Tagged: Bryce Harper

Is the awful Tanaka the new Tanaka?…

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

Orioles 10, Yankees 4…

Disappointing, to say the least…

Masahiro Tanaka, proving that his last start was just a facade, got hammered again as the Orioles cruised to victory.  In 5 2/3 painful innings, Tanaka (5-5) was pounded for nine hits and seven runs.  The latest implosion pushed his ERA up to 6.34 for the season.  

The Yankees had their opportunities to get back into the game but couldn’t deliver.  The Yankees bullpen, most notably Giovanny Gallegos who had been called up earlier in the day to replace Bryan Mitchell, let the Orioles break the game open.  Gallegos allowed a two-run homer to Chris Davis in the seventh inning and three runs overall in his 1 2/3 innings.

For the Orioles, Adam Jones was the offensive force of the night.  After missing multiple games due to a sore ankle and hip, Jones was back in the lineup on Wednesday night.  Apparently he felt that he had to make up for lost time as he was 3-for-5 with 5 RBI’s.  His crushing hit was a three-run homer off Tanaka in the fourth inning.  

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

To the Yankees credit, they completely shut down Manny Machado in the series.  He was 0-for-5 and struck out twice.  In the three games played, Machado was hitless in 15 at-bats which dropped his batting average to .205.  It’s unfortunate that the Yankees couldn’t hold the other Orioles sluggers in check as they lost the three game series, two games to one.  

I guess on the bright side, the Yankees had no need to use their top bullpen arms so Dellin Betances, Tyler Clippard and Adam Warren will be fresh for the latest series in Toronto.  

Every Yankees starter got at least one hit except for Chase Headley, who was hitless in three at-bats with two strikeouts although he did walk twice.  Rob Refsnyder, manning first base for the second game in a row, picked up two hits in his four plate appearances.  The hits were Refsnyder’s first of the season.   

It is very hard to find any positives with this game.  I am not sure what can be done to fix Tanaka.  It’s up to him to make the necessary adjustments but for whatever reason, his adjustments so far have been futile.  

Things do not get any easier for the Yankees as they now travel to Toronto to face a suddenly red-hot Blue Jays squad (8-2 in their last ten games).  

The Yankees (30-20) lost ground in the AL East as the Boston Red Sox pulled within two games with their 4-1 victory over the Chicago White Sox.  The Orioles moved up to 3 1/2 games behind the Yankees.  Last-placed Toronto is only 5 1/2 games back so they have an opportunity to make some noise over the next few days.  

Yankees in the News…

Future Yankees outfielder Bryce Harper (hey, if everyone else can talk about it, so can I!) received good news on Wednesday.  His four-game suspension for this week’s fight with Hunter Strickland and the San Francisco Giants has been reduced to three games.  The suspension should not impact Harper’s availability to open the 2019 season for the Yankees.  

Greg Bird is getting ready to fly.  After playing in three simulated innings on Wednesday, he’ll begin a rehab assignment with High-A Tampa today.  I am really hoping to see the bat that wore out pitchers in Spring Training and not the Mark Teixeira Annual April-Ice-Cold bat we saw after his ankle injury.  

Tyler Austin didn’t do much for the Scranton/Wilkes-Barre RailRiders yesterday in their 4-3 victory over the Columbus Clippers in the second game of a doubleheader.  He was penciled in at DH (did not play in the first game).  He went hitless in four at-bats, striking out three times, in his best impersonation of Chris Carter.  I guess to be Chris Carter and take his job, you have to become Chris Carter.  Still, Austin is a better first baseman than either Carter or Rob Refsnyder.  So, once that bat starts humming, it will be Bronx-bound.  

As for the first game of the RailRiders doubleheader, WHOA!  Chance Adams was spectacular.  He threw a one-hitter over six scoreless innings of work.  He struck out twelve batters while walking only two.  He is now 3-1 at the AAA Level with a 1.57 ERA.  The RailRiders won the game, 6-0.  Adams has the accelerator mashed to the floor in his drive for the Bronx.  At some point, somebody is going to have to make room in the rotation.  

Credit:  MiLB.com

Reliever Ernesto Frieri, currently at AAA-Scranton/Wilkes-Barre, has an opt-out clause in his contract that can be exercised today.  Let him go.  I see no compelling reasons to create room on the 40-man roster for Frieri.  He has been the RailRiders’ closer, picking up his seventh save in yesterday’s second game of the double-header.  He was touched for two runs in the bottom of the seventh as the Clippers tried an unsuccessful rally against the RailRiders.  He walked a batter in his one inning of work and one of the two hits he allowed was a homer.  Frieri hasn’t been relevant in years and he is not going to be relevant in 2017.  Pass.

