Tagged: Brad Hand

Operation: Take Down Boston…

2nd Best Winning % in MLB but 2nd in the AL East…

It’s Friday and Baseball is back! Thanks to the All-Star Break, it’s been awhile since we’ve seen the Yankees on the field. Okay, any one not named Aaron Judge or Luis Severino. They’re back in the Bronx and ready to take on the not-so-high flyin’ Mets. One thing is sure, we’ll be seeing plenty of ink about Noah Syndergaard and Jacob deGrom and their potential connection to the Yankees over the next few days.  

Syndergaard takes the mound tonight against Domingo German, while deGrom matches up against Masahiro Tanaka on Sunday. As much as I’d love to have either pitcher, the realist in me knows that the likelihood either pitcher is traded to the Yankees is non-existent. The Mets are not going to send any of their top players to the Yankees regardless of the return.  

The Yankees begin the second half four-and-a-half games behind the Boston Red Sox in the AL East.  Hats off to the Red Sox for their brilliant first half.  They beat the teams they were supposed to. Mookie Betts has showed why he is one of the best players in Major League Baseball, and J.D. Martinez has proven to be the best off-season addition for any team (sorry, Giancarlo).  But it’s a new day and plenty of time for the Yankees to catch the Red Sox and put them in their rearview mirror.  The Yankees have 67 games remaining or three more than the Red Sox.  I think as long as the Yankees can keep winning series, they’ll be in great shape come September, or better yet, October.  The Red Sox have an easy start to the second half with the Detroit Tigers and Manny Machado-less Baltimore Orioles, a team that they already owned this season winning nine of ten games played.  However, there’s a big showdown with the Yankees at Fenway Park looming the first week of August.  This is a great chance for the Yankees to keep it close for the next couple of weeks and then make a huge statement in Boston with hopefully a win of the four-game series.  

I think it was tough for Yankees fans to see Manny Machado traded to the Los Angeles Dodgers this week. Many of us, myself included, envisioned what it would look like to see Manny in pinstripes. I know, it was a ‘want’ and not a ‘need’ but how beautiful would it have looked to insert Machado’s name into the Yankees lineup? It may still come to fruition after the season when Manny hits the open market, but of course that doesn’t help us today. The best part about Manny going to Los Angeles is that Yankees pitchers won’t have to face him again unless the Yankees and Dodgers meet in the World Series (a very nice problem to have). Manny destroyed the Yankees this year with six home runs. It’ll be nice to play the Baltimore Orioles for the remainder of the year without the  threat of Manny at bat. Hopefully the next home run he hits at Yankee Stadium will be while wearing Pinstripes. We’ll see.

Nice job by Machado in picking his new number for the Dodgers. His beloved #13 was already taken by this year’s breakout player, Max Muncy. Closer Kenley Jansen offered to pay Muncy to relinquish the number, but in the end, Manny chose a different number. Like Don Mattingly, who took #8 as a tribute for Yogi Berra when he joined the Dodgers coaching staff under Joe Torre a few years ago and later served as their manager, Machado has acquired the same number in honor of Orioles Hall of Famer Cal Ripken, Jr. A very classy move by Machado and a gesture I am sure the heartbroken O’s fans appreciate.  

The Yankees lost another trade target yesterday when the Cleveland Indians abruptly acquired San Diego closer Brad Hand yesterday. I was surprised at the high cost the Indians paid (top catching prospect Francisco Mejia) but Cleveland’s bullpen was a mess. Once they get Andrew Miller back on the field, the Indians bullpen, with Hand, Miller, closer Cody Allen, and newcomer Adam Cimber, appears to be very formidable, especially in the post-season. Former Yankees pitcher, and now Padres reliever, Phil Hughes had the best Twitter quote following the Hand trade:  “Just a few more trades and I’ll be the closer. Too soon?”  Former Yankee Kirby Yates is expected to take Hand’s place as San Diego’s closer, but even he has been the subject of trade speculation. Hughes, while clearly jesting, may in fact get his wish.  

