Tagged: Boston

For Gary, the Price is Right!…

Credit:  Mike Stobe-Getty Images

Yankees 9, Red Sox 1…

Admittedly, I was glad that it was David Price on the mound Thursday and not Chris Sale.  For an ace, I’ve never been worried when Price is pitching against the Yankees as they generally seem to come up big against him.  Thursday was no exception.  

Credit:  Mike Stobe-Getty Images

As John Sterling says, “Gary is scary”.  A night after Chris Carter almost hit two home runs, Gary accomplished the feat for his second multi-homer game in a week.  They had meat in them as both occurred with runners on base (solo homers seem don’t carry the same bang for the buck in a statement of the obvious).  Like Wednesday’s game, the Yankees scored first with Brett Gardner’s run-scoring single in the bottom of the 2nd.  Then, like Chris Carter the day before, Gary Sanchez got a hold of David Price’s pitch with Aaron Judge and Matt Holliday on base and deposited it over the left-center wall to give the Yankees a nice cushion.  Sanchez went deep again in the 5th, with a blast to center off Price, scoring Starlin Castro.  Gary was 2-for-4 with 5 RBI’s and 3 runs scored.  

Gary has hit Price well in his brief career.  He is 4-for-7 with four home runs.  As Gary starts to heat up, it is scary to think what the Yankees offense is capable of when it is hitting all cylinders.  Even when they are not, it seems like someone is coming up big (unless your name is Chase Headley).  

It was also an impressive night for Aaron Judge, even without any homers.  He was 3-for-4, with two runs scored, pushing his season batting average to .330.  His single in the sixth inning off Red Sox reliever Fernando Abad was the hardest hit ball of the year according to Statcast.  With exit velocity of 119.8 mph, Judge pushed two of his own prior efforts to second and third on the Exit Velocity leaderboard.  

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

Brett Gardner took the lead in the Bald Brothers Battle with his 13th home run of the season, a fly to center in the 8th when the game was no longer in doubt.  I was really hoping that Matt Holliday would be able to match Gardner two batters later, but he was hit by a pitch, taking the bat out of his hands prematurely.  

I have to mention the great running catch by Ronald Torreyes in the 9th.  As a defensive substitution for Didi Gregorius after Austin Romine had pinch hit for Didi, Torreyes ran toward the left field foul area after Xander Bogaerts hit a sharp fly.  Sliding past the foul line, Torreyes made the catch to record the first out.  Plays like this show the 2017 Yankees are a team that likes to have fun.  You could see the appreciation from his teammates as Torreyes walked back on field.  

Just when you thought Chris Carter was finally starting to hit, he was 0-for-4 as his batting average slipped below .200 again (.195).  He was the only starter not to reach base through a hit or a walk.  Chase Headley committed his 10th error of the season, matching his season total last year.  

Lost among the stellar night by Sanchez was a tremendous start by Michael Pineda (7-3).  After the disaster in his last start against the Toronto Blue Jays, Pineda was on top of his game against the Sox.  He held Red Sox batters to only four hits over seven innings, and only allowed one unearned run.  He walked two and struck out eight in the dominating performance.  

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

The quartet of Pineda, CC Sabathia, Luis Severino and Jordan Montgomery have really been fun to watch with the most recent run through the rotation.  Masahiro Tanaka, not so much…

As for the bullpen, I thought Adam Warren and Giovanny Gallegos did good jobs.  Warren pitched a clean 8th inning, recording one strikeout.  Gallegos came on in the 9th, and easily got the first two batters out.  Manager Joe Girardi then made a pitching change to bring Dellin Betances into the game.  Betances clearly had rust, having not pitched for about five days.  He walked Hanley Ramirez.  Ramirez subsequently took 2nd on defensive indifference.  Dellin struck out the next batter, Jackie Bradley, Jr, but the ball got away from Gary Sanchez for a wild pitch, and JBJ made it safely to first with Ramirez taking third.  Like Ramirez, JBJ then took 2nd on defensive indifference.  Josh Rutledge followed with a walk to load the bases.  I have to say that I was getting a bit concerned, even with a 9-1 lead.  Fortunately, Dellin ended the game with the next batter, Pablo Sandoval, on a called third strike.  For what should have been a short one-out stint, Betances ended up throwing 17 pitches.  Hopefully, the work proves beneficial for the upcoming Baltimore series.  