Life North of the Border…

The Yankees begin a four-game series against the Toronto Blue Jays this evening.  Here are the scheduled pitching match-ups:

TODAY

Yankees:  CC Sabathia (5-2, 4.42 ERA)

Blue Jays:  Marco Estrada (4-2, 3.15 ERA)

FRIDAY

Yankees:  Michael Pineda (6-2, 3.32 ERA)

Blue Jays:  Francisco Liriano (2-2, 6.35 ERA)

SATURDAY

Yankees:  Jordan Montgomery (2-4, 4.11 ERA)

Blue Jays:  Joe Biagini (1-3, 3.64 ERA)

SUNDAY

Yankees:  Luis Severino (4-2, 2.93 ERA)

Blue Jays:  Marcus Stroman (6-2, 3.28 ERA)

This puts Masahiro Tanaka on track to open the three-game series against the Boston Red Sox next Tuesday at Yankee Stadium.  Things do not get any easier…

Have a great Thursday!  Difficult roads often lead to beautiful destinations.  Don’t quit.                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        

Putting Crooked Numbers on the Board…

Credit:  Patrick Smith/Getty Images

Yankees 8, Orioles 3…

For a moment there, I thought the Yankees were playing a game of Home Run Derby between Brett Gardner and Matt Holliday.  By the fourth inning, both players had two home runs.  After chasing Orioles starter Chris Tillman and roughing up reliever Logan Verrett, the Yankees offense was finished for the night but like the 70’s show, Eight is Enough.  

For both Gardner and Holliday, it was their tenth and eleventh home runs of the season.    After the game, Gardner said, “Offensively we got off to such a great start early in the season, the last week or two we slowed down a bit collectively. It’s nice to put some runs back up, put some crooked numbers on the board and give Sevvy a lead he’s comfortable with.” The Yankees were able to put up crooked numbers in three of those first four innings as they cruised to the victory.

The maturation of Luis Severino continues.  I thought he did an excellent job escaping the bases loaded jam in the second inning when he struck out JJ Hardy with Gary Sanchez completing the out by throwing to first.  Severino (4-2) lasted 6 1/3 innings, limiting the O’s to only one run on seven hits.  He walked a batter and struck out eight.  

Credit:  Ron Sachs/CNP

Aaron Judge didn’t join the Home Run Derby but his bat was just as lethal.  He had a two-run double in the fourth to cap the Yankees’ scoring and was 2-for-4 on the day, raising his season batting average to .323.

Rob Refsnyer got the start at first base.  He was 0-for-3, but had a nice defensive play in the bottom of the third with a diving stop and quick run to first base to erase Seth Smith.  Refsnyder, lifted for Chris Carter in the bottom of the seventh inning, was the only Yankees starter without a hit.

The Yankees bullpen did a great job except for a sloppy eighth inning when Bryan Mitchell  committed a throwing error and subsequently allowed two runs.  Tyler Clippard, overcoming his recent woes, cleanly got the final four outs.  He struck out the dangerous Mark Trumbo to finish the game.

Credit Yankees pitching for the great job they’ve done with the O’s great Manny Machado.  Machado was hitless in five at-bats with four strikeouts.  In the first two games of the series, he is 0-for-9 with six strikeouts.

The Yankees did receive a scare in the ninth when Didi Gregorius was hit on the hand with a pitch from former Yankees pitcher Richard Bleier, but he was able to shake it off and continue playing.  X-rays after the game revealed no fractures.  Whew!

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

The Boston Red Sox hammered the Chicago White Sox, 13-7, behind former White Sock Chris Sale (who received a standing ovation from the crowd prior to the game).  So, the Yankees  (30-19) maintained their three game lead over the Sox in the AL East.  Baltimore fell 4 1/2 games back.

The series concludes this evening with Masahiro Tanaka seeking to continue his rebound from an earlier slump.  Greg Bird’s Grandview High School (Aurora, CO) teammate, Kevin Gausman, will oppose Tanaka.  