Photo Credit: The San Diego Union-Tribune (K.C. Alfred)

Yankees fans are growing impatient but we’re still eleven days away from the non-waiver trading deadline. There’s time. GM Brian Cashman and his staff are working diligently behind the scenes. At this point, I am not really expecting a big splash but I do fully anticipate reinforcements in the not-so-distant future.  It was a year ago yesterday the Yankees acquired relievers David Robertson and Tommy Kahnle and third baseman Todd Frazier from the Chicago White Sox. If I had my wish, I’d probably prefer the acquisition of Orioles reliever Zach Britton who seems to be rounding back into form after his recovery from injuries. It’s not that I don’t feel the Yankees shouldn’t acquire a starter but the names of Michael Fulmer, J.A. Happ, and Cole Hamels are not inspiring to me. Dan O’Dowd of the MLB Network feels that Hamels would be re-energized with the chance to play in a pennant race, but c’mon, he clearly is not the pitcher he once was. The Yankees had scouts at Wrigley Field in Chicago yesterday to watch St Louis Cardinals starter Carlos Martinez. I’d love to have Martinez, 26, but his Yankees audition didn’t go so well as he took the loss against the Cubs, giving up six runs (five earned) over five innings, in the 9-6 defeat. Still, Martinez would be an upgrade if the Yankees can entice the Cardinals to part with the talented righty.

Photo Credit: AP (Charles Rex Arbogast)

The Yankees may have lost a valuable trading chip yesterday when outfielder Clint Frazier was pulled from a Scranton/Wilkes-Barre game for possible concussion symptoms after a failed diving attempt to catch a fly ball in the first inning. Frazier’s concussion in Spring Training cost him the first couple months of the season.

There will be one “newcomer” when the Yankees take the field tonight. Well, he is not quite a newcomer but Gary Sanchez will be back in  action behind the plate following his activation off the disabled list yesterday. If El Gary starts to hit like he did last summer, it’s scary to think what the Yankees offense is capable of. With no offense to either Austin Romine or Kyle Higashioka, Sanchez’s presence improves the team. Higgy was optioned to Triple A to make room for Sanchez. Now, we just need to get Gleyber Torres back.

ESPN’s Keith Law released his Mid-Season Top 50 Prospect Update yesterday and has Yankees LHP Justus Sheffield listed at #12.  I loved his last line about Top Sheff:  “He’s very close to major league-ready, however, has all the elements of a future No. 2 starter”.  I wouldn’t want to put the pressure of a pennant chase on Sheff as a starter for the Yankees this year plus he’ll be nearing an innings limit at some point, but you gotta love the thought of Sheffield pitching out of the pen, perhaps as soon as next month or September at the latest.  

Well, let’s begin Operation Beat Boston.  Yankees, welcome back.  We’ve missed you.  Let’s make this a victorious Friday.  Send Thor to the showers early, and bring us a win.  

Go Yankees!

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Good Hitting or Good Pitching? I’ll Take Both, Please…

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Photo Credit: Getty Images (Mike Stobe)

Yankees win again behind German…

The Yankees got off to a good start with their three-game series against the Seattle Mariners last night with a 7-2 win at Yankee Stadium.

Very nice pitching performance by young Domingo German. I wish Sonny Gray could take notes on how to pitch in the Bronx. The veteran could learn a thing or two from the rookie. German could have broken in the first inning when the Mariners had runners at the corners and no outs following a double and an error by Didi Gregorius. Sure, the M’s picked up a run on Mitch Haniger’s fielder’s choice to short but German shook it off and struck out Corey Seager’s brother Kyle to end the threat. From there, German shut down the Mariners, retiring 18 in a row, until Nelson Cruz did what he does best in the seventh inning, a dinger to left. You can’t really blame German for that one. Cruz does it to the best of ’em.

German’s final pitching line was something Sonny Gray can only dream about at Yankee Stadium. Seven very strong innings, two hits, two runs but only one earned, zero walks, and nine strikeouts.  German is pitching like he doesn’t want GM Brian Cashman to make any pitching acquisitions at the trading deadline. While I’d leave German in the rotation, I would still make a trade for a proven veteran starter. Nothing against Jonathan Loaisiga but I’d rather limit the rookies in the rotation for the stretch run to only one (German).

I liked the tag line used by Mike Axisa of River Ave Blues:  Dominant Domingo and the Dingers. It was a very good description of the game. I can’t wait for the movie.

