought previews of coming attractions when Giancarlo Stanton and Gary Sanchez opened the bottom of the inning with back-to-back home runs.
|Photo Credit: AP (Adam Hunger)|
This is an example of what can easily happen with these two guys get on a roll. It’s scary to think the team is 46-20 and there are still guys on the team with subpar numbers. That would be it for Yankees scoring but with Luis Severino on the mound, all was good. Well, at least until the momentary scare by Chasen Shreve in the ninth inning.
The Yankees picked up ground in the AL East with the win, thanks to a Red Sox loss in Seattle. The Mariners got a career game out of 33-year-old Wade LeBlanc, who spent spring training with the Yankees. LeBlanc and the M’s bullpen held the Sox (48-24) to two hits in the 1-0 victory. The Yankees now lead Boston by a game and they extended baseball’s best home record to 26-10. It is an odd stat that the Yankees have the best overall winning percentage in the MLB, yet three teams have at least 46 wins like the Yankees (Mariners) or more (Red Sox and Astros).
In the ‘what more does he have to do?’ category, Brandon Drury continues to rake for the Scranton/Wilkes-Barre RailRiders. He was 3-for-5 in yesterday’s 9-7 win over the Syracuse Chiefs, driving in three runs. In 38 games for the RailRiders, Drury is batting .353/.463/.511 with .974 OPS. There’s no doubt Drury will soon find himself back in the Bronx where he belongs.
The Yankees have made a few minor moves the last couple of days. On Friday, they traded RHP Chad Whitmer, 23, to the Milwaukee Brewers for undisclosed international bonus pool money. Whitmer was drafted in the tenth round of last year’s MLB Draft. Yesterday, the Yankees acquired minor league infielder Wendell Rijo as the player to be named later in the earlier deal that sent catcher Erik Kratz to the Brewers. Rijo, 22, was originally signed by the Boston Red Sox (2013) but has never been able to capitalize on his talent with consistent production. In Double A this year, Rijo’s slash line is .200/.304/.375. He has 4 homers and 14 RBI’s in 32 games. Oh well, he has a chance for a ‘do-over’ in the farm system of America’s favorite team.
Today is always one of the most exciting days annually at Yankee Stadium. Old Timer’s Day. We are privileged for every year that allows an appearance by the great and legendary Edward Charles “Whitey” Ford, 89.
|Photo Credit: Sports Illustrated|
It is the first of hopefully many for the other greatest left-hander in Yankees history, Andy Pettitte. Jason Giambi will be there, sporting a Gleyber Torres jersey, as will the always-bubbly Nick Swisher. So many wonderful former Yankees (forty in total), five widows, and the team’s long-time former trainer will be present for roll call at the 72nd Annual Old Timer’s Day at Yankee Stadium. Lovin’ the Pinstripes is a daily occurrence but today reigns supreme as a day of Yankees Pride and Passion.
|Photo Credit: Getty Images (Mike Stobe)|
Johnny Lasagna captures first MLB win in debut…
The much-anticipated Major League debut of Jonathan Loaisiga, a/k/a Johnny Lasagna, was a great success. Domingo German didn’t win his first game until Thursday, his seventh start of the season and his 12th appearance overall. Loaisiga, who was in Double A earlier this week, delivered five solid innings, holding the Tampa Bay Rays to three hits and no runs, en route to the Yankees’ 5-0 win. He threw 91 pitches, while walking an uncharacteristic four walks for the strike-thrower and sending six to the bench by strikeout.
I’d blame the walks on jitters for pitching at Yankee Stadium for the first time but Loaisiga had the calmness of a savvy veteran on the mound. A very good impression left by the young right-hander who picked up first first Major League win. During the game, someone tweeted that Domingo German and Loaisiga are better than last year’s duo of Luis Cessa and Caleb Smith. That’s an understatement. When Cessa pitches, I always feel it’s inevitable he’ll give up 3 to 4 early runs and the team will need to rely upon its offense for any hope. To Smith’s defense, he has pitched much better for the Miami Marlins this year (5-6, 3.75 ERA, 83 strikeouts in 72 innings) but he certainly didn’t “wow” anyone last year like German and Loaisiga have done. His Yankees career stands at 0-1, 7.71 ERA in nine games (two starts).
The nice thing about the respective jobs this year’s rookie pitchers have provided is the elimination of the immediate desperation for the Yankees to acquire proven Major League pitching talent for the stretch run. Sure, the Yankees will no doubt acquire another proven starter by the July trading deadline but the performance of the young guys will help GM Brian Cashman to acquire pitching on his terms as opposed to other team smelling blood in the water and circling the Yankees with demands of over-payment.