Yankees in the News…

Okay, we may have to fast-forward to 2019 for this one…future Yankees outfielder Bryce Harper has been suspended for four games.  After he was plunked on Monday by Hunter Strickland of the San Francisco Giants, Harper “charged the mound, threw his helmet, and fought”.  Strickland was suspended for six games.  Both players have appealed.  The penalty is harsher for Harper as an every day player.  We’ll have to wait and see if Gerrit Cole plunks a Giant in defense of his future Yankees teammate when San Francisco visits Pittsburgh at the end of June…

Credit:  Ben Margot/Associated Press

Wanted:  Billionaire.  Yankees Legend Derek Jeter is searching for a new investment group after Jeb Bush dropped out of the bidding for the Miami Marlins.  It will be interesting to see if Jeter joins up with the group headed by Tagg Romney, which also includes Tom Glavine and Dave Stewart.  Jeter remains part of the Bush-less group so time will tell if they have the financial resources to top the Romney group.  If not, it’s potentially the old ‘if you can’t beat ‘em, join ‘em’ situation.  

Jacoby Ellsbury is feeling better (finally) and has been cleared to fly to Toronto with the team on Wednesday.  He is eligible to come off the DL on Thursday but there’s still no timetable when he’ll be ready.  He could be activated this weekend.  Given that I am completely comfortable with Aaron Hicks in center, I really wouldn’t mind if Ellsbury wanted to take another week off.  

Tyler Austin was the starting DH last night for the Scranton/Wilkes-Barre RailRiders in a 5-0 loss to the Columbus Clippers.  He had two hits in four at-bats with a single and a double.  

Considering Austin’s multi-position eligibility and much cheaper price tag, it will be interesting to see what the Yankees do with Chris Carter when Greg Bird returns to health.  Carter hasn’t hit enough to warrant future consideration in my mind.  He is a below average hitter and fielder so if he’s not hitting home runs like a Guardians of the Galaxy movie, he’s not worth the roster space.  Maybe Austin should start taking some reps at third to expand his resume.  Seriously, I think there’s more value with Austin than Carter.  So, to Carter, I’d say SEE YA!

After taking a rest day yesterday, Aroldis Chapman will throw again today.  Hopefully, all continues to go well for Chapman as he eyes a mid-June return.  

Have a great Wednesday!  Here’s hoping the Yankees take the series tonight before embarking on their flight to Toronto.  Safe travels to the team and of course, Go Yankees!

Bryce Harper’s a great player BUT…

How much are these stats worth?

13 Home Runs

36 RBI’s

.355 Batting Average

.468 OBP

.702 SLG

1.170 OPS

New speculation is placing the value of Bryce Harper’s next contract closer to $500 million than the previously thought $400 million.  With an argument that Harper is twice the player Giancarlo Stanton is, is he worth twice the contract (or $650 million)?  Harper is going to bring new meaning the term “franchise player”.  How much did George Steinbrenner pay for the Yankees back in 1973?  It’s a rhetorical question but the answer is $10 million (with 60% in borrowed funds).  Granted, the Yankees are now worth more than $3.7 billion but it’s still phenomenal to think how much money Harper is going to get.  

At face value and with a strong right-fielder already in place, I have to say that despite Harper’s greatness, Manny Machado is looking better and better every day.  As luck would have it, we happen to need a third baseman.  I am just not so sure about the one more year of Chase Headley part…

Credit:  Patrick Smith/Getty Images

As a Yankees fan, I am not a supporter of the Toronto Blue Jays but their players continue to provide more reasons to dislike them.  The bat flip by Joey Bats after a home run against the Atlanta Braves on Wednesday was ridiculous.  I had no problem with Braves catcher Tyler Flowers pointing at Bautista with an inside-fastball sign on a pitch selection the next night.  Braves pitcher Julio Teheran promptly drilled one into Bautista’s thigh.  But the homophobic comments that Blue Jays outfielder Kevin Pillar directed at Braves reliever Jason Motte were totally unacceptable.  The anti-gay slur resulted in a two-game suspension for Pillar.  I hope the Atlanta Braves fans realize that the Blue Jays are not representative of all AL East teams.  

Tyler Austin has joined High-A Tampa to begin his rehab assignment.  The Yankees will have some decisions to make when he finishes the rehab assignment.  With Greg Bird ready to begin his rehab assignment next week, it increases the likelihood that Austin heads to Scranton/Wilkes-Barre.  But the RailRiders have a good recent addition at first already.  Mike Ford, called up last week from AA-Trenton, has three homers in six games and eight RBI’s.  He is 8-for-26 (.308).  The RailRiders are also loaded in the outfield with Clint Frazier, Dustin Fowler, Mason Williams, and Mark Payton.  If it were up to me, I’d think hard about moving/cutting Chris Carter and slotting Austin in as backup first baseman/outfielder. 