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Photo Credit: NY Post (Charles Wenzelberg)

With German easing the Yankees’ desperation for starting pitching help, I hope it opens the possibility for a trade to acquire a shutdown arm for the bullpen. None better than San Diego’s LHP Brad Hand which would allow the Yankees to dump Chasen Shreve. I think it was Sweeny Murti who said the other day that he’d like for the Yankees to acquire the Padres closer for no other reason than to be able to say “Aloha, Mr Hand!”. Yes, that’s true. Good point. But Hand is also the most highly sought-after reliever now that former Kansas City Royals closer Kelvin Herrera resides in Washington, D.C. and he has drawn attention from many teams including the Boston Red Sox. I really would not want to see Hand go to Boston to help shore up their bullpen deficiencies. The move to acquire him by the Yankees would not be all about keeping him out Boston but rather give us a deadly bullpen that can shut down anyone, anytime, anywhere.

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Photo Credit: Getty Images (Denis Poroy)

If the Yankees make no moves for starting pitching, they should most certainly look to add additional bullpen pieces. I really don’t want to see Shreve as the top lefty come October. He’s too inconsistent for me and a few others on this site.

It was good to see the Yankees offense come to life last night. Marco Gonzales has pitched very well for the Mariners this year and he entered the game with a 7-3 record. I thought well enough of him to add him to my fantasy baseball team a few weeks ago. He killed my team last night with six runs allowed, including three home runs. But hey, it was worth it. I cut him after the game but there’s no way I can be disappointed with his dismal performance.

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Photo Credit: Associated Press (Seth Wenig)

The homers were really fun to watch. Giancarlo Stanton’s shot to center in the first inning to tie the game, Miguel Andujar’s two-run homer to left in the bottom of the fifth to give the Yankees their first lead, Aaron Hicks’ two-run blast to left in the fifth after Clint Frazier had singled to increase the Yankees’ lead to 5-1, and the eighth inning ‘tack-on’ homer to left by Gleyber Torres off former Yankees reliever Nick Rumbelow. If you saw only the homer and not the batter, you would have sworn that Gleyber’s shot was courtesy of Aaron Judge or Giancarlo Stanton. It was certainly worthy of the words “All Rise” or “a Stantonian blast” if it had been hit by #99 or #27 rather than #25. The ball traveled 446 feet, easily the longest hit of the night. After Torres hit his homer, I saw one Yankees tweet say only 38 more to go to the rookie record. Very funny even if impossible.  Still, I don’t think anyone in their wildest dreams could have forecasted 14 home runs, 35 RBI’s, and a slash line of .291/.346/.566 for Gleyber Torres on June 19th. The guy is such a joy to watch game after game. Sure, he’ll have to continue to make adjustments as pitchers adjust but he’s shown us enough to be confident he will.

Oh yeah, Aaron Judge had an RBI on single to left in the bottom of the seventh off Rumbelow with the run charged to Gonzales. A single. How pedestrian! Seriously, I love what Aaron Judge means to this team and how he is continually a difference-maker with both bat and glove.

I was hopeful that Gary Sanchez was breaking out of his slump but he was 0-for-4 with a strikeout, dropping his season batting average back down to .191.

It was a fun game. The Mariners are a very good club and this series could easily be a preview of October if the M’s continue to play well. They are currently 46-27 and sit just two games behind the World Champions in the AL West. I don’t expect the Yankees to sweep the series but I am hopeful they capture at least one of the next two games before hopping on a plane bound for Tampa, Florida.

The Boston Red Sox, despite having their ace, Chris Sale, on the mound, lost 6-2 to the Minnesota Twins at Target Field in Minneapolis, MN so the Yankees (48-22) increased their AL East lead to one game. Credit to the third-place Tampa Bay Rays, the Yankees’ next opponent. They used Blake Snell (a pitcher that I’d love to see Brian Cashman acquire) to beat the Astros and Justin Verlander, snapping Houston’s 12-game winning streak.

Congratulations to Brandon Drury for winning International League Player of the Week honors. The Major League player, who deserves better than Triple A, hit .471 with one home run and 11 RBI’s during the week of June 11th through 17th. He had 16 hits, 25 total bases, and 11 runs scored. In last night’s 7-5 loss by the Scranton/Wilkes-Barre RailRiders to the Lehigh Valley Iron Pigs (love that name!), Drury was 0-for-5 with a couple of strikeouts. It doesn’t deter me. I still want Drury back in Pinstripes where he belongs. With Ryan McBroom’s demotion to Double-A, I saw a quote by RailRiders manager Bobby Mitchell that the plan is to play Drury at first periodically. Operation Dump Neil Walker; Promote Brandon Drury is well underway. I liked Mitchell’s quote about Drury earlier this week: “He’s a big leaguer, you know? Just happens to be with us. He can play for a lot of teams, obviously, and even ours if they needed him.”