I thought the fourth inning was a terrific moment for Loaisiga. With one out, Wilson Ramos recorded the first hit off Loaisiga with a single to right. A ground out by Joey Wendle moved Ramos to second for the second out of the inning, but the Rays loaded the bases on another single and a walk. Yankee Stadium and the pressure of the situation could have been overwhelming for Loaisiga but after several mound visits, Loaisiga was able to settle down and ended the threat with a strikeout of Christian Arroyo (the return for when the Rays traded Yankee killer Evan Longoria to the San Francisco Giants). It was a huge moment for the youngster, especially with the Yankees clinging to a 1-0 lead at that point.
Let’s talk about that 1-0 advantage. Didi Gregorius, who disappeared during the month of May (bat, not defense) has returned with a vengeance. His homer to right in the third inning gave the Yankees their first run of the game. He was 3-for-4, with two runs scored and the RBI on the homer. No strikeouts for Sir Didi despite the presence of the hard-throwing Nathan Eovaldi on the mound. It’s great to see Gregorius back in form. I had to go back and watch the video replay of Didi’s first Major League home run at Yankee Stadium while he was a member of the Arizona Diamondbacks to re-live the excitement on his face and holding the knowledge that he’d one day be a star at the Stadium.
I felt bad for Eovaldi. Well, not bad enough that I wanted to see him emerge with a victory over his former teammates. Nevertheless, it has been a long, hard road for Nasty Nate with his Tommy John surgery, the second of his career, and subsequent injuries since his release by the Yankees. He pitched into the eighth inning and had held the Yankees to two runs until the Yankees loaded the bases on two hits and an intentional walk. Exit Eovaldi and enter fellow multiple Tommy John recipient Jonny Venters, the former Atlanta Braves reliever, who, after striking out Greg Bird, served up a bases clearing double to Gary Sanchez with all the runs charged to Eovaldi. So, the final pitching line does not show how well Eovaldi pitched on this night. I wish him success as he moves forward with his Rays career, but if he pitches too well, he’ll find himself on another team next month.
Hopefully the double is a positive sign for El Gary. The hit helped him evade an ‘0-fer’ night and left him with a season batting average of .189. I’d love to see him follow up with a couple of hits today to get his bat going and return him to his status as one of the key bats in the Yankees lineup. The Yankees need Sanchez playing like we know he can for the long summer ahead.
|Photo Credit: Bill Kostroun|
Another stellar job by the Yankees bullpen. Jonathan Holder, David Robertson, Dellin Betances, and Adam Warren, in that order, held Tampa to one hit, no runs, a walk and four strikeouts. I wouldn’t want to say anything to Betances right now. He’s like a guy throwing a no-hitter in the late innings. We would not want to jinx that bad boy.
I thought the Yankees would remain in second place in the AL East last night when I went to bed. The Boston Red Sox had jumped all over Seattle Mariners starter James Paxton with six runs (five earned). Paxton couldn’t make it out of the third inning. The Sox had a 6-3 lead when I shut the TV off. It was nice to wake up to news that the Mariners had rallied against Sox starter Rick Porcello and the Boston bullpen for a 7-6 win. The loss dropped Boston (48-23) into a first place tie with the Yankees (45-20) although the better team (Yankees of course) lead by sixteen percentage points (.692 to .676).
To make room for Jonathan Loaisiga, the Yankees optioned Tyler Austin to Triple A. While I wish Austin could have hit well enough to stay, I really hope this eventually leads Brandon Drury back to the Major Leagues where he belongs. I have been intrigued to see what the Yankees have with pitcher A.J. Cole but at this point, he is offering nothing and does not seem to be an option for any meaningful role. Therefore, when the Yankees complete this current stretch of consecutive games, I’d like to see them DFA Cole to open a spot for Drury. I am appreciative of the job Neil Walker has done but I’d trade Walker if necessary to get Drury back to the Bronx. It seems like almost every trade suggestion by Yankees Twitter now includes Drury but I’d love to find a way to keep him and have him provide infield support for Miguel Andujar, Gleyber Torres, and Greg Bird. I’d trade Andujar for the right pitcher to open third base for Drury but of course I’ve been a fan of Drury all along despite the “headaches” he caused the Yankees and their fans.
How great was it to see Andy Pettitte pitching batting practice before yesterday’s game? I love that guy. Friday was Andy’s 46th birthday which made it very appropriate for him to be at Yankee Stadium. He’s in town, along with a number of other former Yankees greats, for Sunday’s Old Timer’s Day. Pettitte has always been one of my favorite Yankees. With no disrespect to Larry Rothschild, I am hopeful that Pettitte will one day return to the Yankees as the team’s pitching coach. There was talk Pettitte might have joined Lance Berkman as his pitching coach if Berkman had gotten the Rice University coaching gig, but that job went to Matt Bragga on Friday. Congratulations to Andy for the recent birth of his first grandchild. Hard to believe that #46 is now a grandfather. Andy looks like he could still suit up for the Yankees and deliver a win.
|Photo Credit: Mike Mazzeo/@MazzNYDN (Twitter)|
It’s Luis Severino day. The Yankees ace (9-2, 2.27 ERA) will be opposed by Tampa’s Ryne Stanek (1-1, 2.76 ERA). Let keep this two-game winning streak going and take the series against the Rays today. It is a good day and a great day for a Yankees victory.
