Tagged: Angels

Wanted: Good News For A Change…

Credit:  MLB.com

A Collective Groan in the Yankees Universe…

On the tail of a six-game losing streak, how can things go from bad to worse?  Losing top prospect Gleyber Torres to Tommy John surgery certainly qualifies.  Thought to have only a hyperextended elbow, consultation with Yankees team physician Christopher Ahmad revealed that Torres has a torn ulnar collateral ligament in his left elbow.  Many were expecting the July call-up of Torres to the Major Leagues as a potential replacement for third baseman Chase Headley.  Now, Torres will undergo surgery, with eyes for Spring Training 2018.  Ouch, this one hurts. Well, him more than me but still, losing both the top pitching and the top hitting prospects to Tommy John surgery in the same year is difficult.  I suppose the news would have been much worse if Torres had injured his throwing arm (longer recuperation and rehabilitation period).  So, we should be grateful that this was not worse than it was.  Good things never happen with headfirst slides.

Like the ascension of Chance Adams to top pitching prospect status, Clint Frazier becomes the de facto top prospect in the organization pending Gleyber’s successful return to good health.  As I try to comprehend this depressing news, I didn’t really think that Torres was ready for the Big Leagues yet.  I had already viewed his timetable as next Spring.  With immediate projections that he’ll be ready for Spring Training, nothing really changes except he’ll lose valuable time learning the nuances of third base over the course of the next few months.  Manager Joe Girardi is already on record saying that if there is an infield need at second/short on the MLB roster, Tyler Wade would be the guy.  

Where do we go from here?  With first base surfacing as the greatest need, this probably enhances the chances for Chase Headley to remain as the third base starter (regardless of the consequences) unless the Yankees swing a less expensive deal for a guy like Howie Kendrick of the Philadelphia Phillies.  Without Major League ready third basemen in the Minor Leagues and greater needs at first base and left-handed relief in the bullpen, there’s probably not much that can be done to upgrade third base at this point without costing an arm and leg (a few arms and legs, in fact).  Even the guy the Yankees traded to the San Diego Padres for Headley (Yangervis Solarte) would be a better option today in a side-by-side comparison. 

Credit:  Associated Press

The Yankees are competing against the Houston Astros in the pitching market and for third base, they face stiff competition from the Boston Red Sox who appear ready to flush the Pablo Sandoval disaster.  I believe this makes the possibility of Mike Moustakas calling Fenway Park “home” the more likely outcome.  This year’s July Trading Deadline figures to be a very expensive one for the many teams looking to upgrade. 

The Yankees elevated 3B Miguel Andujar to AAA-Scranton/Wilkes-Barre to replace Torres.  He was 1-for-4 last night in the RailRiders’ 6-1 victory over the Syracuse Chiefs.  He also scored two runs.  The heroes of the game were Dustin Fowler, who had a two-run home run, and Brady Lail, who pitched 6 2/3 innings, surrendering only the one run and four hits, for the win.  Andujar is probably the best true third baseman right now but he’s not close to taking his game to the next level yet.

In case you were sleeping last night…

Despite the day off, the Yankees are back in sole possession of first place in the AL East.  The Boston Red Sox lost to the Kansas City Royals, 4-2, to fall a 1/2 game off the pace.  Having played three more games than the Yankees, the Red Sox are two games behind in the loss column.  The third place Tampa Bay Rays slid to 4 games back, thanks to their loss to the Cincinnati Reds, 7-3.   The Toronto Blue Jays and the Baltimore Orioles sit 5 games back entering play today.  The Jays beat the Texas Rangers, 7-6, while the Orioles were de-feathered by the Cleveland Indians, 12-0.  

Preview of Upcoming Angels-Yankees Series:

Here are the scheduled pitching match-ups for the series with the Los Angeles Angels which begins tonight at Yankee Stadium:

Tuesday, June 20th

Angels:  Parker Bridwell (1-0, 2.79 ERA)

Yankees:  Michael Pineda (7-3, 3.71 ERA)

Wednesday, June 21st

Angels:  Ricky Nolasco (2-8, 5.01 ERA)

Yankees:  Jordan Montgomery (4-4, 3.78 ERA)

Thursday, June 22nd

Angels:  Jesse Chavez (5-7, 4.85 ERA)

Yankees:  Luis Severino (5-2, 2.99 ERA)

Odds & Ends…

Yankees RHP Matt Marsh, 25, has been suspended for 50 games for a second violation of Baseball’s Minor League Drug Policy.  Marsh, a relief pitcher, has appeared in 15 games for High-A Tampa and AA-Trenton.  He is 3-2 with 2.49 ERA, and has held batters to .190 batting average while striking out 28 in 21 2/3 innings.  He did not allow a run in 7 innings pitched for Tampa.  Marsh was signed by the Yankees as an undrafted free agent in 2014.

Credit:  Josh Lefkowitz-Getty Images

Move over, Aaron Judge and Gary Sanchez.  Cody Bellinger of the Los Angeles Dodgers is now the hottest young home run hitter in baseball.  Bellinger hit two more homers last night against Zack Wheeler and the New York Mets and now has 21 in 51 games.  It is the fifth multi-homer game for Bellinger.  He is just the fourth player 21 years or younger with 20 homers by the All-Star Break (joining Eddie Matthews, Albert Pujols, and Miguel Cabrera).  Do the Dodgers miss injured first baseman Adrian Gonzalez?  I think not…

Credit:  Harry How-Getty Images

Have a great Tuesday!  It’s time to put the losing streak in the rearview mirror!

Lots of Hits, Not Enough Runs…

Credit:  Randy Miller-NJ Advance Media for NJ.com

Angels 7, Yankees 5…

Another tough loss for the Yankees despite fourteen hits.

The game started out well enough.  The Yankees scored four runs in the first inning to give Michael Pineda the lead before he faced his first batter.  Brett Gardner opened the game with a single off Angels’ starter Matt Shoemaker.  After Aaron Hicks struck out, Aaron Judge singled to put runners at the corners.  Judge stole second and Matt Holliday hit a sacrifice fly to score Gardy.  The next batter, Starlin Castro, was  hit by pitch, which brought up Gary Sanchez.  The Sanchino homered to left and the Yankees looked like they were off to the races.  

Credit:  Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

Sadly, this was not Michael Pineda’s night.  The Angels came back in the bottom of the first with a run with they loaded the bases with singles from three of the first four Angels batters. Luis Valbuena then hit a fly to center that could have been a grand slam if not for a leaping catch by Aaron Hicks.  Cameron Maybin scored on the sac fly.  Pineda was able to get out of the inning without any further damage.

In the second inning, with one out, the Yankees wasted a triple by Rob Refsnyder when neither Brett Gardner nor Aaron Hicks were able to push the run across.  When the Angels came to bat in the bottom of the inning, Eric Young Jr, the previous night’s hero, singled, and Danny Espinosa followed with a homer to right to bring the Angels within a run at 4-3.  

The lead was lost in the third when Albert Pujols scored on a wild pitch with Young in the batter’s box.  Young subsequently lined a run-scoring single to give the Angels a 5-4 advantage.

The Yankees tied the score in the sixth when Chase Headley singled home Gary Sanchez.  Headley was thrown out trying to take two bases.  