Credit:  Charles Wenzelberg

Coming into the Boston series, the Red Sox could have taken the AL East lead with a sweep.  But thanks to two Yankees victories following the opening game loss, New York (34-23) increased its lead to 3 games.  The Baltimore Orioles lost to the Washington Nationals, 6-1, dropping 3 1/2 games back.

I never thought that we’d hold Boston to only one run in two games, but it’s been a very fun couple of nights.  I am hoping for a similar result in the upcoming series against the Baltimore Orioles at Yankee Stadium.

Odds & Ends…

Greg Bird should be back soon.  He is saying that he is as close to 100% as he has been since spring training.  On Thursday, he moved up from High-A Tampa to AAA-Scranton/Wilkes-Barre on rehab assignment.  He was 1-for-3 with a single and two walks in SWB’s 3-2 loss to Lehigh Valley.  I liked his comments when asked how will he know when he’s ready:  “Some magical sign. Lightning will strike my bat”.  He was kidding, of course, but if he starts hitting like he did in Spring Training, it’s going to be a very fun summer.

Here are the pitching match-ups for the three-game series with the Baltimore Orioles that begins tonight.  

FRIDAY

Orioles:  Dylan Bundy (6-4, 2.93 ERA)

Yankees:  Jordan Montgomery (3-4, 3.67 ERA)

SATURDAY

Orioles:  Chris Tillman (1-3, 5.59 ERA)

Yankees:  Luis Severino (4-2, 2.90 ERA)

SUNDAY

Orioles:  Kevin Gausman (3-4, 5.86 ERA)

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

Have a great Friday!  As always, Go Yankees!

CC and the Backdoor Slider…

Credit:  Frank Franklin II-Associated Press

Yankees 8, Red Sox 0…

Much better!


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.  

Credit:  MiLB.com

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!

Losing that Winning Feeling…

Credit:  Adam Hunger-USA TODAY Sports, via Reuters

Red Sox 5, Yankees 4…


I was not confident with Masahiro Tanaka on Tuesday night and he proved my concerns to be correct with yet another horrendous start.  Tanaka has become the National League’s version of the pitcher batting (generally speaking)…an automatic out or in this case, an automatic loss.  


I did not like the thought of Tanaka opening the series with the Red Sox because of the fear that he’d put us at the disadvantage.  He’s easily the weakest link in the rotation right now and I have no clue what can be done to turn him around.  If he’s not hurt, there is no explanation for why he’s become a batting practice pitcher on the mound during games.


The first two Red Sox batters at the start of the game both singled.  So, there were runners at the corner before Tanaka could even record an out.  It looked like it could have been a big inning for the Sox, but Tanaka was able to limit the damage to one run.  


The Sox scored three runs in the fourth.  After an inning opening walk to Xander Bogaerts, Mitch Moreland and Hanley Ramirez went deep for back-to-back homers.  


The Yankees had a threat going in the bottom of the fourth after two one-out singles, but Chase Headley hit into a double-play to kill the potential rally.  Headley was 0-for-3 for the game.


The next inning, Tanaka served up another home run, this time a solo shot by the youngster Andrew Benintendi.  The Sox were up 5-1 and it would be all the runs they would need on this night.


The Yankees tried to scratch and claw their way back.  Chris Carter opened the bottom of the fifth with a home run.  Aaron Judge doubled with two outs, but Matt Holliday struck out to strand Judge.


In the bottom of the sixth, Starlin Castro and Aaron Hicks both singled, bringing Didi Gregorius to the plate.  Didi hit into a double play, but Castro was able to score on the play to close the gap to 5-3.