The 2018 Old Timer’s Day Rosters are loaded…
Yankees Old Timer’s Day is always an exciting event each year. I love the introductions and watching former Yankees greats take the field to the massive cheers of the home crowd. I cannot think of another team that honors its alumni as well as the Yankees. While I am grateful for each year that allows legendary Hall of Famer Whitey Ford to return to Yankee Stadium, the name which excited me the most this year was Andy Pettitte. It’s always fun when Andy makes a brief appearance during Spring Training or shows up while the team is on the road in Houston, but nothing is going to match his presence in the Bronx wearing the famed Pinstripes and the interlocking N-Y baseball cap. It will be Andy’s first appearance at Old Timer’s Day. The two greatest lefties in Yankees history will share the same field at the same time. Sweet…
I am also excited to see fellow first-timer Jason Giambi who will gleefully be sporting a Gleyber Torres jersey for the day.
While I am not a fan of Yankees President Randy Levine, I do not appreciate the bitterness expressed by former Yankee Jim Leyritz who did not receive an invitation. Leyritz directed his anger at Levine. He took to Twitter yesterday with “Yes it’s a joke already. Randy Levine and Debbie Tymon (Yankees SVP, Marketing) have said I didn’t do enough in Yankee history to be invited. How many sliders did they hit. Lol” I am appreciative of Leyritz’s contributions to the Yankees but he was never a star nor considered a key performer. Maybe the results of the 1996 World Series would have been different if Leyritz didn’t hit the eighth-inning three-run homer in Game 4 to tie the game which the Yankees eventually won in extra innings on their way to the championship in six games. I have no problem with the Yankees’ decision to pass on an invitation to Leyritz. Professionalism and character are part of the package for the invitees.
Here is the complete list of this year’s Old Timer’s Day participants:
Jesse Barfield (RF, 1989-92 Yankees)
Ron Blomberg (DH…MLB’s first, 1B, RF, 1969-76 Yankees)
Brian Boehringer (RHP, 1995-97, 2001 Yankees)
Aaron Boone (3B, 2003 Yankees; Manager, 2018-Present)
Jim Bouton (RHP, 1962-68 Yankees)
Scott Bradley (C, 1984-85 Yankees)
Dr Bobby Brown (3B, SS, 1946-54 Yankees)
Homer Bush (2B, SS, 1997-98, 2004 Yankees)
David “Coney” Cone (RHP, 1995-2000 Yankees)
Johnny Damon (OF, 2006-09 Yankees)
Ron Davis (RHP, 1978-81 Yankees)
Russell Earl “Bucky” Dent (SS, 1977-82 Yankees)
Al Downing (LHP, 1961-69 Yankees)
Brian Doyle (2B, SS, 3B, 1978-80 Yankees)
Mariano Duncan (2B, SS, LF, 1996-97 Yankees)
John Flaherty (C, 2003-05 Yankees)
Edward Charles “Whitey” Ford, “The Chairman of the Board” (LHP, 1950-67 Yankees)
Jason Giambi (1B, DH, 2002-08 Yankees)
Ron “Gator” Guidry (LHP, 1975-88 Yankees)
Charlie Hayes (3B, 1992, 1996-97 Yankees)
Reginald Martinez “Reggie” Jackson (RF, 1977-81 Yankees)
Dion James (OF, 1992-96 Yankees)
Jay Johnstone (OF, 1978-79 Yankees)
Scott Kamieniecki (RHP, 1991-96 Yankees)
Don Larsen (RHP, 1955-59 Yankees)
Graeme Lloyd (LHP, 1996-98 Yankees)
Hector Lopez (LF, 3B, 2B, 1959-66 Yankees)
Lee Mazzilli (1B, OF, 1982 Yankees)
Ramiro Mendoza (RHP, 1996-2002, 2005 Yankees)
Gene Monahan (Trainer, 1973-2011 Yankees)
Jeff “Nellie” Nelson (RHP, 1996-2000, 2003 Yankees)
Paul “The Warrior” O’Neill (RF, 1993-2001 Yankees)
Andy Pettitte (LHP, 1995-2003, 2007-13 Yankees)
Lou “Sweet Lou” Piniella (LF, 1974-84 Yankees; Manager, 1986-87, 1988)
Willie Randolph (2B, 1976-88 Yankees; Coach, 1994-2004)
Bobby Richardson (2B, 1955-66 Yankees)
Mickey “Mick the Quick” Rivers (CF, 1976-79 Yankees)
Nick Swisher (RF, 1B, 2009-12 Yankees)
Frank Tepedino (LHP, 1967-1971, 1972 Yankees)
Marcus Thames (OF, 2002 Yankees; Coach, 2016 to Present, Yankees)
Roy White (LF, 1965-79 Yankees)
Elston Howard widow Arlene Howard (C, LF, 1B, 1955-66 Yankees)
Jim “Catfish” Hunter widow Helen Hunter (RHP, 1975-79 Yankees)
Alfred Manual “Billy” Martin widow Jill Martin (2B, 3B, SS, 1950-57 Yankees; Manager, 1975-78, 1979, 1983, 1985, 1988)
Thurman Munson widow Diana Munson (C, 1969-79 Yankees)
Bobby Murcer widow Kay Murcer (OF, 1965-74, 1979-83 Yankees)
The 72nd Annual Old Timer’s Day will be on Father’s Day, Sunday, June 17th prior to the Yankees scheduled game against the Tampa Bay Rays. Heck, Rays Manager Kevin Cash (C, 2009 Yankees) might want to join the festivities.