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Photo Credit: Todd Hiller

As for Chance Adams (the loser in the game), he is stepping dangerously into “Chance Adams Sucks!” Territory. Once considered the top pitching prospect in the organization, Adams gave up six runs in four innings (four earned) yesterday.  He walked four batters while striking out only one. Control continues to be his Achilles Heel. Suffice it to say that I don’t think we’ll be seeing Mr Adams (2-3, 5.21 ERA) in the Bronx anytime soon.

It’s Wednesday and an awesome day for Lasagna! It will be Old versus Young today as 32-year-old “King” Felix Hernandez takes on rookie 23-year-old Jonathan Loaisiga who was phenomenal in his debut appearance. When I looked up Hernandez, I was thinking he was older than he really is.  He seems to have aged prematurely and is certainly not the ace he once was. This season, he is 6-6 with 5.44 ERA and an unsightly 1.38 WHIP. For all the years the Yankees were linked to him in trade rumors, I am glad it was a trade never consummated.  Let’s get a win and take this series.

Go Yankees!

Solution: 15 K’s & Red Thunder…

Credit:  Al Bello-Getty Images

Yankees 5, Brewers 3…

Finally!  A fun and dramatic game.  Clint Frazier was the man of the hour with three hits.  The first hit broke up a no-hitter by Milwaukee starter Brent Suter in the fifth inning.  The second hit brought the Yankees within a run when the ball landed on top of the Stub Hub sign in left for a triple to score two runs.  The third hit was a game-winning walk-off home run to left as the Yankees overcame the Brewers on Saturday afternoon.

The first inning didn’t get started on the right foot.  After Eric Thames looped a double to right field, Travis Shaw was awarded first base in a controversial “hit by pitch”.  The umpire didn’t react until Shaw said something which caused the ump to send Shaw to first base, drawing the ire of Manager Joe Girardi.  Girardi could be overheard saying “He called it, you didn’t call it”.  The TV replays, to me, were inconclusive.  If the ball hit Shaw, it was fabric only but even then, the jersey didn’t move as the ball passed through to the catcher’s mitt.

Credit:  Julio Cortez-AP

Domingo Santana followed with a fly ball just over the right field wall which gave the Brewers an early 3-0 lead.

Credit:  Getty Images

For the Brewers, it would be the end of their offensive show for the day.  Luis Severino made the necessary adjustments (I hope you were watching, Michael Pineda!) and shut the Brewers down for the next six innings.  By the time he departed, he had pitched 7 innings, allowing 6 hits and the 3 runs allowed via the first inning home run.  He walked two, both in the 6th inning, while striking out 10.  It was a no-decision for him but the Yankees do not win this game without Severino’s performance.

Credit:  Julio Cortez-AP

The Yankees had a scoring opportunity in the 2nd inning when Didi Gregorius lofted a fly ball to center.  Four Brewers converged at the same time and the ball fell between them for an error on Brewers shortstop Orlando Arcia.  But the Yankees were subsequently caught with awful base-running. Chase Headley hit a come-backer to the pitcher and the Brewers had Didi caught between second and third.  Didi didn’t try to extend the rundown and the Brewers were able to tag Didi out and nail Headley off first base for the double play.  If Didi had tried to evade the tag, it would have given Headley the time to get back to first.

The Yankee bats were silent until the fifth inning when Clint Frazier finally collected the Yankees’ first hit off Brent Suter, a two-out single to right.  The Yankees weren’t able to do anything with it but it was a start.

After Luis Severino struck out Eric Thames with a runner in scoring position to end the top of the 7th, the Yankees finally got some runs on the board.  Chase Headley hit a one-out ground rule double to center.  Jacoby Ellsbury singled to move Headley to third.  A failed pick-off attempt at first allowed Headley to score while Ellsbury moved to third.  Clint Frazier hit a fly ball that momentarily looked to be a home run but it bounced off the lower part of the left field wall for a triple which scored Ellsbury.  The Yankees had closed the gap to 3-2.  Ji-Man Choi, pinch hitting for Austin Romine, and Ronald Torreyes were unable to bring Frazier home.