The next and last opportunity for the Yankees would be in the eighth.  Matt Holliday opened with a double.  After the next two batters recorded outs, Didi was up again.  The Red Sox brought closer Craig Kimbrel into the game.  Kimbrel struck out Didi swinging, but it was a wild pitch and Didi beat the throw to first base to keep the inning alive and allow Holliday to score.  5-4, Red Sox.  Chris Carter could have rehabilitated his image in the eyes of Yankees fans with a key hit, but he struck out to end the inning.  Kimbrel would go on to strike out the side in the ninth to finish with five strikeouts in four outs, picking up his 17th save.

Credit:  Associated Press

The Yankees were 0-for-10 with runners in scoring position.  This was their 14th loss in 25 games since May 8th.  


Aaron Judge made a great catch in the second inning, jumping and crashing into the right field wall to take an extra base hit away from Jackie Bradley, Jr.  Although he had the game-ending strikeout, he was 2-for-4 with a walk.  He was trying.

The Yankees bullpen did an outstanding job to hold the Sox scoreless after Tanaka departed, but special acknowledgement goes to Chad Green for his 3 1/3 innings of perfect relief with 5 strikeouts.  


The final line on Tanaka (5-6) was 5 IP, 5 hits, 5 runs, 1 BB, 2 K, 3 HR.  This process of Tanaka trying to find his pitches in games is killing us.  


The Red Sox matched the Yankees (32-23) in total victories and moved to within one game of the AL East lead (the Sox have two more losses than the Yankees).  The Baltimore Orioles beat the Pittsburgh Pirates 6-5 in 10 innings so they moved to within 2 1/2 games.


Odds & Ends…


Major League Baseball released its first AL Update for the All-Star Game voting on Tuesday.  The leader is Aaron Judge with 1,251,543 votes.  He overtook the injured Mike Trout by 96,187 votes.  In the AL Outfield, Brett Gardner is 9th with 364,493.  In the ‘I don’t know what the heck they were thinking’ category is Jacoby Ellsbury with 269,974 votes.  Aaron Hicks is far more deserving of those votes.


Other Yankees in the AL Results:  


Catcher:  Gary Sanchez (4th behind Salvador Perez, Wellington Castillo and Brian McCann) with 461,152 votes.  First Base:  Yeah, right.  Second Base:  Starlin Castro (2nd behind Jose Altuve) with 778,699 votes.  Third Base:  Oops, no one is covering.  Shortstop:  Didi Gregorius (3rd behind Francisco Lindor and Carlos Correa) with 397,326 votes.  DH:  Matt Holliday (2nd behind Nelson Cruz) with 460,355 votes.  


This year’s All-Star Game will be held at Marlins Park in Miami on Tuesday, July 11th.


Aroldis Chapman is targeting the upcoming A’s series for his return.  The Yankees will be in Oakland for a four-game set starting Thursday, June 15th.  I am very anxious to show a showdown between Chapman and the A’s Rajai Davis with the game on the line.  I feel that a healthy and rested Chapman is the superior competitor in that situation and I want to see Davis strike out to lose the game (as retribution for his home run off Chapman in Game 7 of the World Series).


On Monday, the Baltimore Orioles acquired infielder Ruben Tejada from the Yankees for cash considerations and assigned him to AAA.  On Tuesday, they elevated him to the Major League roster.  Things seem to have worked out for Tejada in his new home as he was not likely to see the Big Leagues in Pinstripes anytime soon.  I just hope this doesn’t become a Steve Pearce situation where he starts crushing home runs for the O’s.  


Chance Adams took the loss on Tuesday night in the Scranton/Wilkes-Barre RailRiders’ 8-1 loss to the Rochester Red Wings.  He pitched six innings, giving up 3 hits and 3 runs.  He walked 4 batters, allowed one home run, and struck out 7.  The outing pushed his ERA to 2.17.  The winning pitcher for the Red Wings was former Yankees prospect Nik Turley (who had 15 strikeouts).