Roy White Day.  


Alright, I’ll join the bandwagon.  My awareness of White was more acute during his age 30+ seasons, but he was a trusted, reliable and a bit under-appreciated member of the Yankees and those back-to-back World Championships in the late 70’s.  For a team that was overflowing with superstars, White simply did his job when called on.  With no disrespect to Joe Torre who retired #6, I still think of White when I see the number.  Not many players stay with one team their entire career, but White was one of them with fifteen years in Pinstripes.  The other outfielders, Reggie Jackson and Mickey “Mick the Quick” Rivers, were more flamboyant but White always seemed to come up big whenever you needed him.  I agree, he gave his baseball life to the Yankees and it is only right that they give Roy his day at Yankee Stadium.



The Yankees have a new manager!  

Credit:  Brendan Kuty/NJ Advance Media

Okay, it was just one game.  Bench coach Rob Thomson was manager of the New York Yankees on Friday night so that Joe Girardi, could attend his daughter’s high school graduation.  Congrats to Joe Girardi for showing (and the Steinbrenner Family for allowing) that family does truly matter.

Credit:  YES Network

A lost night in St. Petersburg…

Rob Thomson, you’re fired (just kidding…well, maybe a little serious).  One-game manager Rob Thomson, filling in for Joe Girardi, failed in his one attempt to steer the ship.  Back to the bench for you, Rob.  The Yankees were undone by a pitcher who couldn’t make it more than five innings, thereby placing a heavier burden on the bullpen, a bad defensive play at third, and Thomson’s decision to leave his best hitters on the bench in a three-up, three-down ninth inning that led to the 5-4 loss to the Tampa Bay Rays. 

Luis Severino only gave up one run, a first inning double by Logan Morrison that scored Evan Longoria, and struck out seven Rays.  But he gave up five hits and three walks with 89 pitches (only 59 for strikes) and was gone by the sixth inning.  

After the Rays had tied the game in the bottom of the seventh inning at 2-2 with runners at second and third and two outs, the Yankees could have avoided further damage.  With third baseman Ronald Torreyes thinking about the runner advancing to home plate, a hopper by Rickie Weeks Jr went under his glove into left field, scoring the two runners on base.  Weeks Jr was credited with a double in a very liberal decision as it probably should have been an error by Toe.

Matt Holliday did his part in trying to bring the Yankees back.  After a walk to Brett Gardner and a pop-out by Jacoby Ellsbury to open the eighth, Holliday homered to right to tie the game at 4.  The Rays came right back in the bottom of the inning when Tyler Clippard (0-2) gave up a run-scoring single by Evan Longoria after putting two men on base through walks.  Longoria has gotten off to a slow start this season but against the Yankees, he always looks All-World.  A 4-for-5 night, with two runs scored and the RBI, ensured the Yankees were playing from behind.  

Credit:  Kim Klement/USA TODAY Sports

Still, the Yankees could have rallied again in the ninth inning, but Thomson kept both Gary Sanchez and Aaron Hicks on the bench so we’ll never know.  Sanchez and Hicks, both of whom had the night off, could only watch as Chris Carter struck out (surprise, surprise) and Austin Romine grounded out to end the game. 

The loss dropped the Yankees to 24-15.  With Baltimore’s 5-3 win over the Toronto Blue Jays in extra innings, the O’s closed the gap in the AL East to just a half-game again.  The Boston Red Sox lost so I guess the evening wasn’t a complete disappointment.

Welcome back, Joe Girardi.  I will be glad to have you back in the saddle for today’s game.  I hope the graduation ceremony was a tremendous success for Serena and the family, but it will be great to have you making the lineup decisions today.  

Have a great Saturday!  Let’s win the games we should win and not give them away.

A Memorable Day and Night at Yankee Stadium…

Happy Mother’s Day!  With no offense to Derek Jeter, that’s still the primary special occasion today.  So I hope it’s a wonderful Mother’s Day for all mothers in the Yankees Universe.  This is your day!  None of us would be here getting ready to celebrate Derek Jeter Night if not for you.

Congrats to Derek Jeter as he gets ready to leave a permanent reminder of his notable Yankee achievements in Monument Park.  Unless someone eventually takes number “0”, it’s the final single-digit number to be retired.  

