|Credit: Kevin Hagen, for The Wall Street Journal|
The Dawn of a New Year…
The expiration date for 2017 is rapidly approaching. Soon, we’ll flip the calendar to 2018 and await the arrival of the latest Bronx Bombers in Yankee Stadium.
As expected, the end of the year has been very quiet for the Yankees after their acquisition of slugger Giancarlo Stanton earlier this month. Gerrit Cole is still in Pittsburgh and Yu Darvish remains on his free agent tour.
In the words of both Yankees GM Brian Cashman and President Randy Levine, there is still work to be done. At this point, we’ll see what January brings. Honestly, I am tired of the Gerrit Cole rumors and wish the Yankees would end the speculation by saying there will be no deal. Same for the Darvish rumors. The Yankees are not going to sign him. I feel badly for guys like Clint Frazier who continue to twist in the wind wondering what the new year will bring for them and where they should report for Spring Training…Tampa, Florida or about 45 miles south via I-275 to Bradenton or some unknown destination.
With no deal in place for free agent slugger J.D. Martinez, the Boston Red Sox are starting to show up in rumors for a possible trade with the Baltimore Orioles to acquire Manny Machado. While you’d think the same intra-division challenge would face the Red Sox as it does the Yankees, Orioles GM Dan Duquette is a former Red Sox general manager and he used to work with current Red Sox President Dave Dombrowski years ago in the Montreal Expos organization. I’d really hate to see Machado go to Boston. Of course, the rumors could be Red Sox-originated to apply pressure on Martinez who appears to have limited options in the stagnant free agent market.
One year after signing the most lucrative contract in history for a MLB reliever, Aroldis Chapman’s annual salary has been eclipsed by former Chicago Cubs closer Wade Davis. While the contract signed by Davis with the Colorado Rockies is only for three years, the average annual salary is $17.33 million whereas Chapman only makes a paltry $17.2 million. Chapman still holds the mark for most total contract compensation but it’s crazy how much relievers have been getting this off-season. The Rockies are using the Yankees formula of building a super bullpen (they previously signed Cleveland Indians reliever Bryan Shaw and re-signed their own Jake McGee to join holdovers Adam Ottovino, Chris Rusin and Mike Dunn). If unsuccessful, they should be able to trade relievers for a stable of quality prospects.
For the San Diego Padres, what’s old is new again. After re-acquiring their former third baseman, Chase Headley, they’ve re-signed two former starting pitchers, Tyson Ross and Chris Young. Maybe free agents Andrew Cashner, Alexi Amarista, and Cameron Maybin should check in with Padres GM A.J. Preller.
Congratulations to Yankees GM Brian Cashman for being named as Baseball America’s 2017 MLB Executive of the Year!
|Credit: Reinhold Matay, NY Post|
I felt bad for Yankees manager Aaron Boone yesterday. His beloved USC Trojans lost the Cotton Bowl to the Ohio State Buckeyes, 24-7, in Dallas, Texas. As an Iowa Hawkeyes fan, I have no love for the Buckeyes so I was disappointed to see Boonie’s team lose. Hopefully, 2018 will be much more victorious for Boone’s “favorite” teams.
Jon Heyman of Fan Rag Sports Network reported yesterday that Giancarlo Stanton’s decision to join the Yankees will cost him an additional $29 million in taxes on the balance due for his contract if he decides to live in one of the five boroughs of New York. That’s a huge financial commitment on Stanton’s part to join the young and hungry Yankees. He can lessen his tax burden by living in New Jersey, but c’mon, if you are 28 and single, you gotta live in the City!
I am not a New Year’s Resolution kind of guy so I’ll leave it to others. Pete Caldera, staff writer for NorthJersey.com, has offered his 2018 New Year’s resolutions for the Yankees. It is worth checking out. I think he nailed it.
Not that I want to promote other sites, but Bronx Pinstripes ran a great story on Justus Sheffield and his path to Pinstripes yesterday that’s worth the time to read. I was already excited about Sheffield’s potential and this only fires me up more. I love Cody Carroll’s quote that Sheffield is “like a closer that starts”. Some guys have great stuff and some guys are just winners. Sheffield is a combination of both. Excellent work by BP’s Dom Muccilo.