Have a great Wednesday!  On the bright side, Masahiro Tanaka is not pitching today.  Go Yankees!

Beat the Best to be the Best…

Credit:  Tom Szczerbowski-Getty Images

The Rivalry…

The Yankees and the Red Sox rekindle Baseball’s best rivalry tonight.  The Yankees begin play two games ahead of the Red Sox in the division standings.  Boston, the pre-season favorite to the win the AL East, has slowly been moving up the standings.  They are 6-4 in their last 10 games, and have won two in a row.

The Red Sox are currently without the services of the gutsy Dustin Pedroia.  Pedroia is on the DL with a left wrist sprain.  He is not eligible to be activated until Friday.  Boston is also without starting pitcher Eduardo Rodriguez as he went on the DL over the weekend with right knee subluxation (partial dislocation).  

The Yankees will miss Chris Sale, who was the starter on Sunday in Boston’s 7-3 win over the Baltimore Orioles, this series. Boston’s talented young left-fielder Andrew Benintendi is starting to heat up.  He had two home runs on Sunday to back Sale.  He is currently batting .269/.342/.413 and has 7 HR and 30 RBI.  He is second on the team with 8 stolen bases.

Credit:  David Goldman-Associated Press

Jackie Bradley, Jr, after a horrific start is also coming around.  Batting .269 with 7 HR and 24 RBI, he has a home run and 6 RBI’s in the last four games (5-for-13).


As Yankees manager Joe Girardi said over the weekend, it’s one big series after another right now.  If the Yankees intend to be players in the AL East for the long haul this season, they need to make a statement.  Since they’ve begun this rugged 13 consecutive game stretch against AL East opponents, the Yankees are 3-4.  With the next 6 games at home against the Red Sox and Orioles, the Yankees can help themselves…or not.  

The scheduled pitching match-ups for the Red Sox series are:

TODAY

Red Sox:  Drew Pomeranz (5-3, 4.24 ERA)

Yankees:  Masahiro Tanaka (5-5, 6.34 ERA)

WEDNESDAY

Red Sox:  Rick Porcello (3-7, 4.24 ERA)

Yankees:  CC Sabathia (6-2, 4.12 ERA)

THURSDAY

Red Sox:  David Price (1-0, 3.00 ERA)

Yankees:  Michael Pineda (6-3, 3.76 ERA)

Better to Rent or to Buy…

The arguments have been made for why the Yankees should stick to plan and forego any expensive rentals for the mid-summer.  I get the logic.  Does it make sense to part with Justus Sheffield, Clint Frazier, or Jorge Mateo to bring someone in for a few months when the youngsters can be part of the impending “dynasty”?  

Yet, when you hear Yankees General Partner/Co-Chairperson Hank Steinbrenner make comments like, “Oh yeah.  We’re greedy.  We want to win this year.”, you know that it’s possible common sense may take a backseat.  

Speculation is starting to run rampant with third base possibilities. I’ve seen a few articles centered on Todd Frazer as a potential trade target.  His pic with Derek Jeter as a child is a nice story but it doesn’t mean I want the guy on my team.  Frazier had 40 home runs last year, but he only batted .225/.302/.464.  He has gotten off to a much worst start this year with only 8 homers, 25 RBI’s and a line of .195/.306/.396.  The 31-year-old probably represents a buy low candidate but I am not enthused.  He is making $12 million this year and will be a free agent after the season is over.  I’ve already jettisoned Frazier from a couple of fantasy baseball teams.  If the Yankees could acquire for some names that I’ve never heard of and will never hear again, I could probably buy into giving it a try.  Otherwise, I don’t want to lose good prospects for a guy who is flirting with the Mendoza line (and on the wrong side to boot).  

If the Yankees have to make a move, I’d probably be more in favor of Mike Moustakas.  Also  a free agent at the end of the year, Moustakas is making $8.7 million this year with better numbers.  He has 14 home runs and 29 RBI’s and is batting .255/.295/.510.  Both Moustakas and Frazier had fielding percentages of .947 entering play yesterday.  Moustakas is younger…he’ll be 29 in September. 