Manager Joe Girardi pulled Michael Pineda after six innings, and brought in Ronald Herrera to face the Angels in the 7th.  It would not be a memorable debut for the rookie.  He was able to get the first two batters (Albert Pujols and Yunel Escobar) on ground-outs, but then he walked Valbuena.  Andrelton Simmons came to the plate and rudely introduced Herrera (0-1) to life in the Big Leagues with a homer to center. 

Credit:  Getty Images

The Yankees had a chance in the 9th when Aaron Hicks doubled with two outs.  The play was initially ruled as a game-ending out, but the call was overturned upon challenge by the Yankees.  It didn’t matter as Aaron Judge hit a grounder to third for the final out.

The final line for Pineda was 6 IP, 10 H, 5 R, 1 BB, 2 SO.  He allowed the one home run and his season ERA was pushed to 3.71.  

Credit:  Sean M Haffey-Getty Images

I felt bad for Herrera.  He was in a difficult situation for his first Major League appearance, particularly for a pitcher who has yet to find success at the AAA Level.  What works at AA does not necessarily work in the Major Leagues as Herrera found out.

This was a tough series.  The Yankees were in all three games and could have easily won the series.  Instead, the Angels took 2 of 3 and the Yankees left town on a bit of a downer. 

The Boston Red Sox pulled to within two games of the Yankees (38-25) with a 7-3 victory over the Philadelphia Phillies.  The Tampa Bay Rays lost to remain 5 1/2 games back.  Both the Baltimore Orioles and the Toronto Blue Jays.  They are 6 1/2 and 7 games back, respectively.

Odds & Ends…

RHP Ronald Herrera has been promoted to the Yankees prior to yesterday’s game in the aftermath of CC Sabathia’s strained hamstring.  Herrera, 22, was acquired in 2015 from the San Diego Padres in the trade that sent infielder Jose Pirela to Southern CA.  Herrera caught my attention this season, but I honestly didn’t expect the pitcher to make the jump from AA to the Majors even if he was already a member of the 40-man roster.  Herrera combined with Yankees reliever Jonathan Holder to throw a no-hitter on April 26, 2016 for the Trenton Thunder.  This season for the Thunder, Herrera is 7-0 with 1.07 ERA.  In 8 games, he has pitched 50 1/3 innings, with 41 strikeouts and 9 walks.  His WHIP is 0.7555. Herrera was born in Maracay, Venezuela, near the Caribbean Coast.  Yankees utility infielder Ronald Torreyes is a fellow Venezuelan.  Reliever Ben Heller was optioned to Scranton/Wilkes-Barre to make room.  Welcome to The Show, Ronald! I wish your first Major League decision could have been a victory but hopefully next time it is.  

Credit:  ESPN.com

No roster decisions have yet been made regarding CC Sabathia, but it is speculated that he’ll be placed on the disabled list with a moderate (Grade 2) hamstring strain (expected to miss at least four weeks) with the recall of pitcher Domingo German.  

The Yankees have acquired relief pitcher Matt Frawley (R) from the Pittsburgh Pirates to complete the trade that sent reliever Johnny Barbato to the Steel City.  Frawley was drafted by the Pirates last year in the 17th Round out of Purdue University.  He’ll be assigned to Class A Charleston.  Turning 22 in August, Frawley (3-1) is an older prospect at the A Level but in 19 appearances and 33 1/3 innings, he has to pitched to an ERA of 1.62 with only 4 walks and 32 strikeouts (WHIP is an impressive 0.75).  If Frawley continues to pitch as well as he did with the Class A West Virginia Power, he should soon find himself in AA with the Trenton Thunder.  

In reviewing the draft choices on Day 3 of the MLB Draft, I have to say that I love the name of the 22nd pick.  RHP Janson Junk.  Now that’s a baseball name.  Former Major League closer Brad Lidge’s cousin, Ryan Lidge, was chosen #20.  Lidge is a senior catcher from Notre Dame.  This helps offset the loss of catcher Luis Torrens who was taken in last year’s Rule 5 Draft by the San Diego Padres and is still on their Major League roster.  

There were a couple of late names that stood out to me.  In Round 29, the Yankees selected RHP Tristan Beck of Stanford.  Beck is highly touted but missed the 2017 season due to a back injury.  In some very early mock drafts, I saw Beck going as high as the first round.  Without any knowledge of the situation, I suspect that he’ll return to Stanford for his junior year and attempt to rehabilitate his stock for higher placement in a future draft.  In Round 37, the Yankees took high school pitcher Tanner Burns.  Also highly touted, Burns’ father has said that it’s 100% his son will be attending Auburn University.  It would be a great coup if the Yankees could sign one of these guys (or both) but I seriously doubt it.  I suspect that we’ll see Burns as a much higher draft choice in a future draft.


The Yankees begin a four-game set tonight against the Athletics in Oakland, CA.  Here are the pitching match-ups:


THURSDAY

Yankees:  Jordan Montgomery (4-4, 3.55 ERA)

A’s:  Sonny Gray (2-2, 4.37 ERA)


FRIDAY

Yankees:  Luis Severino (5-2, 2.75 ERA)

A’s:  Sean Manaea (6-3, 3.67 ERA)


SATURDAY

Yankees:  Masahiro Tanaka (5-6, 6.07 ERA)

A’s:  Jesse Hahn (2-4, 3.56 ERA)


SUNDAY

Yankees:  TBA

A’s:  Jharel Cotton (3-7, 5.52 ERA)


Have a great Thursday!  Here’s hoping for much better success in No-Cal than So-Cal…

Woulda, Coulda, Shoulda…

Credit:  Jayne Kamin-Oncea/USA TODAY Sports

Angels 3, Yankees 2…

After a weekend when runs came so easily, they were hard to find on Tuesday night as the Angels took down the Yankees in extra innings.  The loss snapped the Yankees’ six-game winning streak.  However, the bigger loss may have been CC Sabathia who strained his left hamstring and is probably headed for a DL stint.  CC will undergo a MRI later today.

Credit:  Jayne Kamin-Oncea/USA TODAY Sports

The feast or famine (with the emphasis on the latter) that surrounds Chris Carter was a primary ingredient for the loss.  Carter was 1-for-5 (with a meaningless single), and he popped out with the bases loaded and only one out in the top of the 11th inning.  He struck out 3 times, and committed an error at first in the fourth inning when he missed an accurate routine throw with two outs from Didi Gregorius, setting the stage for the first Angels’ run.  The runner, Andrelton Simmons, advanced to second on the play, and scored on a single by C.J. Cron.  

The Yankees tied the score in the 5th when Chase Headley doubled and Brett Gardner delivered a two-out run-scoring single. In the 7th, Headley hit a solo shot to center to give the Yankees a 2-1 lead.  Headley, arguably the worst Yankees hitter not named Chris Carter, was the night’s best hitter.  He finished 3-for-4 with an RBI and 2 runs scored.

From there, the Yankees were undone by a former Yankee, Eric Young, Jr.  In the bottom of the 8th, with the Yankees nursing the one-run lead, the Yankees brought in Tyler Clippard to pitch and he was greeted by a Young home run which tied the game.  As great a job as Clippard did last year after his acquisition last year at the trading deadline from the Arizona Diamondbacks, he’s been a weak link this year in the critical setup role.  A healthy Aroldis Chapman would have meant Dellin Betances in that situation and the outcome may have been different.  The homer denied the first Major League victory for Giovanny Gallegos who had relieved Sabathia in the fifth and pitched admirably for two innings, allowing only one hit and no runs.