I don’t know about you, but I am very anxious to see Tampa’s Steinbrenner Field humming. Baseball can’t get back soon enough. Happy New Year to Everyone! It’s going to be a fantastic year for the Yankees and their fans…
Angels 10, Yankees 5…
The win on Wednesday was just a tease. Losing teams find ways to lose and unfortunately the Yankees gave another game away last night. Unless they can turn this around, the Yankees are showing that the early season was just a mirage. You can’t blame Aaron Judge. He’s trying. He hit his 25th home run of the season and has hit safely in 24 consecutive games (the longest Yankee streak of the year). But pitching, which has alternated between very good and very bad, is sitting in the latter category at the moment albeit with an occasional solid performance like Jordan Montgomery the other night.
Bronx Pinstripes had a great tweet last night. “What a disaster. At least we have Tanaka tomorrow. …Oh wait.” My line of thinking exactly…
The game started well enough. Despite Cameron Maybin’s lead-off home run to give the Angels an early 1-0 lead, the Yankees quickly answered in the bottom of the first when Angels starter Jesse Chavez walked Aaron Judge and Matt Holliday with two outs. Starlin Castro followed with a run-scoring single to tie the game.
In the bottom of the 2nd inning, it looked like this was going to be our night. Chris Carter doubled and Ronald Torreyes reached base on an infield hit, pushing Carter to third. Brett Gardner grounded into a force-out at second but Carter scored on the play. Aaron Hicks singled, putting runners at the corner, bringing up Aaron Judge. With a three-run shot to center, the Yankees were up, 5-1. I didn’t really expect those to be the final runs scored by the Yankees.
Credit: Kathy Willens-AP
The Angels started chipping away in the third when both Albert Pujols and Yunel Escobar had run-scoring singles with two outs. 5-3, Yankees. Luis Severino settled down after that for a few innings of solid work, but gave up another run in the 6th when Escobar opened the inning with a double and scored on a single by Luis Valbuena. Valbuena, a third baseman, is a guy I thought the Yankees should have pursued in the off-season when he was a free agent.
Still, I had hope that the Yankees could lock down the Angels, score a couple of insurance runs and win the game. Then, the 7th inning happened. Cliff Pennington opened the inning with a single. From there, the game unraveled. Cameron Maybin hit a ground ball to Starlin Castro that should have been turned for a double play but Castro’s fielding error allowed Maybin to reach base, with Pennington moving to third. So, instead of two outs and no one on, the Angels had runners at the corners with no outs. End of game for Luis Severino. Chasen Shreve entered the game and was greeted by a sac fly from Kole Calhoun which tied the score at 5. Exit Shreve, enter Dellin Betances. Maybin stole second and advanced to third on a throwing error by Gary Sanchez. Albert Pujols said ‘I’ll take your gifts…thank you very much’ and lined a single to right, scoring Maybin for the lead. Betances walked Escobar, followed by a wild pitch moving the runners to second and third. With two outs, Andrelton Simmons doubled to give the Angels two more runs, 8-5.
Credit: Kathy Willens-AP
I was not ready to admit defeat and was pulling for an amazing comeback like the Yankees did earlier in the season against the Baltimore Orioles. Yeah, right. The Yankees went down 1-2-3 in the bottom of the 7th and the Angels were ready for more in the 8th. Domingo German took the mound, replacing Betances, and retired the first batter on a strikeout. Unfortunately, this was followed by Cliff Pennington’s double and a wild pitch that moved him to third. Cameron Maybin walked. A failed pick-off attempt at first by German, the third Yankees error of the game, allowed Pennington to score with Maybin moving to third. Kole Calhoun graciously accepted the latest gift, and hit a sac fly to push the score to 10-5.
The Yankees could only muster a single from Chris Carter in the 9th, and he was left stranded at second when Ronald Torreyes grounded out.