It all boils down to cost.  How much?  If the Yankees can make moves to improve the team without sacrificing key talent, they should do it.  If not, stand pat.  The great thing about a top farm system is redundancy at certain positions.  Thairo Estrada is doing a great job at AA-Trenton but he plays second base/shortstop.  It is a position of strength for the Yankees with Gleyber Torres, Tyler Wade, Jorge Mateo and others.  If trades could create opportunity for redundant players blocked in the system, I am not opposed to their inclusion in potential roster-enhancing moves.  


This is a tough call.  I recognize that the Yankees are building for something greater but I also know that when you have your opportunities for October baseball, you make the most of it.  There does need to be a good short-term plan with long-term vision.  If you get a ticket to the dance, you never know what can happen.  

Odds & Ends…

Because of Sunday’s rainout, Chance Adams scheduled start for AAA-Scranton/Wilkes-Barre was pushed from Monday to today.  Bryan Mitchell, Sunday’s scheduled starter, took the mound on Monday night in the RailRiders’ 6-3 win over the Rochester Red Wings.  He didn’t figure in the decision as he only lasted 2 1/3 innings, giving up 3 hits and 2 runs.  Domingo German, pitching in relief for the first time since 2012, gave a start-like relief performance in picking up the win.  German limited the Red Wings to 5 hits and 1 run over 5 2/3 innings, while striking out 7.  Ben Heller picked up his first save.

The RailRiders victory featured the first home run, a three-run shot, by super prospect Gleyber Torres.  Torres was 3-for-3 with a walk, and he drove in 4 RBI’s.  

Tyler Austin completed his rehab assignment and was re-assigned to Scranton/Wilkes-Barre.  It’s just a matter of time before Austin gets the call for the short trip to NYC.  Rob Refsnyder offers better versatility with his ability to play second and third, in addition to first base and the outfield.  But at some point, his bat needs to start producing.  If not, the Yanks are better served by first baseman/OF Austin.  

Have a great Tuesday!  Hopefully we’ll see the “good” Tanaka later today.  Go Yanks!

Trying To Temper The Enthusiasm…

Credit:  Andy Martin/USA TODAY Sports

With the better-than-expected start to the season, it’s easy to get caught up with the thinking that the Yankees could actually win the American League East.  Sadly, I still do not believe that will be the case.  I think the Boston Red Sox remain the heavy favorite to win the division.  While the Yankees may be playing great without Gary Sanchez and Didi Gregorius, the Red Sox are starting to gather some steam even though Jackie Bradley, Jr. and arguably their best player, Mookie Betts, are currently on the DL.  Add Betts to the stellar starting rotation, and the Red Sox will be a very formidable force throughout the summer.  We’ll have some bumps and bruises with the younger starters as time goes by, and there’s no certainty that Michael Pineda has finally turned the corner.  My only reservation with the Red Sox is that they do not seem to have the same heart they did with David Ortiz in the lineup.  Hanley Ramirez is a great baseball player but he’s no Big Papi.  

Nevertheless, I do feel the strong start has positioned the Yankees to make a run at a Wild Card spot, especially with the horrific start of the perennial playoff contending Toronto Blue Jays. 

While the Yankees are currently chasing Baltimore, the Orioles lost their lock-down closer Zach Britton for at least ten days with a left sore forearm (his throwing arm).  Britton is obviously an elite closer so this severely weakens the O’s pen.  Although it’s possible that Britton will be back before the O’s get to New York late next week, they do go into a head-to-head showdown with the Red Sox starting Friday night for a three-game set in their weakened state.

It is amazing to think that the Yankees have played this well without Gregorius and Sanchez.  If they can continue to get solid pitching from the starting rotation, the return of Gregorius and Sanchez in a few weeks should be a great lift.  It’ll almost be like getting All-Star caliber players at the trading deadline with the only difference being the Yankees do not have to give up any premier prospects (or any prospects, for that matter, other than the probable DFA of Pete Kozma). 