The Yankees loaded the bases with one-out in the top of the 11th.  Gary Sanchez walked and then advanced to third on a double by Didi Gregorius.  Headley received an intentional walk, which brought Carter to the plate with a chance to bring runners home.  He jumped on the first pitch from new reliever Keynan Middleton, who had just entered the game, but unfortunately, he popped out with an infield fly to third.  Brett Gardner followed with another pop out which ended the Yankees’ threat and set the stage for the Angels’ walk-off in the bottom of the frame.

With Chasen Shreve pitching, Andrelton Simmons walked to open the bottom of the inning.  Shreve got the next batter, C.J. Cron, on a fly out to left, but then Manager Joe Girardi pulled Shreve (he had thrown 38 pitches to that point in his 1 2/3 innings of work) to replace him with Ben Heller.  Heller got the first batter he faced (Martin Maldonado) on a ground out, but Simmons stole second during the at-bat and advanced to third with the out.  Eric Young, Jr, came to bat after Heller had walked Cliff Pennington and he hit an infield single that was deflected off the pitcher’s backside, scoring Simmons with the winning run.

Credit:  Sean M Haffey/Getty Images

‘Woulda, coulda, shoulda’ was the story to this game.  Losing is never fun, but losing games that should have been won are harder. 

No word who will replace Sabathia in the rotation.  Chad Green, Sunday’s starter, was limited to a pitch count of 50 (he was pulled after throwing 53 pitches).  I wouldn’t be surprised to see either Luis Cessa or Bryan Mitchell recalled to be the interim starter.  The less likely options would be Caleb Smith (who was the winning pitcher yesterday for the Scranton/Wilkes-Barre RailRiders and is currently 4-0 with 2.71 ERA) or Chance Adams (3-2, 2.52 ERA) since neither one is on the 40-man roster.

The Boston Red Sox picked up a game on the Yankees, thanks to their second consecutive extra inning win over the Philadelphia Phillies.  The Red Sox now trail the Yankees (38-24) by three games.  The Tampa Bay Rays also won so they are 5.5 games behind.  Both the Orioles and the Blue Jays lost.  

Odds & Ends…

The MLB Draft completed Rounds 3 through 10 on Tuesday.  Like the day before, the emphasis was high on right-handed pitchers.  Only one position player was taken.  High School catcher (who will be converted to the outfield) Canaan Smith (not to be confused with the country singer by the same name).  Smith, a graduate of Rockwall-Heath (Texas) High School, was routinely pitched around with a Barry Bonds-like walk rate.  He was selected in the 4th round.  

The lone lefty taken was Dalton Lehnen of Augustana College in the 6th round.  Otherwise, Day 2 was stacked with righties.

Here is the list of players taken on Day 2:

Round 3 (92):  Trevor Stephan, Arkansas, RHP

Round 4 (122):  Canaan Smith, Rockwall-Heath HS, RF

Round 5 (152):  Glenn Otto, Rice, RHP

Round 6 (182):  Dalton Lehnen, Augustana College, LHP

Round 7 (212):  Dalton Higgins, Dallas Baptist, RHP

Round 8 (242):  Kyle Zurak, Redford U, RHP

Round 9 (272):  Austin Gardner, U Texas-Arlington, RHP

Round 10 (302):  Chad Whitmer, Southern Illinois U Carbondale, RHP

The Baltimore Orioles are gushing about the fall of D.L. Hall to them.  They didn’t expect him to be the board with the 21st pick on Monday.  Nothing against Clarke Schmidt, but I hope this choice doesn’t come back to haunt the Yankees in future years.

Day 3 concludes today with Rounds 11 through 40.  Start time is 12:00 pm Eastern.  

LHP Tommy Layne, who was previously designated for assignment, has been outrighted to AAA-Scranton/Wilkes-Barre.  

RHP Ronald Herrera has been named the Eastern League (AA) Pitcher of the Week.  In his last start, Herrera pitched 6 2/3 innings while only allowing two hits in the Trenton Thunder’s 9-0 victory over the Hartford Yard Goats.  After giving up a two-out single in the first inning, Herrera retired 16 consecutive Yard Goats before surrendering the second hit.  He struck out 9 in picking up the win.  Herrera is the fourth Thunder pitcher to win the weekly award this year, following Chance Adams, Yefry Ramirez, and Justus Sheffield. 

Credit:  TrentonThunder.com

Aroldis Chapman was scheduled to pitch yesterday for High-A Tampa, however, the game was rained out.  Chapman will pitch one inning Friday for AA-Trenton and is tentatively scheduled to rejoin the Yankees on Sunday in Oakland.  

Have a great Wednesday!  Time to start a new winning streak!

Telling It To The Judge…

Credit:  Sean M Haffey-Getty Images

Yankees 5, Angels 3…

One of the greatest highlights of this game were the chants of “MVP!” for Aaron Judge from the Anaheim crowd.  It was incredible to get that type of response from the park that Mike Trout calls home.  Judge is certainly deserving of the accolades but it is not something that you’d expect on enemy turf.    

When Kole Calhoun, the second batter in the bottom of the first inning, homered with no one on, I had fears that Masahiro Tanaka was going to get rocked once again.  But fortunately, the old Tanaka re-emerged and kept the Angels off the board until the 7th inning.  

Credit:  Randy Miller-NJ Advance Media for NJ.com

The Yankees built up a 3-1 lead through the top of the 7th.  Following a couple of two-out walks of Matt Holliday and Starlin Castro in the third inning, Didi Gregorius singled to left, scoring Holliday and tying the game at 1.  The Yankees took the lead in the 5th, thanks again to another two-out hit from Gregorius.  After Aaron Judge walked and Starlin Castro singled, Gregorius singled to center which scored Judge.  In the 7th, Judge singled and moved to second on a groundout by Matt Holliday.  Castro followed with a ground out to the pitcher, bringing Gregorius up again with two outs.  The Los Angeles Angels took no chances and intentionally walked Didi to put the bat in the hands of Chase Headley (ugh!).  Despite my lack of excitement about Headley, he delivered with a single, scoring Judge.  The Yankees subsequently loaded the bases, but Austin Romine hit a grounder for the final out of the inning.  

Tanaka pitched well enough to win but it was not to be.  In the bottom of the 7th, after Andrelton Simmons had flied out, Eric Young, Jr reached base as a result of a fielding error by Chase Headley (his 11th of the season, one more than he had last year in 140 games at third).  The next batter, Martin Maldonado, struck out but Young advanced to second on a steal.  Former Washington National Danny Espinosa lined a single to right, scoring Young.  Aaron Judge mistakenly threw the ball home on an overthrow which allowed Espinosa to take second.  Manager Joe Girardi pulled Tanaka (hand clap for #19) and brought in Tyler Clippard.  Clippard promptly gave up a double to Cameron Maybin, scoring Espinosa for a run charged to Tanaka and the game was tied at 3.  He struck out Kole Calhoun for the final out, and the game moved to the 8th inning.