This was a very disappointing loss. I am not sure how you can lose two of three in your home park against the Mike Trout-less Angels. Giving away free runs on multiple errors and wild pitches are not the signs of a successful team. With the loss, the Yankees (39-31) fell back into a first-place tie with the idle Boston Red Sox. The Tampa Bay Rays, who also had the night off, moved to within 2 1/2 games of the leaders.
Yes, I am mad about this loss. And it scares the hell out of me that we’ll be throwing Tanaka out tonight against Yu Darvish. It doesn’t get any easier…
Texas Rangers at Yankee Stadium…
The Texas Rangers make their first trip to NYC for a three-game series starting tonight. Pete Kozma, who started the year with the Yankees when Didi Gregorius was on the DL, is currently a back-up infielder for the Rangers. Ernesto Frieri, who previously opted out of his Yankees minor league contract, is in the Texas bullpen.
Rangers: Yu Darvish (6-5, 3.35 ERA)
Yankees: Masahiro Tanaka (5-7, 6.34 ERA)
Rangers: Austin Bibens-Dirkx (2-0, 4.25 ERA)
Yankees: Luis Cessa (0-1, 7.36 ERA)
Rangers: Nick Martinez (2-3, 4.33 ERA)
Yankees: Michael Pineda (7-3, 3.56 ERA)
Y’all enjoy the games now, y’hear!
Hopefully, we’ll see the team that throttled the Boston Red Sox and the Baltimore Orioles a couple of weeks ago. I miss that team…
Odds & Ends…
Prior to yesterday’s game, the Yankees purchased the contract of left-handed reliever Tyler Webb from Scranton/Wilkes-Barre. I am very excited to see Tyler finally make it to the Show. I’ve been following his career for a few years and I’ve liked the pitcher. I was worried in the off-season when he was selected in the Rule 5 Draft by the Pittsburgh Pirates. As a mature lefty reliever (he’ll turn 27 in less than a month), I thought he had the potential to stick with the Pirates. Despite a solid Spring performance, he was returned to the Yankees in a numbers game (fortunately for us). In 21 games for SWB, Webb is 3-1 with 3.24 ERA and 1.08 WHIP. He has struck out 47 batters in 33 1/3 innings while allowing 33 hits and 12 runs. He has only given up 3 walks and home runs. They may not be elite numbers but I feel Webb has earned his shot. I am glad that he is here even if it’s only temporary. Rob Refsnyder was sent to SWB to make room for Webb.
Credit: Chris O’Meara-AP
Greg Bird has been given a cortisone shot in his ankle and the hope is that he’ll soon be able to resume his rehab. I find it highly unlikely that this will be the solution that gets Bird back on the field. It seems to me that the problem with the ankle is more serious than we’ve been led to believe. The cortisone shot just masks the pain, it doesn’t fix the problem. There is daily speculation who the Yankees should look at on the trade market. Lately, Yonder Alonso has been receiving the most attention. I like Alonso and do feel that he’d be an upgrade over Chris Carter or Tyler Austin. I have no problems with Matt Holliday at first other than I want to keep the guy healthy. DH is the better avenue to accomplish that goal. The Atlanta Braves did a wonderful job in trading for the under-utilized Matt Adams, previously of the St Louis Cardinals. Adams has done nothing but hit since he became a Brave and has sparked speculation that injured first baseman Freddie Freeman may be moved to third when he returns. I want GM Brian Cashman to make one of those under-the-radar but highly productive moves. I know, easier said than done.
I think Aaron Judge should accept the invitation to participate in this year’s Home Run Derby. I know that some players mess up their swings but like Manager Joe Girardi, I don’t think it would adversely impact Judge’s swing. I like the idea of his exposure to the other great sluggers of the game. It’s all part of his maturation as a Major League superstar. The Yankees have renewed popularity this year because of guys like Judge and Gary Sanchez. The All-Star Game is a great format to represent the pride and tradition of the Yankees.
This is not baseball related but as an owner of a black cat, I found this one quite humorous…and true!
Have a great Friday! Let’s not start a new losing streak today, please.