As badly as it hurt to watch the Texas Rangers make mince meat out of the Yankees pitching staff on Wednesday night, it was probably salt in the wound to watch Danny Duffy and the Kansas City Royals bullpen hold the same Rangers to five hits and two runs last night. Duffy (2-6, 6.14 ERA) took a shutout into the eighth inning. Seriously? I hope CC Sabathia was watching and taking notes.
Hats off to the Tampa Bay Rays for turning back a furious Red Sox rally to beat Boston, 6-3, yesterday. The loss reduced the Red Sox lead over the Yankees in the AL East to only one game. The Red Sox entertain the Atlanta Braves (29-19, 1st in the NL East) at Fenway Park for a three-game weekend series starting tonight. Glad to see them finally play some winning teams.
The Major League career of reliever Ryan Bollinger lasted one game without an appearance. He was returned to Double A-Trenton after sitting in the bullpen for Wednesday night’s loss in Texas. His spot will presumably be filled by Tommy Kahnle who is expected to be activated off the disabled list today. Greg Bird is also expected to return this weekend. I still think Tyler Austin will be the odd man out with a free bus ticket to Scranton, PA.
Hopefully Luis Severino gets the Yankees back on the winning track tonight against the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim. Given that we will not see Shohei Ohtani pitch this weekend, there’s no doubt he’ll be penciled in at DH to take his shots at Yankees pitching. I am sure if he watched the Yankees-Rangers highlights, he is drooling at the prospect. I trust Sevy will set the right tone for the series.
Yankees 8, Red Sox 0…
When CC Sabathia was named the #2 starter at the beginning of the year, I thought it was comical. Now, he’s probably the ace. This vintage run of excellent starts by Sabathia has been tremendous and much needed. I know that he has benefited from his talks with Andy Pettitte about transitioning to an older pitcher but after a few starts to forget earlier this year, I had given him up for dead. Then, suddenly he has re-emerged as a dominant pitcher. I am not sure how long this will last, but I’m lovin’ the ride.
Credit: Randy Miller-NJ Advance Media for NJ.com
A night after a disappointing loss, Sabathia (7-2) shut the Red Sox down with eight solid innings. He held the Sox to 5 hits and struck out 5 in the shutout. He did not walk anyone. When he wasn’t pitching great, he was making excellent bare-handed defensive plays, like stopping the Jackie Bradley, Jr chopper in the fifth and throwing the runner out at first with a runner at third. It was a critical play as Josh Rutledge had opened the inning with a triple. The runner was eventually left stranded, thanks in very large part to CC’s great play on JBJ.
All of CC’s pitches were working, but it was the deadly slider that left the Sox batters shaking their heads. It’s an interesting stat that it was the first time CC has shutout an opponent with at least eight innings pitched since September 2012.
I expected Sabathia to tire in the later innings but he was still cruising in the eighth (retiring the final 12 batters he faced). Manager Joe Girardi made the right decision to pull CC after eight innings and 95 pitches. Jonathan Holder finished up in relief.
I wonder if we can get Pettitte to come to New York to talk to Masahiro Tanaka. I don’t know but it’s cool to write Pettitte’s name in a blog post again. He would make a good replacement for pitching coach Larry Rothschild one day.
As for the offense, it came from a very unlikely source. The forgotten man and the guy on almost everybody’s list for roster reduction when Greg Bird returns delivered in a big way. Chris Carter, who entered the game with a .183 batting average, blasted a three-run homer to left-center in the Yankees’ four-run fourth inning that gave the Yankees some breathing room in a game, which up to that point, had been a pitcher’s duel. The Yankees tacked on three more runs late, including a RBI single from Carter in the eighth. Carter was 3-for-4 on the night, with 4 RBI’s. He raised his batting average by 19 points to .202.