After Brett Gardner flied out, Aaron Hicks doubled to left.  The Angels made a pitching change to bring in their interim closer, Bud Norris.  On a 2-0 count, Judge showed the Anaheim crowd the magic that we’ve been experiencing in the Bronx with a home run to right center, giving the Yankees a 5-3 lead and the eventual margin of victory. 

Credit:  Randy Miller-NJ Advance Media for NJ.com

With two outs and a runner at first thanks to a walk in the bottom of the 8th, Girardi took no chances and brought in Dellin Betances to get the final out of the inning.  It was a much cleaner than the last time Betances entered an inning with two outs (when he loaded the bases and threw 17 pitches to record the necessary out).  This time, it was three pitches and a fly out.

In the 9th, Betances was on his game as he struck out the side.  Yankees win, 5-3.

This was a great game for the California Central Valley native Judge.  He finished 2-for-4 with a walk, 3 runs scored and 2 RBI’s, while increasing his batting average to .347, in front of family, friends and James Kaprielian.  Yankees fans are everywhere and they certainly made themselves known on this night with the “MVP!” chants.

Gregorius was 4-for-4 with the 2 RBI’s.  

It may be a down year for the Angels, but they’ve always played well against the Yankees so this was a satisfying victory.  It would have been nice for Tanaka to pick up the win, but still, it had to be a confidence-booster for him.  His final line was 6 2/3 IP, 4 H, 3 R, 1 ER,  2 BB, 8 SO.  I hope to see more of this and less of the Tanaka starts we saw over the past month.  Clippard, responsible for costing Tanaka the victory, took the win, thanks to Judge’s timely homer.  

The Yankees (38-23) maintained their four-game lead over the Boston Red Sox.  The Sox beat the Philadelphia Phillies, 6-5, in extra innings.  The Tampa Bay Rays (who had the night off) remained in third, but dropped to 6 1/2 games back.  The Baltimore Orioles lost again (10-7 to the Chicago White Sox), sliding to 7 1/2 games behind the leaders.  The O’s are now just a half game from falling into the AL East Cellar.  

Odds & Ends…

I hate to say that I am disappointed with the MLB Draft because Yankees scouts know a heck of lot more than I do, but I was not enthused with the first round selection (16th pick) of right-handed pitcher Clarke Schmidt.  Schmidt had Tommy John surgery earlier this Spring and will be unavailable to pitch until sometime in late 2018.  I couldn’t help but get flashbacks to the pick of Andrew Brackman a number of years ago.  Taking a chance on an injured but high ceiling pitcher who never rose to the level of his potential and is subsequently out of baseball.  I hope this is not the same situation with Schmidt.  I thought first baseman Evan White or lefty pitcher D.L. Hall would have been great picks at that spot, or even lefty David Peterson (who was later picked by the Mets).   

Damon Oppenheimer,  Yankees VP of Domestic Amateur Scouting, had these words for Schmidt (who is from the University of South Carolina like Jordan Montgomery):  “Schmidt’s got four pitches that at times are all plus.  He has command, he has makeup.  We really like his delivery.  He’s got a chance to be a top end of the rotation type of guy who combines pitchability with power stuff.  And you always like it when they’re the Friday night guy, pitching and having success in that conference.”  A few of the pitchers taken in the first round sound better suited for relief work so I suppose if you have a chance for a top of the rotation guy, you take it.  I hope this one works out.

In the second round (with the 54th pick), the Yankees chose a high school pitcher (Matt Sauer).  I like this pick, perhaps more so than Schmidt.  Sauer is right-handed and just 18 years old, he is already 6’4”.  He a product of an appropriately named Righetti High School (CA) even if the school is named for a guy named Ernest Righetti and not former Yankees closer Dave “Rags” Righetti.  Oppenheimer offered these words about Sauer:  “Sauer is a projectable high school right-hander who is athletic, with a ‘now’ fastball and a plus slider.  He really has a good way about his aggressiveness and makeup on the mound.  We see a chance there for a starter with power stuff.”

Credit:  The Tribune (San Luis Obispo)

Welcome to the Yankees Family, Clarke and Matt!

Have a great Tuesday!  It should be a fun day as the Yankees try to keep this winning streak alive and MLB Draft continues with rounds 3 through 10.  

Yankees: Can You Hear Me Now?…

Credit:  Anthony Gruppuso-USA TODAY Sports

Yankees 14, Orioles 3…

Wow…the Yankees figured out the best way to beat the Baltimore Orioles is to just blast them in the bottom of the first inning.  A day after they crushed the O’s 16-3, the Yankee bats were in high gear once again.  I carried a fear that they’d struggle a day after the blow-out but these Yankees do not play to anyone’s predictions.  The forecasted 82-win team keeps rolling along as they pummeled the O’s 14-3 on Sunday to complete the three-game sweep.

This was a tough 13-game stretch against AL East opponents.  When the Yankees returned home to face the Boston Red Sox and the Orioles, they were 3-4 in road games against the O’s and the Toronto Blue Jays.  Boston had a chance to overtake the Yankees in the AL East standings with a sweep, but instead the Yankees took 2 of 3 from the Sox.  Then, they absolutely crushed the Orioles by a cumulative score of 38-8 in sweeping the three-game series.  So, the Yankees finish 8-5 for the 13 AL East games and are beginning to make believers that this team may be for real.  

After losing the opening game of the Red Sox series, the Baby Bombers won the next five games against the Red Sox and the O’s by a combined score of 55-9.  It was the first five game stretch of at least 8 runs or more for the Yankees since July 1956. 

Replicating Saturday’s fast start, the Yankees jumped out to a 5-0 lead in the first inning.  Two of the first three batters (Brett Gardner and Aaron Judge) singled to put runners at the corners.  Judge moved to second on a wild pitch, but it didn’t matter as Matt Holliday walked to load the bases.  Starlin Castro hit the second pitch of the at-bat up the middle off O’s starter Kevin Gausman, scoring Gardner and Judge.  Holliday moved to second.  That brought up Gary Sanchez who parked one in left center to score three more runs.

Credit:  Kathy Willens-Associated Press

The Yankees could have blown the game open in the second inning when they had the bases loaded with only one out, but Starlin Castro hit into a double-play to strand the runners.   

Staked to the big lead, Chad Green, making his first Major League start of the season, couldn’t survive the third inning.  The only blemish of the first two innings was a walk of Trey Mancini in the second inning, but JJ Hardy opened the third with a double off Green.  The next hitter, former Yankee (or should I say RailRider) Ruben Tejada doubled off his former Scranton/Wilkes-Barre teammate to score Hardy.  Green’s day was ended after 52 pitches.  But the “doubles parade” continued against Chasen Shreve.  Seth Smith lined a double to score Tejada, followed by Jonathan Schoop’s double to score Smith.  Suddenly, the game was much tighter at 5-3.  Or as Michael Kay put it, “a laugher has become a nail-biter”.  Fortunately, Shreve rebounded to get Adam Jones on a ground-out, holding the runner at second.  This was followed by swinging strikeouts of O’s sluggers Mark Trumbo and Chris Davis to end the inning.

In the bottom of the 4th inning, after Jonathan Holder held the O’s scoreless in the top of the frame, the Yankees added a couple of insurance runs when Aaron Hicks walked and moved to third on a double by Aaron Judge.  Matt Holliday rapped a single to center to score both of the Aarons, increasing the Yankees’ lead to 7-3.