The Yankees announced they’ve traded reliever Johnny Barbato to the Pittsburgh Pirates for a player to be named later or cash.  Those types of deals usually turn out to be cash.  Barbato was optioned to AAA by the Pirates.  It’s unfortunate that the Yankees didn’t get more out of Barbato considering they gave up dependable reliever Shawn Kelley to get him.  The Pirates always seem to get high mileage out of Yankee rejects.  Barbato will probably be their ace closer within a couple of years.  

I apologize in advance for going off topic (non-Yankees talk) but I have been very interested in watching Cody Bellinger, a first baseman in the Los Angeles Dodgers organization.  Bellinger, son of former Yankee Clay Bellinger, is the Dodgers top prospect and the heir apparent to Adrian Gonzalez.  On Sunday, Bellinger was responsible for all three runs in Oklahoma City’s 3-2 win over the Memphis Redbirds.  Bellinger scored a run after walking in the fourth; tied the game with a solo homer in the fifth; and singled in the go-ahead run in the seventh.  For the season, the 21-year-old Bellinger is batting .372 (16-for-43) with 4 doubles, 3 homers, and 12 RBI’s.  Meanwhile, for the Big League Dodgers, the 34-year-old Gonzalez is hitting .250 with no homers and 4 RBI’s.  If Bellinger keeps it up, there could soon be a changing of the guard at first base in Dodger Stadium.  Looks like the Dodgers could be back to the days of bringing up an All-Star to the Majors every year.  If Bellinger does not get the call, top pitching prospect Julio Urias most certainly will.  

Credit:  Rob Tringali/Getty Images

Speaking of the Oklahoma City Dodgers (in an attempt to keep this Yankees-oriented), it’s kind of cool that their stadium, Chickasaw Bricktown Ballpark, is located at 2 S. Mickey Mantle Drive.  Too bad there was no room to build the stadium across the street and down a little for 7 S. Mickey Mantle Drive.

In other non-Yankees news (or is it?), Bryan Harper stepped to the plate on Sunday in the bottom of the ninth with two outs, with the Washington Nationals trailing the Philadelphia Phillies 4-3 and Philly closer Joaquin Benoit on the mound.  With two runners on base, Harper homered to center to win the game, 6-4.  It was his second home run of the game and it gave him 5 RBI’s for the day.  Preview of coming attractions at Yankee Stadium?  Time will tell, as it often does.  Hal, what’s a half-billion in the grand scheme of things?  It’s just money…

Welcome back, Matt Holliday!  After sitting out two games against his former team, the St Louis Cardinals, this past weekend, Matt Holliday returned on Monday to absolutely crush a baseball which allowed the Yankees to jump ahead of the Chicago White Sox with an early 3-0 lead.  The ball traveled 459 feet, with exit velocity of 113.9 MPH, and according to Statcast was the second longest homer of the year (two feet behind a Carlos Gomez blast). 

Aaron Judge also homered in the fourth inning with one on and two outs.

Jordan Montgomery impressed once again.  You gotta love his calm demeanor on the mound (unflappable).  His deceptive arm angle is a thing of beauty with the over the top motion.  Montgomery gave up three runs and seven hits in six innings of work, with two walks and two strikeouts.  The runs didn’t come until the seventh inning when Montgomery was tiring (a three run bomb by Yolmer Sanchez that ended Montgomery’s night).  Regardless of the end, Montgomery was better the second time around (as I thought he would be).  He’s an exciting part of the rotation and is quickly earning his pinstripes for the long haul.  

Credit:  Jim McIsaac/Getty Images

Adam Warren did what he does best.  After Montgomery’s exit, he bridged the gap to the ninth inning.  Although he finally allowed a run, he did his job and turned the game over to Aroldis Chapman with one out and a runner on base.  Although Chapman did allow a single to the first hitter, pushing the lead runner to third, he needed just two pitches to earn his fourth save.  The next batter, Tyler Saladino, hit into a game-ending double play.