Credit: Randy Miller-NJ Advance Media for NJ.com
Carter should have had two home runs, but Mookie Betts was aided by a Yankees fan to make a leaping catch to rob Carter in the sixth. The ball seemingly was over the wall but landed in the fan’s hands and rolled back into Betts’ glove. Girardi tried to challenge but the umps ruled that he was outside of the 30-second window to appeal. I’m glad that play didn’t factor into the outcome of the game.
Didi Gregorius got the scoring started in the third with a solo shot off Red Sox starter and AL Cy Young Award winner Rick Porcello. Porcello has not been the same pitcher he was last year (he is now 3-8) but when he started the game strong, I had been concerned that he was finding the success he had enjoyed last year. Thankfully, it was not meant to be as Carter and Company gave CC an abundance of runs, one night after they fell one short.
With the win, the Yankees (33-23) moved back up to two games ahead of the Red Sox. The Baltimore Orioles came up with another extra inning win over the Pittsburgh Pirates to remain 2 1/2 games back.
Odds & Ends…
It is being reported that Masahiro Tanaka will make his next start as scheduled. I think this is a mistake. Something is clearly wrong and to allow the pitcher to work out his issues in-game is not a smart move in my opinion. This seems to be psychological as best I can tell. I think Tanaka needs to get his head straight first, then work on the pitches. That’s why I would give him time away from the rotation. If I owned the Yankees, I’d send Tanaka back home to Japan for a week or two. Let him regroup, and then have him try to find what he had during spring training. Chad Green is capable of a spot start or even Adam Warren. Luis Cessa and Bryan Mitchell are also available for call-up. Any of the four are capable of doing better than the recent Tanaka performances. I’d love a spot start by Chance Adams but I agree that he’s not ready and then there’s the small issue of finding room on the 40-man roster.
I was going to rip NESN’s Jerry Remy for his comments that Tanaka should not be allowed to have a translator during mound visits, but then he owned up to his mistake and apologized.
Joe Giglio of NJ Advance Media for NJ.com reported yesterday that an anonymous GM has indicated he would give 2018 free agent-to-be Bryce Harper a 15-year deal for $600 million. If that’s the price tag, I have no problem with an outfield of Aaron Judge, Dustin Fowler, Clint Frazier and Aaron Hicks.
Oddly, the Yankees and the Scranton/Wilkes-Barre RailRiders have identical win-loss records at 33-23. The RailRiders won their 33rd game with a 5-1 win over the Rochester Red Wings. Gleyber Torres had the go-ahead two-run double in the 7th inning and scored on a wild pitch in the 9th. Torres was 2-for-4. Tyler Austin also had a run-scoring double in the 9th.
I love Yankees prospects but I saw that the St Louis Cardinals have assigned a young outfielder by the name of Matt Fiedler to the State College Spikes (High A). A 9th round pick in the 2016 Draft, the 22 year old right-handed leftfielder hit .325 with 4 homers and 31 RBI’s last year for Johnson City Cardinals (the 2016 Appalachian League Champions). I hope the Eagan, MN native continues his upward climb in the Cardinals organization. I’d buy his jersey if he makes it to the Show. I haven’t been this excited since, well, Jay Fiedler was a Miami Dolphin although Vernon Fiddler in the Stanley Cup Finals for the Nashville Predators is kinda neat…
Credit: University of Minnesota
Have a great Thursday! I don’t want much today…just a Yankees win!
Credit: Associated Press
CC Sabathia. What to do…
There’s no doubt we would not have celebrated a World Series championship in 2009 if not for the efforts of one Carsten Charles Sabathia, Jr. For the first three years of his contract with the Yankees, he was the epitome of an Ace. I would never want to dismiss the contributions he has made to the Yankees organization or the value he has held as a leading voice in the clubhouse.
The times they are a-changin (with a hat tip to Bob Dylan). Sabathia is now 36 and is clearly no longer the pitcher he once was. He’ll be 37 in a couple of months, and despite his long talks with Andy Pettitte, he has not successfully made the transition to an older pitcher. I was fooled for the first couple of starts this year, but we’ve seen the real Sabathia over the last few starts…and it hasn’t been pretty.
At age 32 and before, CC could be counted on for double-digit wins every year. From age 33 forward, last year’s 9 wins has been the season high. Betting whether or not Sabathia passes last season’s win total is not a bet I would make even if I was using your money. Pro Sports can be illogical at times when certain players start because of high contracts or past performance even though there are younger, more talented players waiting in the wings. Years ago, a friend told me that baseball players should be paid a flat base salary and then commissions for production. Applying that to different positions and players is much easier said than done, but the core logic that players should be paid for today’s production (not yesterday) makes so much sense to me. We’re in the final year of Sabathia’s contract with $25 million remaining. Does Sabathia deserve a spot in the rotation simply because he is the team’s highest paid player? If he is not producing, then no. Why pay money to lose when you can win?