Moving to the sixth, Aaron Judge smashed another monster home run.  They should probably re-name Statcast as “Judge-cast” because he owns the leaderboards.  A day after the hardest hit ball this year, Judge captured the lead for home run distance with 495 feet.  Jake Lamb of the Arizona Diamondbacks had held the previous longest homer (481 feet) since April 29th.  I’ve been convinced that we’ll see a 500 ft home run from Judge this season and he came within 5 feet of making my dream a reality.  8-3, Yankees.

Credit:  MLB.com

Not finished in the sixth, Matt Holliday reached first base on a fielding error by second baseman Jonathan Scoop.  Starlin Castro followed with a homer to left-center, making up for his second inning-ending double play.  The once close score was now 10-3 Yankees.  

You’d think that the Yankees bats were done for the day but not the Aarons.  In the 7th, both Ronald Torreyes and Brett Gardner walked with one out.  Aaron Hicks subsequently lined a double to center, scoring both runners.  12-3, Yankees.  That set the stage for the man of the hour, Aaron Judge.  In the daily game of who is going to hit two home runs next, Judge answered the call with his second homer of the game, a two-run shot to cap the Yankees scoring for the day and give the Yankees a 14-3 lead.

It’s nice to have games where it is difficult to pick the player of the game.  Certainly, two home runs (including one that traveled nearly 500 ft) and a 4-for-4 day with 3 RBI’s gives Judge the leg up, but Starlin Castro’s 4 RBI’s warrant consideration.  Gary Sanchez and his three-run homer.  Or Matt Holliday, who has a knack for always being in the thick of the action.  1-for-3, Holliday walked twice, scored two runs, and had 2 RBI’s.  I am not ready to say that this is a World Series contender quite yet, but this is the most exciting Yankees team that I’ve seen since the late 90’s.  Please do not let the bubble burst.

In a game of relievers, the Yankees used 5 members of the bullpen to complete the game.  The longest stint was provided by Domingo German who was making his Major League debut.  German finished the final 2 2/3 innings of the game.  Although he did allow two hits and a walk, he held the O’s scoreless and struck out a batter (Jonathan Schoop, to end the top of the 7th inning).  Adam Warren (2-1), who preceded German, picked up the win.

The Yankees (37-23) moved up 3 1/2 games in the AL East, pending the outcome of Boston’s game on Sunday night.  The Tampa Bay Rays won (5-4 over the Oakland A’s) to move into third place, 6 games behind the Yankees.  The Orioles slipped to fourth with the loss, 6 1/2 games back.

This was an impressive home stand by the Yankees.  But all good things must end.  The Yankees take the show on the road for seven games in Southern and Northern California before returning to Yankee Stadium on June 20th to face the Los Angeles Angels.  With the West Coast games, I guess there are going to be a few bleary-eyed fans this week suffering from lack of sleep.

Odds & Ends…

The Scranton/Wilkes-Barre RailRiders lost to the Lehigh Valley IronPigs on Sunday, 6-4.  The RailRiders led the majority of the game, but the IronPigs scored 5 runs late to capture the win.  Chance Adams was the starter, and pitched very well until the fateful 7th inning (when the IronPigs pushed 4 runs across the plate).  He finished with a pitching line of 6 2/3 IP, 4 H, 3 R, 1 BB, 6 SO, 1 HR, while increasing his season ERA to 2.52.  He didn’t figure in the decision.  Tyler Webb, who I had hoped would eventually find his way to the Bronx, was an absolute train wreck.  He gave up 7 hits and 3 runs (plus a run charged to Adams) before recording the final out of the 7th inning.  Adams deserved better but this was a learning experience.

Greg Bird had a quiet day at the plate.  He was 0-for-2, with 2 walks and a run scored.  

Domingo German’s stay in the Major Leagues was short-lived.  Following yesterday’s game, he was optioned to Scranton/Wilkes-Barre.  Right-handed reliever Ben Heller was recalled to take his place.  Either Heller or Gallegos will be heading back to SWB when Aroldis Chapman is activated (hopefully this weekend in Oakland).  

Here are the scheduled pitching match-ups in Anaheim for the series with the Los Angeles Angels:

MONDAY

Yankees:  Masahiro Tanaka (5-6, 6.55 ERA)

Angels:  Alex Meyer (2-3, 4.08 ERA)

TUESDAY

Yankees:  CC Sabathia (7-2, 3.66 ERA)

Angels:  JC Ramirez ( 6-4, 4.33 ERA)

WEDNESDAY

Yankees:  Michael Pineda (7-3, 3.39 ERA)

Angels:  Matt Shoemaker (6-3, 4.22 ERA)

Have a great Monday!  Let’s keep this winning streak alive!  Go Yankees!

Baseball and bad decisions…

 

A swing and a miss, another miss, yet another miss…

This morning, I saw a post on the MLB Trade Rumors website (http://www.MLBTradeRumors.com) that asked the poll question of which MLB team had the best draft in 2002?  Of all the examples shown, no Yankees were anywhere to be found.  For a draft that started with Bryan Bullington and B.J. Upton, there was some great talent uncovered in the 2002 draft.  Jon Lester, Zack Greinke, Matt Cain, Prince Fielder, Cole Hamels, Joey Votto and a guy who would eventually find his way to the Bronx, Brian McCann, were among the great choices by their respective teams.  But sadly, not a single Yankee selection stuck that year.

Number 26 selection Phil Coke is a major leaguer but with the Detroit Tigers.  He had his moments in the Bronx but was never anything special and was sent to the Tigers as part of the Curtis Granderson-Austin Jackson trade.

But removing Coke, there are 50 rounds of names that Yankee Stadium never heard from.  I really do not recognize any of the names outside of the first round selection and that’s only because he was later the starting quarterback of the Cleveland Browns (Brandon Weeden).

I know that there are many sad tales among the 2002 draft picks, like 2nd round pick Alan Bomer, a pitcher, who reinjured his shoulder after a previous injury several years earlier, bringing an end to his major league hopes.

But it’s also a testament to the drafting ability of major league teams and 2002 was clearly not a good vintage for the Yankees.  I know the team’s re-focus on the minor league system didn’t occur until a few years later but hopefully barren draft years like 2002 are a thing of the past.  But looking ahead a few years, it’s not too pretty.

2003 really wasn’t much better with top pick third baseman Eric Duncan long gone from baseball.  The only name that stands out to me from that draft is Washington Nationals reliever Tyler Clippard.

2004 was the year the Yankees selected pitcher Phil Hughes and can only wonder what could have been.  Time will tell if he can fulfill his promise in the Twin Cities or if he was simply one of the most overhyped young players of our time.

For the Yankees, solid draft picks do not appear until 2005 which Brett Gardner and Austin Jackson were chosen.  Interestingly enough, the Yankees also chose pitcher Doug Fister that year but he opted to return to college for his final year, and was taken by the Seattle Mariners the next year.  Granted, Fister is currently on the Nationals’ DL, but he’d certainly look good in the Yankees rotation about now.