The Yankees won 7-4, and have now won eight consecutive games.  

Have a great Tuesday!  Nine would be just fine!  

No need to counter Boston’s moves…

All Quiet on the Eastern Front…

It has been a very quiet end of the year for the Yankees.  There were rumors of the Yankees talking with the Chicago White Sox about Jose Quintana and David Robertson but they quickly lost legs.  While the Yankees need starting pitching, I agree that it is best not to raid the newly stocked farm system.  It is a risk to bet on prospects over an established major leaguer, but while Jose Quintana is a good pitcher, he’s not Chris Sale.  Given Chicago’s desire for top prospects in return, it just does not make sense.  Quintana will not be a 2017 difference maker.

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Credit:  Kevin Jairaj, USA Today Sports

I still believe the Yankees are better served by identifying an undervalued young starter with potential.  Sure, that’s every team’s wish but the Yankees have the scouts and resources to uncover the hidden gems.  It is harder to pitch in New York than it is in, say, Pittsburgh, but for some guys, the main stage brings out their full potential.

The New York Mets’ Noah Syndergaard was once just a prospect included in a trade (when the Mets dealt knuckleballer R.A. Dickey to the Toronto Blue Jays).  I think that trade has worked out very well in favor of the Mets.  It also brought them starting catcher Travis D’Arnaud.  The 2012 trade was a risk for the Mets given Dickey was the reigning NL Cy Young winner, but he has never been as good as he was in 2011 and the other guys sent to Toronto are after thoughts (Josh Thole and Mike Nickeas).

The Yankees are not going to win the World Series in 2017.  The current blueprint puts the Yankees on the path to World Series contention in two to three years.  They have the time to develop frontline starters so why not take a chance on some other team’s “Jake Arrieta”.  The Chicago Cubs saw something in the former Baltimore Orioles hurler and it has paid off quite handsomely for them.

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I have high hopes for the Yankees young pitching prospects.  James Kaprielian heads the list, but I haven’t forgotten or given up hope for Ian Clarkin.  Jordan Montgomery and Dietrich Enns are other homegrown prospects that come to mind.  The first young starters that will be given the chance to crack the rotation next season are the obvious ones…Luis Cessa and Chad Green.  There’s also the hope that Luis Severino restores the promise that he showed in 2015 and is not just another failed starter that succeeds in the pen.  Trade acquisitions Justus Sheffield, Dillon Tate, and Albert Abreu also hold promise.

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Credit:  MLB.com

If Severino is successful and just one of the young prospects stands out in the Spring, the rotation that already includes Masahiro Tanaka, Michael Pineda and CC Sabathia does not look so bad.  It might not be ‘Chris Sale-David Price-Rick Porcello-Eduardo Rodriguez’ worthy, but the foundation is being laid for future success.  It will be imperative for the Yankees to re-sign Tanaka should he opt out of his contract following the season, but Sabathia’s departure as he plays out the final year of his contract will continue to create opportunity for the young prospects.  Michael Pineda is a case by himself.  He is either a really great starter or a disaster.  If he can ever hold the focus on the former, the pitching staff will be significantly improved.

Next season, young players like Gary Sanchez, Aaron Judge, Tyler Austin, and Greg Bird will play prominent roles for the Yankees.  If any are not successful, there is another wave of young players waiting for their opportunities at Scranton/Wilkes-Barre or Trenton.  It is inevitable that we’ll see outfielder Clint Frazier at some point in the season, even if it is just a September call-up.  I don’t want to lose this talent in the farm system for the chance on a pitcher which always seems to be the biggest risk in baseball.  Gleyber Torres has already shown that he has that “it” factor even if he is still a few years away from the Bronx.  Stay the course.  GM Brian Cashman’s blue print so far has been successful.  He has turned what was one of the worst farm systems a few years ago to one of the best.  They have the talent and depth in the system to make quiet but effective trades without sacrificing the organization’s best.