In looking at the Yankees rotation, if they made a trade for a frontline starting pitcher, who do you pull? At this point, Masahiro Tanaka, Michael Pineda, and Luis Severino are locked in. The latter two have shown signs of being a part of the next championship run. Jordan Montgomery has been a very pleasant surprise who will continue to get better. So, realistically, the loser would have to be Sabathia. I don’t know that I’d pull Sabathia for Chad Green or Luis Cessa, but Chance Adams is charging fast for the Major Leagues. He may not be ready now, but his time is rapidly approaching. If the Yankees go out and trade for someone like Pittsburgh’s Gerrit Cole, I’d gladly part with Clint Frazier, Justus Sheffield and others to bring the talented young pitcher to the Bronx. For Sabathia, I’d pull out a Michael Kay line, “See ya!”.
There’s no way that Sabathia is pulling on the pinstripes in 2018. We are approaching the point where every start could be his last in the Bronx. If he continues to thwart winning streaks, then it is time to cut our losses. Swallow the remainder of the $25 mil and move on.
Thanks for the memories, CC. We’ll save you a place for Old Timer’s Day…
Credit: Andrew Theodorakis/New York Daily News
I have mixed feelings about Aaron Judge’s appearance on the May 15th cover of Sports Illustrated. I grew up at a time where it was a curse to appear on the cover. So, I still have those thoughts in the back of my head even if bad things never happen. I have been quite pleased with Judge’s season so far and he gives New York a potential superstar. But admittedly, I liked it better when Judge was able to out-produce expectations. With heightened expectations, can he sustain the production? That will be one of the keys for the rest of the season. We’ll inevitably hit a stretch where he can’t (hit). The ebbs and flows of Baseball ensures that everyone stays humble. So, for now, congrats Aaron, but please hit a homer on May 16th (Yankees are off on the 15th) so that I know the SI Cover is not a jinx.
I’d like to send out thoughts and prayers to Pittsburgh Pirates starting pitcher Jameson Taillon, whom the Yankees faced on April 22nd in an 11-5 victory over the Pirates. He underwent surgery for suspected testicular cancer earlier this week. Hopefully it was caught early and he’ll make a full and complete recovery. Taillon is one of the game’s promising young talents and I look for many future years of his participation. All the best to Jameson on his road to a winning recovery. Here is a tweet that he sent out after the surgery:
I think all Baseball fans support Taillon. Well written words by the tall young right-hander. Here’s looking forward to the day that he is able to take the mound at PNC Park again.
Have a great Thursday! Let’s hose the ‘Stros!
I have to admit that I wasn’t a believer. I did not think that CC Sabathia could make the transformation from a young dominant power pitcher to a crafty veteran at the top end of a starting rotation. Weight issues, age, injuries, alcoholism…whatever the cause…I didn’t think he could do it. He has proved me wrong.
After Saturday’s 3-2 win over the St Louis Cardinals, Sabathia leads the team with a 2-0 mark, compiling a 1.47 ERA in 18 1/3 innings with 11 strikeouts. While the most dominant single game belongs to Michael Pineda, Sabathia has been the most dominant overall.
I had gotten to the point where I thought of Sabathia as a five inning starter. Yet, here he was on the mound on April 15, 2017 at 36 years of age, throwing 7 1/3 innings, allowing only three hits and one run with just one walk. He punched out six. THAT was not the Sabathia that we had come to expect in recent years.
I am so glad that he has been able to make the transformation. I don’t know if it is the time he has spent with Yankees legend Andy Pettitte but we tend to hear Pettitte’s name come up a lot in interviews with not only Sabathia but other pitchers when they talk about success. Pettitte’s annual visits to training camp for a few days always seem to have such a tremendous impact. I think Pettitte is an assistant on a high school coaching staff these days, but I would love for his return to New York as an eventual successor to Larry Rothschild.
At the beginning of the year, I felt it was obvious this would be Sabathia’s final year in Pinstripes. With the youth movement in full bloom, I didn’t see a future for Sabathia or a veteran’s salary in Team Hal’s budget for 2018. If Sabathia expects to make his 2017 salary ($25 million) next year, I still think it’s unlikely he returns. He’ll have to take a pay cut to stay and perhaps he will. But for now, I am just enjoying the ride. I love watching Sabathia’s accomplishments this year, and I know that he is a huge influence on the younger pitchers. If Sabathia, Pineda and Severino can continue pitching like their most recent starts, this is definitely a team that can outperform expectations in 2017. Of course, Greg Bird does need to start mixing in a hit or two.
I was reading an interview with Jordan Montgomery this morning. Or should I call him “Gumby”? I had to laugh when I saw him refer to the famous Serendipity 3 on 60th Street as “some dessert place”. Give him time. He’ll figure the City out. If he keeps pitching like we know he can, he’ll be here for a very long time.