In 2006, the Yankees made some good choices, but it’s rather humorous that the first round pick went to Joba Chamberlain, a journeyman reliever for the Detroit Tigers, while current Yankees closer, David Robertson was selected in the 17th round.  Ian Kennedy and Zach McAllister were both chosen after Chamberlain, and they are solid starting pitchers for the San Diego Padres and Cleveland Indians, respectively.  Dellin Betances was also taken that year and after years of hype, he’s finally contributing as a force in the Yankees bullpen.  Mark Melancon, currently the closer for the Pittsburgh Pirates due to Jason Grilli’s injury, was also a draft selection.

Of the decisions the Yankees made regarding trades, the one I didn’t like was dumping McAllister.  He went to Cleveland in 2010 for Austin Kearns who only stayed in the Bronx for the remainder of the season.  That trade felt like the foolish ones that we had grown accustomed to in the 1970’s and 80’s.  McAllister is having a very solid year for the Indians and is another guy who would have looked great in the Yankees rotation.

I will never find fault with the decision to trade Ian Kennedy even though he almost won the Cy Young after leaving the Yankees.  I just never found him to be a good fit in New York.

2007 was another disappointing draft year as the Yankees really only have catcher Austin Romine, currently at AAA Scranton/Wilkes Barre, to show for it.  Top pick Andrew Brackman was coming off a major injury at the time of the selection and was never able to find his way back.

As I advance to 2008, it’s disappointing to see how poor, outside of 2006, the draft has been for the Yankees.  Atop the list in ’08 is a pitcher the Yankees were unable to sign and who is now entrenched in the starting rotation for the Pittsburgh Pirates, Gerrit Cole.  Talk about another guy who would have been a brilliant option for the Yankees rotation.  What could have been…

This really shows how incredibly difficult it is to determine those who will be able to achieve results and success at the Major League level.  It also shows how many people fail to find their way for whatever reasons.

It’s a small wonder that the Yankees have had to spend so much in the free agent market to ensure the team remains competitive.  In a statement of the obvious, the Yankees would be smart to improve the quality of their scouting and development to ensure that the older players are replaced by younger, cheaper talent with high ceilings.

The Tampa Bay Rays and Kansas City Royals are solid teams because of their drafting ability.  For the Yankees, they are successful despite it.  I get why owner Hal Steinbrenner believes in the power of the farm system.  This is not rocket science.  Sustainability will only be maintained through youth and controlling costs.

Stupid is as stupid does…

The fans of the Boston Red Sox took great delight when Michael Pineda was tossed from a Yankees-Red Sox game last week due to the blatant smear of pine tar on his neck.  After the fiasco caused during his previous start against the Red Sox in Yankee Stadium (“brown dirt”), he had to have known he would be under the magnifying glass.  Yet, he risked detection by continuing the use of pine tar and ended up applying a more generous amount than he had intended to.  So, Boston manager John Farrell had absolutely no choice but to call out Pineda.  This is one instance where I felt the Red Sox were 100% correct in a controversial decision involving the Yankees.  Pineda’s 10-game suspension hurts the Yankees, at a time when they’ve already lost starter Ivan Nova for the season due to an elbow injury that requires Tommy John surgery.

For a rotation that looked so strong and full of promise for a few starts, the Yankees now have to replace both Nova and Pineda, plus the top of the rotation has been questionable at times with CC Sabathia and Hiroki Kuroda.  The only source of consistency has been Masahiro Tanaka, who faces an incredibly difficult challenge today against the Los Angeles Angels and the likes of Albert Pujols and Mike Trout. 

Baseball is a team-first sport and Pineda made a “me-first” decision.  I hope that he learns a valuable lesson during his suspension and comes back with choices that are for the good of the team.

For the record, I do believe that Major League Baseball should allow pine tar to some degree for gripping purposes only in colder temps.  But until the rules are changed, it’s a violation and should be handled accordingly.  Baseball has been tolerant of discreet behavior regarding its use, but to blatantly violate the policy warrants the appropriate punishment until such a time the rules are changed.

 

–Scott

 

And the WINNER is…

 

For months, the talk centered on prized Japanese pitcher Mashiro Tanaka.  He was highly touted as the most valuable free agent pitcher on the market.  Of course, his free agency began slowly when there was doubt if his Japanese team would allow him to be posted, particularly after the posting fee was capped at $20 million.  Nevertheless, Tanaka was subsequently posted, as we all know.

Almost immediately, the Yankees were regarded as the frontrunner.  But given that any team to offer to pay the $20 million posting fee, it opened the field to any team that wanted to make a run at the latest Japanese import.  Early on, there was talk that the Seattle Mariners would make a play for Tanaka.  It was said that the Los Angeles Dodgers would not be outbid, and the Chicago Cubs were completely enamored with the idea of Tanaka headlining their rotation.  The Los Angeles Angels and the Arizona Diamondbacks were other teams mentioned as strong possibilities.

I read that the Mariners were favorites because the team is predominantly owned by Nintendo and Los Angeles was cited because of its close proximity to Japan and its strong Asian community.  There was talk that some team would make a surprise late bid, kind of like what the Angels when they signed Albert Pujols.

I never really expected the Dodgers to be “all-in”.  They had their own pending free agent to be in Clayton Kershaw and they couldn’t make a ridiculously high bid without driving up their costs to retain Kershaw.  They subsequently re-signed Kershaw to a $215 million deal, but I still didn’t think they’d go hard after Tanaka.  I did think the Chicago Cubs were a strong challenger for Tanaka despite prior rumors that he preferred a coastal destination.  If I have learned anything with Major League Baseball, it’s to never underestimate Theo Epstein.

But fortunately, when Tanaka finally made his decision, he was a Yankee.  Almost instantly, the stories about his superior talent turned to questions about how he’ll make the adjustment to life in America and how he is a #2 or #3 starter at best.  Everyone is now quick to say that he does not have the talent of Yu Darvish, and I’ve seen the name “Kei Igawa” more than I’d care to in recent days.  But still, this was a move that the Yankees HAD to make.  With a weak farm system at the upper levels, they had no choice but to overpay for young pitching talent with solid upside.  With the hype surrounding Tanaka (who went 24-0 in Japan last year), he also represents a gate attraction.  With Tanaka in the fold, the Yankees become the second major league team to have two Japanese players in their starting pitching rotation (the first was the Dodgers with Hideo Nomo and Kaz Ishii).  If the Japanese media made it a circus following Hideki Matsui, they’ll have a field day following the trio of Tanaka, Hiroki Kuroda and Ichiro Suzuki.

The realist in me knows not to expect top of the rotation stuff from Tanaka.  I know the Yankees want more, but I’d be very satisfied if he could give the Yankees what Kuroda has for the last two years.  This is most likely Kuroda’s last year, and it is good that Tanaka will have a year to spend under Hiroki’s wing.  I think that will greatly aid his transition to the United States and MLB.

I thought that it would take a contract of 7 years, $140 million to sign Tanaka.  So, the Yankees did overbid in that regard.  Today I saw an article that one GM speculated the next highest bid were the Cubs and D-Backs at $120 million.  I really doubt the gap between the Yankees and the others was that great.  The same source mentioned the Dodgers were at $119 million which doesn’t make sense as everyone knew it would take $120 million plus to sign Tanaka.  My guess is the Cubs and Dodgers were in the vicinity of $140 million plus.  Not bad for a pitcher who has never thrown a major league pitch.