2017 may not be a banner year for the team but clearly the light is visible at the end of the tunnel.  Now is not the time for the Ghost of Steinbrenner Past to raise its ugly head.  Young Hal seems to have a plan and one that will soon yield fruit.  Patience.  Stick to the plan…

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—Scott

Well, that didn’t turn out as planned…

Be careful what you ask for…

In my last post, I stated my preference for Masahiro Tanaka to be named the Opening Day starter.  This, of course, was before Joe Girardi announced that Tanaka, in fact, would be the starter.  So of course, Tanaka promptly bombed as the Yankees were throttled by the Toronto Blue Jays, 6-1.

The start didn’t change my opinion that Tanaka was the best choice.  Michael Pineda is the next best starter on the staff, but he didn’t deserve the nod over Tanaka.  CC Sabathia may have been the sentimental choice if for no other reason than the consecutive years he has been the starter.  But his performance last season (injuries combined with the continued gradual decline) didn’t warrant the start either.  Nathan Eovaldi wasn’t going to get it, and neither was Adam Warren.  The right choice was made by Girardi even if the results indicated otherwise.

My concern, more than anything, is the health of Tanaka’s arm.  Yes, it was only one start and one start does not a season make.  But going to last year after he returned from the DL, the results of not been great.  If Tanaka has to learn to be a different pitcher at age 26 to lessen the strain on the elbow ligament, there’s no guarantee that he’ll be successful.  A solid outing would certainly help allay some of the concerns, but inevitably, I do feel this road leads to Tommy John surgery.  The sad part is that if he undergoes the surgery at any point this season, we most likely would not see him again until 2017, with 2018 being the target for a full return to health.

It’s too bad the Yankees do not have the quality starters to go six deep.  I’d rather lessen the load on Tanaka by spreading the distance between his starts.

Tanaka’s health certainly increases the spotlight on Adam Warren, as he’ll need to be the man to bridge the gap.  Today he is covering for Chris Capuano and Ivan Nova, but later in the summer, it could very well be for Tanaka.

Larry Rothschild is certainly earning his paycheck.  Earlier in the year, I didn’t think we’d see Luis Severino in the major leagues this year.  Now, it appears to be only a matter of time.

Another prospect lost…

It is hard not to get excited about certain prospects, and that certainly held true for catcher Austin Romine who was once billed as one of the organization’s best catching prospects along with since traded Jesus Montero.  Romine has the bloodline (his father Kevin played for the Boston Red Sox among other teams and his brother Andrew plays for the Detroit Tigers).  I was hopeful that Romine would use spring training to show the team that he belongs in New York.  It didn’t happen with a sub .200 batting average.  Perhaps the odds were against him since he was out of options and John Ryan Murphy, his competition for the back-up catching spot, is the better hitter.  Still, it was sad when the team announced just before the start of the season that it had designated Romine for assignment.  Maybe there’s a chance that he stays in the organization, but it seems inevitable that a trade is the more probable outcome as there isn’t much of a chance Romine could slide through waivers (teams need catching help too much, just ask Boston).  Romine has been an outstanding team guy and he’ll serve some organization well when/if he finally gets his chance at the Show.

A-Rod…

I am still not an A-Rod fan but I have to admit that he carried himself well in spring training and has done everything the team has asked.  If the Yankees suddenly found a way to rid themselves of A-Rod, I’d be all in favor.  But since that’s not going to happen, I’ll have to give A-Rod credit for not rocking the boat.

I still can’t bring myself to cheer for A-Rod but he’s effectively shut me up from booing for now.

*    *     *

I am glad that the baseball season is back but it would have been more exciting to open the season with a victory.  It was tougher to see the loss combined with a convincing Red Sox win on Opening Day.  Red Sox always gloat in victory so Opening Day was no exception.

I do feel more confident with Michael Pineda on the mound Wednesday, however, the team offense needs to step up their game.

Let’s Go, Yankees!

–Scott