With the inability of Matt Holliday to play on Saturday due to lower back stiffness, I hope this is not a sign of things to come. His final years with the Cardinals, while he was still playing in the field, came with significant DL stints. I had hoped the ‘DH-only’ role would help preserve his health. Hopefully, this is just an aberration and he’ll back with bat in hand shortly. The loss of Holliday did show the significance of having Chris Carter on the roster as Carter provided what proved to be the winning run in Saturday’s game with a run-scoring single in the sixth inning.
As for Greg Bird, he needs to figure this out soon. His 1-for-26 start is dreadful. I remain hopeful that he’ll work through the challenge and will start to hit like he did in Spring Training. He is too much of a professional hitter for the current sample to be representative of his ability going forward. No offense to Chris Carter, but I strongly prefer Bird at first in any scenario. I wish that Tyler Austin was closer to returning but he’s not an option for now and there’s no one else in the organization that would be superior to the current duo of Bird and Carter. Rob Refsnyder is only hitting .192 in AAA and Ji-Man Choi is not on the 40-man roster. Choi is batting .280 but he has only 2 RBI’s and no home runs.
I hate to be politically-incorrect, but the words of former Arizona Diamondback Mark Grace resonate in my ears when I think of Bird’s slump. “A slumpbuster is if a team’s in a slump, or if you personally are in a slump, you gotta find the fatest, gnarliest, grossest chick and you just gotta lay the wood to her. And when you do that, you’re just gonna have instant success. And it could also be called jumping on a grenade for the team.” Bird, just do it…take one for the team.
Have a great Sunday! Hopefully, it will be a sweeping success for the Yankees!
As Jordan Blackmon Montgomery prepares for his first Major League start later today, the Shattered Dreams Award must reside with reliever Tyler Webb. Webb had been selected in the Rule 5 Draft by the Pittsburgh Pirates last December. As a lefty, he stood a decent chance of making the Pirates roster. His Spring numbers for the Pirates were legit. In 13 innings pitched over the course of 8 games, he did allow 13 hits and 4 runs (2.77 ERA), but he walked only one and struck out 11. However, he lost the roster battle to former Yankee (and fellow left-hander) Wade LeBlanc and was returned to the Yankees organization.
Back with the Yankees and not on the 40-man roster, Webb was assigned to AAA Scranton/Wilkes-Barre.
On Sunday, in the second game of a double header with the Buffalo Bisons, Webb replaced starter Joe Mantiply for the RailRiders with two outs and two on in the bottom of third inning. He struck out Rowdy Tellez to end the threat. So far, so good. The next inning started nicely, with the RailRiders nursing a 3-0 lead, as Webb struck out the first batter. Then, unfortunately, the wheels came off. When Webb was pulled from the game after two outs in the bottom of the fourth, he had allowed six singles and a double. The Rail Riders had scored 6 runs to take the lead. Webb did strike out the last batter he faced (Rudy Tellez for a second time). So, for one inning of work, recording all outs by strikeout, the 6 runs left Webb with an ERA of 54.00. Oddly enough, he wasn’t the loser as the RailRiders tied the game in the top of the fifth. His replacement, Tyler Jones, took the loss by allowing three Bison runs over the next couple of innings. It must be a horrible feeling to stand on the cusp of making a Major League roster, only to see your dream die and then you subsequently get shellacked in the minor leagues. At 26 going on 27, Webb is not going to get too many more opportunities. Performances like Sunday will not exactly open any doors, except for the one leading out of baseball. Hopefully, he’ll be more effective next time around and will be ready the next time he gets the call to The Show. Otherwise, it’s nothing but shattered dreams, shattered dreams…
Credit: Pete G. Wilcox, Times Leader
So far, the only quality starts thrown by Yankees pitchers are pitchers who stand tall on the mound (6’6” or greater). We’re on a roll with two consecutive quality “tall” starts. Sunday belonged to CC Sabathia (6’6”) with 6 innings of work and two earned runs (three total) even if he didn’t get the decision, and Monday featured the near perfect game by Michael Pineda (6’7”). He went 7 2/3 innings, allowing only one run. Jordan Montgomery (6’6”) looks to continue the “basketball pitcher” streak today. If Montgomery struggles, perhaps Dellin Betances (6’8”) steps in to assist. I have to admit that I kinda feel like Ronald Torreyes trying to high five Aaron Judge with this pitching staff. When Aroldis Chapman is brought in behind these guys, it must seem like Tyrion Lannister following Jamie Lannister. Or me chasing after Aroldis.
I am all for whatever edge the “downward angle” brings for Montgomery. This is an exciting start and it is one that I am hopeful is very successful. I don’t think I’ve been this excited about a Yankee-born pitcher since Andy Pettitte.
According to Forbes Magazine, the New York Yankees are the most valuable MLB franchise, worth an estimated $3.7 billion. The Los Angeles Dodgers are second, trailing the Yankees by nearly a billion dollars ($2.75 billion). The others in the “billion dollars behind” category are the Boston Red Sox ($2.7 billion), Chicago Cubs ($2.675 billion), and the San Francisco Giants ($2.65 billion). I have no problem thinking of a billion reasons why the Yankees are better than the rest of Baseball. Now the proof is in the pudding. But as much as I love the Yankees, I would seriously have to consider selling the team if my name was Steinbrenner.