While I would still like to see an additional pitcher brought to camp, there is potential with a rotation that features CC Sabathia, Hiroki Kuroda, Masahiro Tanaka, Ivan Nova and Michael Pineda or David Phelps.  If Pineda could possibly show the potential that caused the Yankees to trade for him (prior to the injuries), the rotation could be very strong.  While I would not be opposed to seeing Bronson Arroyo or Ubaldo Jimenez signed, I think the Yankees need to focus on the infield.  Yes, they’ve brought in San Diego’s Dean Anna, signed Kelly Johnson, Brian Roberts and Scott Sizemore, and still have Eduardo Nunez but there are too many questions.  What happens if Mark Teixeira struggles in his return, or Derek Jeter?  Neither of those positions are air tight without getting into the holes at second and third.  Jeter will be 40, and Teixeira is a notoriously slow starter.  April could be a very challenging month.

My preference would be to find a decent third baseman so that Kelly Johnson could be the primary second baseman.  But the team is probably enamored with the idea that Roberts is capable of rebounding from the injury filled years that have plagued him since 2009.  Scott Sizemore is nothing more than camp fodder.  One magazine I read said “But other than OK pop and a few walks, offers little even when healthy”.  Anna is nothing more than a potential reserve.

Catching and the outfield is set, but there is still work to be done in the infield and in the bullpen.  I agree with the choice to anoint David Robertson as the closer, but there needs to be an insurance plan in place.  Grant Balfour would have been a great option but he is now a Tampa Bay Ray once again.  I don’t want Fernando Rodney, but the Yankees need someone who is capable of closing games if Robertson is not up to the task.  If Boston can find an elite closer as their fourth choice last year, there are potential arms that can be found.  I really hated to see the departure of Boone Logan.  Not much has been written about it, but I can only hope that Matt Thornton is a capable, albeit older, replacement.  I know the team has long admired lefty Cesar Cabral so perhaps this is Cabral’s year to take it to the next level.  I’d also like to see Dellin Betances take advantage of his opportunity and become a force in the pen.  I guess every team thinks they can follow the Tampa blueprint for bullpen success given how the Rays are always able to craft something out of nothing.

With pitchers and catchers reporting to training camp in a few weeks, I am sure that the transaction wires will be busy as teams, and most notably the Yankees, look to create playoff caliber rosters.

For the Yankees, while it will be great to see Brian McCann show up to become his orientation with the Yankee pitchers, the cameras and the reporters will be flocked around #19, Masahiro Tanaka, as he begins his pinstriped career.  Time to build upon last year’s 85 wins and return the Yankees to October baseball.  With the commitment the Yankees have shown this off-season, it’s clear their last move was not their “last” move.

Go Yankees!

–Scott

Fixing what ails them…

 

Turning the page…

After getting swept by the Baltimore Orioles, it was a relief to see the team head to Minneapolis for a four-game set against the Minnesota Twins.  I didn’t expect the Yankees to sweep the Twins, but I had hoped for at least 2 or 3 wins in the Twin City.  Fortunately, the Yankees did better, taking all four games from the Twins.

Most believe the Yankees have held it together with smoke and mirrors this season, but I am hardly one to disagree.  The Yanks have gotten good production from guys who other teams were glad to vacate.  Today’s hero was Vernon Wells, and clearly the Toronto Blue Jays and Los Angeles Angels were glad to move him on when they did.

Lyle Overbay is a good guy but he’s not exactly going to suddenly emerge with his best season ever.  I think those days are far behind him.  With no return of Mark Teixeira this year, the Yankees need to find a stronger first base solution.  Unfortunately, I think there are too many holes to fill and I’d certainly hate to see the Yankees give up quality prospects in trades that will probably still result in no October success for the Yankees.  As always, I am hopeful the team proves me wrong, but clearly, the odds are against them.

Boo-yeah!  Great accomplishments…

Congratulations to Joe Girardi, CC Sabathia and Max Scherzer.  For Girardi, he won his 600th game earlier this week.  Not bad for a guy who lasted only one season as the manager for the then Florida Marlins.  CC achieved success through his 200th win, and Max Scherzer, an opponent’s “ace” gets kudos for starting the season 13-0.  When a staff is led by the great Justin Verlander, you certainly do not expect anyone to challenge his tag as the staff ace.  But with Verlander’s struggles this year and Scherzer’s legendary start, Verlander is no better than #2 on the Detroit Tigers’ staff this year.  As for CC, it just doesn’t seem that long ago he was a promising rookie pitching for the Cleveland Indians.  Hard to believe that he’s already at 200 wins.  Still, it’s a great accomplishment and I hope that we’ll soon be seeing CC win his 250th game in pinstripes.

Chasing the rumors…

When you hear of possible deadline trades, I have to admit that it’s sad to hear Chase Utley’s name mentioned.  He’s been a great Phillie although a bit injury-plagued in recent years.  Still, I identify the guy with the Phillies and it would be good to see him play in the City of Brotherly Love for the remainder of his career.  Michael Young is another name mentioned and given that he made his name in Arlington, Texas, I’d rather see him moved if the Phillies do anything.

I am fairly certain the Yankees will move Joba Chamberlain by the deadline.  It would also not surprise me to see Phil Hughes go considering that Michael Pineda should finally be able to make his Yankees pitching debut soon.

The Yankees need to do what it takes to re-sign Robinson Cano…

Ugh, I really dislike the possible return of Alex Rodriguez.  Maybe there’s still something in the bat, but I am not a fan and I’d prefer to see Alex as the starting third baseman for some team in Siberia.  With Yankee GM Brian Cashman’s recent outburst against A-Rod and Yankee President Randy Levine’s back-pedaling, I am clearly on Team Cashman regarding A-Rod.

I am also convinced that this is the final season in pinstripes for free agent-to be Curtis Granderson.  His final season has been a disappointment given his extended stays on the DL.  Same goes for Andy Pettitte.  I think if the team finishes third or lower in the AL East, Andy will no longer have the fire to compete.  It’s the thrill of playing October baseball that drives Andy at this point so an unsuccessful season will probably prove to him that it’s time.

Say, Mo, isn’t that your spot in Monument Park?…

Speaking of impending departures, I loved the gift the Minnesota Twins gave to Mariano Rivera.  The Chair of Broken Dreams.  A rocking chair constructed of broken bats.  How great was that?  Mariano is a living legend, and I am so thankful that I got to watch him pitch for the duration of his Yankees career.  This is a guy who could still be a very effective closer in 2014 despite his age, so clearly, he’s going out on top regardless of what the team does.

Ask me how much I wish that I still lived in Minneapolis so that I could have experienced the past four games?…

Better them than us…

I thought it was a bad decision for the Texas Rangers to sign Manny Ramirez.  Yes, I’ve always admired Man-Ram’s ability to hit, but it’s the baggage that goes with the guy that is too much.  I guess he is usually on his best behavior during his first year so maybe the Rangers are on to something.  But this should be a very short-term relationship.  If I were Nolan Ryan, I would not want Manny as part of my strategy for 2014.

Jamie Foxx for President…

I saw White House Down today and thought it was very good.  Quite predictable, but still, as an action flick, it had all of the right ingredients.  Felt a little like Die Hard in the White House but hey, there have been a lot worse movies!