Onto the 8th inning and it was time for the Yankees bullpen which has been an Achilles Heel in recent days.  Dellin Betances took the mound in relief of Severino.  It was a ‘hold your breath’ moment until Betances proved to be the All-Star that he is, allowing everyone to exhale.  He induced Ryan Braun to ground out and then struck out both Travis Shaw and Domingo Santana.  Whew…Welcome back, Dellin!

Credit:  Corey Sipkin-New York Post

The Yankees were unable to generate any offense in the bottom of the 8th.  Moving to the top of the 9th, Aroldis Chapman replaced Betances.  Chapman has struggled with his command in recent games, but not yesterday. Three strikeouts later, it was off the bottom of the 9th with the Yankees still trailing by one run.  The Brewers brought in their strong closer, Corey Knebel, who has been a very pleasant surprise for the Brewers this year.  Knebel has struck out 72 batters in 41 innings while saving 13 games for Milwaukee.  He came into the game having only allowed 5 runs in 41 games.  The only knock against him is a tendency to walk too many batters. The weakness appeared right away as Didi Gregorius walked to open the inning on four straight balls.  Chase Headley went down swinging but Jacoby Ellsbury, like Didi, also walked on four straight balls as Knebel continued to struggle with his control.  So, the Yankees had runners at first and second with one-out when Red Thunder strolled to the plate.  After a ball in the dirt, Knebel grooved a 97 mph four-seam fastball down the middle.  With his blazing bat speed, Frazier quickly blasted a shot into the left field stands for the game-winning three-run home run as the Yankees won the game, 5-3.

Credit:  Brad Penner-USA TODAY Sports

Aroldis Chapman (2-0) was the winner.  The Yankees (45-40) were able to pick up a game on the Boston Red Sox so they are 3.5 games out in the AL East.  The Tampa Bay Rays remain a game behind the Yankees, courtesy of their 1-0 victory over the Red Sox.

Credit:  Julio Cortez-AP

The Yankees conclude the first half today when Masahiro Tanaka (7-7, 5.25 ERA) takes the mound against Milwaukee’s Jimmy Nelson (7-4, 3.20 ERA).  Hopefully, yesterday’s dramatic win and stellar bullpen work provide the momentum for a new surge by the home team.

Odds & Ends…

The rumor mill is certainly heating up.  Within the last 24 hours, it has been reported the Yankees have heavy interest in first baseman Justin Bour of the Miami Marlins and reliever Brad Hand of the San Diego Padres.  I am always a little suspect of the trade rumors you openly hear about as GM Brian Cashman generally plays his cards close to the vest.  The more likely trades are the ones that you never hear about in advance. I would love to have Hand in the bullpen but the issue is cost.  I’d hate to lose Chance Adams or Miguel Andujar (a couple of the names that have been mentioned). There would be a bit of irony with the Marlins (which includes Manager Don Mattingly) sending Bour to New York to be the Yankees first baseman.  Bour hit his 20th homer of the year yesterday in Miami’s 5-4 victory over the San Francisco Giants.  There’s no doubt he’d be an upgrade over Ji-Man Choi.

Credit:  Ben Margot-AP

The YES Network’s Michael Kay mentioned an interesting stat during the telecast.  Yesterday was the 17-year anniversary of the Yankees’ double-header sweep over the New York Mets which featured games at both home parks.  Dwight Gooden and Roger Clemens were the winning pitchers in the subway double-header.  It’s hard to believe that it has been 17 years as I can clearly remember that day well.  It was a preview of the memorable Fall Classic that would pit the two teams against each other.

Matt Holliday was 2-for-4, both singles, with two runs scored in his rehab assignment for the Scranton/Wilkes-Barre RailRiders.  The RailRiders won the game, 8-1, over the Lehigh Valley Iron Pigs.  Jake Cave was 3-for-3 with 2 HR’s and 5 RBI’s.  Miguel Andujar also chipped in a home run.

Have a great Sunday!  I am looking forward to more Red Thunder! But, please, no Tyler Clippard. Let’s Go Yankees!