Happy Retirement to former Yankees outfielder Brennan Boesch. Boesch was a decent platoon outfielder for a few seasons with the Detroit Tigers at the start of his career. He played in 23 games with the Yankees during the 2013 season until his release in July of that year. During his brief Yankees career, he batted .275 (14-for-51) with 3 HR’s and 8 RBI’s. After his release by the Yankees, he subsequently played for the Los Angeles Angels and Cincinnati Reds. Last year, he was in the Boston Red Sox organization at the AAA Level, but missed the majority of the season with a broken wrist. He was unable to get a spring invite from a Major League team this year. Boesch is a player I liked and hoped would succeed but it wasn’t meant to be. I wish him the very best in his post-playing career.
Credit: David Richard, USA TODAY Sports
Happy Wednesday! Let’s get a win today!
You had me at…, um, no, you didn’t…
We are supposed to simply accept a handwritten apology? Right. Sorry, I don’t buy it and I don’t think it would matter if A-Rod spoke before a packed house at Yankee Stadium. Alex Rodriguez is sorry for only one thing. He got caught. He could care less about you or me. Honestly, at this point, the only thing that I’d accept out of A-Rod’s words would be a retirement announcement.
I saw a few New York sportswriters commenting that home runs will bring the fans back. Are we so shallow that we could forgive Alex for his behavior by simply forgetting all with the first ball that clears the fence? I know that I will not be a fan of Alex Rodriguez today nor would I be one if by September he has hit 40 home runs. My days cheering him are over. I am still a Yankees fan, and of course, I want the team to win. I would not wish for A-Rod to do anything detrimental to the team (well beyond the damage that he’s already done) but I will only accept his contributions as team contributions, not individual accomplishments.
I admit that I hope Alex plays so poorly in the spring, the Yankees bite the $60 million bullet and release him. But that’s too far fetched to be possible. He won’t need to do much to hold his own on the roster. Rob Refsnyder could play twice as well in spring training and end up in Scranton/Wilkes Barre while A-Rod is the team’s full time DH. But still, the thought of an outright release would be the best possible outcome in my mind.
As good as the Boston Red Sox’ front office has become, it’s too bad they weren’t better back in 2003 when they failed to acquire A-Rod from the Texas Rangers. How differently things might have been had A-Rod gone to Beantown.
Ifs and buts, I know…
It’s a numbers game…
There was a time when it seemed odd that Phil Hughes wore #65 or that Joba Chamberlain wore #62. Now, with the announcement plans to retire numbers 20, 46 and 51, the lower numbers are slowly going away. Of course #2 will soon be retired for Derek Jeter and I’ve always wondered if some day #21 will be taken down for Paul O’Neill. Jorge Posada, Andy Pettitte and Bernie Williams were all great Yankees and they deserve becoming legends of Monument Park. It was also very classy of the Yankees to announce plans for a plaque for former second baseman Willie Randolph.
It thought it was cool when Manny Ramirez wore #99 for the Los Angeles Dodgers a few years ago. Now, we’re probably just a few seasons away from someone donning the same number with the Yankees. Hopefully, I won’t live to see the days when players are wearing triple digits.
Make or break a farm system…
Based on all reports, I would love nothing more than to see the Yankees sign Cuban infielder Yoan Moncada. However, based on what I’ve read, I do expect the Los Angeles Dodgers to win the bidding. I hope the Yankees emerge victorious. Given they’ll be limited in the international market for the next few years, Moncada would be icing on the cake for the fantastic international draft they had this year. I know that there are no certainties but Moncada does sound like the real deal. I guess if the Dodgers win the bidding, I shouldn’t fret too much since I live just a few miles away from Dodger Stadium. But after an off-season of largely inactivity, signing Moncada would make this winter well worth the wait. I guess we’ll find out in the next couple of weeks.
Open the door…
Count me among those who hope that new MLB Commissioner Rob Manfred re-opens the Pete Rose case. It’s time to let Pete the Ballplayer take his rightful place in Baseball’s Hall of Fame. I will never defend Pete the Man, but I saw the ballplayer play, and he remains one of the greatest that I’ve ever seen. He has served his sentence and deserves to stand among the game’s greats.
* * *
It’s hard to believe that it is time for pitchers and catchers to report. With this off-season’s inactivity and losses, it is hard to envision October baseball in the Bronx. Yeah, yeah, if all things go right and everyone stays healthy, I know they have a chance. But realistically, this is a third place team at best with the potential for the cellar if things go horribly wrong. As always, I will throw in the caveat that I hope I am wrong. But if anything, I do think the Yankees are laying the groundwork for future success.
Let’s play ball…