I hope everyone has a wonderful 4th of July!  Enjoy the fireworks!

–Scott

 

Early Season Success and then nothing…

Bay Area and Thud…

Living in the Bay Area, there was no reason that I should not have attended the Yankees’ just completed three game series against the hometown A’s.  But miss it I did, and in retrospect, it was probably just as well.  Today’s 18-inning loss marked a sweep for the A’s.  The Yankees were punch-less and the combined 0-for-12 in today’s game for Mark Teixeira and Kevin Youkilis certainly did not help.

I was worried about Teixeira’s late start due to injury.  A notoriously slow starter, he began his 2013 season strong but lately he is playing to form (in other words, “ice cold”).  I think the Yankees’ early season success was an aberration at this point, and if things do not improve, they’ll be sellers at the trading deadline, not buyers.

The A’s series continued to show me that Phil Hughes is not the answer and the team will be best served by letting him walk at the end of the season if they don’t move him in July.

Speaking of Yankees who have to go, I sincerely hope that Alex Rodriguez has played his last game for the Pinstripers…

Future Potential…

The MLB Draft was exciting this year with three picks at the end of the first round.  I think the Yankees did very well with 3B Eric Jagielo and OF Aaron Judge.  I am very intrigued by Judge and look forward to his arrival in the Bronx.  Jagielo, as a college player, should be on the fast track to replace A-Rod at third.  It was enjoyable to see two players with ties to the organization selected by the Yankees.  Paul O’Neill’s nephew, Michael, an outfielder, and Andy Pettitte’s son, Josh.  Of course, Pettitte was just a token selection as a hat tip to Andy as he’ll never negotiate or sign with the Yankees…at least not this year.  I love Josh’s potential, but it will be interesting to see what he is able to do at Baylor University.  Hopefully, the Yankees will have another chance at selecting him when he is ready to turn professional.  Then again, he could end up someplace like Pittsburgh, ala Gerrit Cole.  Given Paul O’Neill’s popularity in the Bronx, Michael O’Neill should be well received if/when he arrives.  Of course, he’ll need to perform to maintain the applause, but not many players get the grand treatment from the start.

With the promotion of catcher JR Murphy to AAA Scranton/Wilkes-Barre, I wonder if it is a matter of time before he supplants Austin Romine as the immediate catcher of the future pending the arrival of super-prospect Gary Sanchez…

It’s good to see that pitcher Michael Pineda is finally throwing again.  The trade with Seattle was starting to look rather one-sided, but now Jesus Montero is in the minors and the Mariners have called up another catching prospect to the major league team, while Pineda is getting his arm back in shape.  I could easily see the Yankees dumping Phil Hughes to drop Pineda in his rotation spot.

I think I am in the mood for a few consecutive Yankee wins.  C’mon, guys, pick up the intensity in Anaheim!…

–Scott

 

None of it makes any cents…

Wells, that was not quite the answer I was looking for…

I have never been a big fan of Los Angeles Angels outfielder Vernon Wells, and was one of many who quietly laughed when the Angels took his financial albatross of a contract off the hands of the Toronto Blue Jays.  But I guess it is apparently better to have the last laugh and that would not be me.  The move allowed the Blue Jays to re-group to the point that they now have arguably the best team in the American League East.  And, as health would have it (or lack there of), the Yankees find they have the need to take what’s left of Wells off the Angels hand so that they can pay those hefty contracts belonging to Albert Pujols and Josh Hamilton.  Granted, the Angels will be paying most of the freight to bring Wells to the Bronx (assuming the deal goes through as expected), but he has been the Crown Prince of Disappointment for so many years.  Yes, he’s had a good spring, but so have a lot of guys who didn’t amount to a hill of beans in the big leagues.

At first I heard that the Yankees would be paying less than $10 million on the Wells contract which has $42 million more to go until it expires following the 2014.  But the latest word has the Yankees paying up to $13 million which means it will probably be more like $15 million or more when the deal is finally announced.

With the opening day absences of Derek Jeter, Curtis Granderson, Alex Rodriguez, and Mark Teixeira, the Yankees need proven production in the lineup.  Robinson Cano is only one man.  There’s question marks at every turn, but the likelihood of Curtis Granderson’s return is far better than Mark Teixeira (who some say could miss the season).  This means I would have preferred to see the Yankees allocate resources toward an alternative first baseman.  The prospect of outfielder Juan Rivera playing first on a full or part-time basis is just not very satisfying for me.

But speaking of first base, the only talk I hear is the potential acquisition of first baseman Lyle Overbay from the Boston Red Sox.  Overbay can opt out of his deal this week and that would put him at the forefront of Yankees’ attention.

None of these acquisitions will give anyone illusions of a championship.

At some point, the Yankees are going to have to just blow it up and start over…

This is the time of hard cuts.  I saw today that the Cleveland Indians cut Daisuke Matsuzaka.  Okay, I don’t consider that a hard cut, but there will be notable names mentioned in the coming days.  It is hard to believe that the Yankees will be powering up Yankee Stadium just one short week from tomorrow.  As for the Yankees, I remain hopeful that both Ben Francisco and Brennan Boesch will travel north with the club despite the apparent acquisition of Vernon Wells.  While I’ve been pulling for Boesch, I have to say that Francisco has played well enough to start at least as part of a platoon.  I seriously doubt that Travis Hafner and Kevin Youkilis will make it through the season injury-free so at some point, Wells will probably start to take the majority of the at-bats at DH.

I guess there should be plenty of drama this week as MLB teams shape up their opening day rosters.

It’s just a number…

As a Minnesota Vikings fan, I am still trying to wrap my head around Greg Jennings playing for the Vikings.  After Darren Sharper, Ryan Longwell, and Brett Favre, I should be used to this.  Jennings may not have the athleticism of departed slot receiver Percy Harvin, but if healthy, he is a weapon.  It’s interesting that he selected #15.  I can’t say that I can remember another Viking who wore the number although I am sure a few have.  Of course, #15 for me is always going to be Thurman Munson but that’s a different sport.  Greg Childs currently holds Jennings’ Packer number, #85.  After missing his first season due to injury, I can’t say that his grasp on #85 is very strong.  Perhaps Jennings is just biding his time until he can retrieve #85.  Childs’ childhood friend and lifelong teammate, Jarius Wright, is clearly the favorite to fill Harvin’s role.

Decisions…

Part of me wants the Vikings to sign former Chicago Bears middle linebacker Brian Urlacher, but of course, the sensible part of me only wants guys that can be part of the future as the door is starting to open for the Vikings again as a play-off contender.  I would like to see the Vikings to find a way to bring Antoine Winfield back to purple and gold.  I have faith in the younger guys and GM Rick Spielman has shown that he knows a thing or two about the NFL Draft so I am sure the secondary will be addressed next month.  I am anxious to see what Josh Robinson is capable of, but it would be nice to have Winfield to help the transition.

Hey Zygi…

I like the job that Leslie Frazier has done with the Vikings and I am hopeful that it will lead to a long-term contract.

Next month is a big sports month.  Opening day in Major League Baseball and the NFL Draft.  It should be a very fun time.  And for my friends in the East and Midwest, it should mean a little less snow…

–Scott