Tagged: Boston

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.

jose-quintana-mlb-chicago-white-sox-texas-rangers

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

Out from the Cole…

Let someone else try…

While I greatly respect Boston Globe columnist Nick Cafardo, his column today that implies the Yankees have come the closest in making a bid for Philadelphia Phillies starter Cole Hamels just doesn’t make sense to me.  While I agree that Hamels is a top shelf starter, I find it very hard to believe that the team would be willing to part with top prospects and major league talent to acquire Hamels.  This past winter, they could have acquired Max Scherzer for nothing more than money and a draft pick.

If the team is serious about its bid to get younger, acquiring the 31 year old Hamels is not the answer.  You’d only acquire Hamels if you legitimately felt you had a shot for the World Series.  The Yankees are not at the doorstep for the Fall Classic and they wouldn’t be even if they acquired Hamels.

I know there is great risk with any prospect and of course the path to the major leagues is littered by sure fire prospects who never made it.  In the past, Yankee fans have been teased with the hype associated with players like Jesus Montero and Manny Banuelos.  Montero is in Seattle and while he may still be the player people thought he would be, he hasn’t done it yet and despite his injury history, Michael Pineda is a better player at this point in their respective careers.  Manny Banuelos is in Atlanta and he brought a couple of arms for the bullpen.  Perhaps guys like Gary Sanchez, Luis Severino and Aaron Judge are over-hyped because they are Yankees, but still, I would hate to see them leave and prosper in Philly.  I am sure that I felt the same way about Montero and Banuelos at some point, but I do believe the Yankees have made a concerted effort to improve their drafts in recent years.

At a time when there is competitive balance in the MLB thanks to profit sharing and luxury taxes paid by the richer teams and primarily the Yankees, the Yankees have the financial strength to employ the best scouts to uncover the diamonds in the rough.  If over a century of Yankees baseball has proven anything, the Yankees know how to adapt and they’ll continue to do so.  But the key is getting younger and getting more cost controlled players.  That’s why a move for Cole Hamels just does not make sense.

I would love to see Hamels in the Yankees starting rotation.  But I simply do not want to part with the farm system to do it.  Whoever acquires Hamels is going to overpay.  Let some other team overpay, even if it is the Boston Red Sox.

–Scott

For a few dollars more…

Like many Yankees fans, I found myself very disappointed that the Yankees lost Cuban free agent infielder Yoan Moncada to the Boston Red Sox.  After an off-season of inactivity, it felt like the Yankees would make the winning push to bring Moncada to the Bronx.  Then, to come up short to the Red Sox, feels so wrong.  The money the Yankees were offering Moncada was huge ($25 million with the potential to go to $27.5 million), particularly considering the 100% tax associated with the bid had it won.  Boston was all-in with over $31 million, and we are left to wonder why the Yankees couldn’t push a little bit harder.

I know, a 19 year old who has not proven himself and is at least two years from the major leagues.  Still, under best case scenario, he would have been THE replacement for Robinson Cano.  Perhaps the Yankees feel that they are in good hands with Rob Refsnyder at second and potentially Eric Jagielo in a few years at third.  If Moncada puts up Hall of Fame numbers in Boston, this one will be forever a hard one to take.  I felt that he was a blue chip, can’t miss prospect and he certainly would have zoomed to the top of the Yankees prospect list had he signed.

Conversely, if he flops, this will sting in Beantown and Hal Steinbrenner will look like a genius.  But somehow, I suspect that Moncada will be alright and Hal’s frugal mind will leave the Yankees as the bridesmaids.  It’s hard to think of a guy who is spending nearly $235 million to field a team this year as a frugal mind but he is unquestionably more bottom line oriented than his father was.

If the Yankees fail to advance to the play-offs for the third year in a row, it is going to place great pressure on Joe Girardi and Brian Cashman.  But it’s the owner’s decision to go young and cut costs so time will tell if the manager and GM are the casualties.  I am not looking for Girardi to leave.  If he does get the ax, there’s not really anyone out there that I think could do a better job (who is not already employed).

This is a tough year.  We have to have faith that the young moves for guys like Didi Gregorius and Nathan Eovaldi will pay off.  Can they bridge the gap to when the farm system is ready and capable of producing major league talent?

If Brian McCann, Carlos Beltran, Mark Teixeira, CC Sabathia, and, egads, Alex Rodriguez can’t turn  back the clock, it’s going to be a long year in the Bronx and the future, without Moncada, is still a bit unclear.

I am not sure what I would do if I was the owner of the Yankees.  It is so important to get a collection of cost controlled players to supplement the larger contracts.  Everyone on the 25 man roster can’t be a mega-millionaire.  Something has to give.  But with the younger players, after years of picking lower in the draft or not having any top draft picks, the Yankees have to figure out a way to be creative.  The loopholes that they’ve exploited for a century have closed and they need to find new ways to exert their financial strength.  Otherwise, it’s going to be a long time before a World Series championship returns to its rightful home.

My guess for a World Series champion in 2015 is the easy pick…the Washington Nationals.  On paper, they have it top to bottom.  But inevitably, it will be some surprise team that no one saw coming.  But sadly, the Yankees will most likely be home for the holidays by October.

As usual, I hope they prove me wrong…

–Scott