As the number 2 begins to make its way to the Monument Park Wall, it’s hard not to remember when it was worn by the late Bobby Murcer.  Murcer wore the number when he was reacquired from the Chicago Cubs in 1979 until his release in 1983.  Bobby was a great Yankee.  I don’t really remember much of his first tour with the Yankees, but growing up in the Midwest, Murcer was constantly on TV with the Cubs.  I knew his history with the Yankees and he was a welcome addition to the 1979 Yankees which would soon be marred by one of the team’s greatest tragedies (the death of catcher Thurman Munson).  As a close friend of Munson, Murcer’s actions and words in the days following the tragic plane crash in Akron, Ohio were huge.  It was easy to see how much Murcer loved Munson and the Yankees.  We were later privileged to have Murcer as a Yankees broadcaster until his passing.

Of course, #2 recognition also has to be given to Mark Koenig who was the first Yankee to wear the number in 1929 courtesy of his spot in the lineup.  Koenig, the team’s shortstop, was part of the famed 1927 Murderer’s Row, when he batted second in front of Babe Ruth, Lou Gehrig, Bob Meusel and Tony Lazzeri.

Yankees third baseman Red Rolfe wore the number from 1931 until his retirement after the 1942 season.  

The only person to wear #2 for more years than Jeter was Frankie Crosetti.  Also a shortstop, Crosetti spent his entire 17-year playing career as a member of the Yankees.  He started wearing #2 in the final years of his playing career in 1945 and continued throughout his 20-year coaching career with the team which ended in 1968.

While Number 2 is being retired for Jeter, the number will forever carry the significant contributions of those who wore the number before the kid from Kalamazoo.  

The first game of today’s double-header begins at 2:05 pm Eastern.  The Derek Jeter Night pre-game ceremony scheduled between games will start no earlier than 6:30 pm ET.  The second game of the doubleheader will begin following the pregame ceremony but no earlier than 7:30 pm ET.  Many former teammates will be in attendance including David Cone, Tino Martinez, Hideki Matsui, Paul O’Neill, Andy Pettitte, Jorge Posada, Mariano Rivera, Gerald Williams, and Bernie Williams.  Former Yankee greats Reggie Jackson and Willie Randolph will also be there, along with Dick Groch, an area scout who signed Jeter, former Yankees head athletic trainer Gene Monahan, and Jean “Soot” Zimmer, widow of former Yankees coach Don Zimmer.  

Derek Jeter, this is your day…your night.  Enjoy!

The New York Post’s Steve Serby had a Q&A with Aaron Hicks this morning.  When asked what is the biggest criticism he’s heard that bothers him the most, he responded:  “I don’t want to be considered…I want to be a starter.  I don’t want to be a fourth outfielder.  That’s kind of something that I don’t like.  I’m better than a fourth outfielder.”  I agree 100%.  Sadly it is time for GM Brian Cashman to create the room in the outfield for Hicks to start.  Without question, I would love for the Yankees to move Jacoby Ellsbury, but that’s not happening.  So, it is back to Brett Gardner as the most marketable outfield asset for a trade.  Gardner’s recent homer binge hopefully raised his perceived value.  

Bryce Harper and the Washington Nationals agreed to a one-year $21.65 million contract for the 2018 season.  It includes a $1 million incentive if he win’s the MVP Award. The contract buys out Harper’s final year of arbitration eligibility and he maintains eligibility to become a free agent following the 2018 season.  He’s making $13.625 million this year.  To celebrate his new contract, he hit a walk-off two-run homer to beat the Philadelphia Phillies on Saturday.  I am anxious to see what he does when he signs that 10-year $400 million deal with the Yankees in a couple of years.  Hal, it’s just money…

It’s not really Yankees news but Arizona Diamondbacks catcher Chris Iannetta took a fastball to the face in Friday’s action.  The pitch fractured some teeth and Iannetta’s nose, but the catcher is doing okay and hoping to avoid a DL stint.  The pitch was thrown by former Yankees prospect Johnny Barbato, who was traded to the Pittsburgh Pirates earlier this year.  All the best to Iannetta with his recovery.  It could have been much worse and I am thankful it was not.  

Credit:  Mark J Rebilas/USA TODAY Sports

Have a great Mother’s Day and Derek Jeter Night!  Let’s take two! 

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!  

A Preview of Coming Attractions?…

The Bryce is Right…

With Bryce Harper’s free agency still a few seasons away, I am surprised that there is so much discussion about his future (potentially) in pinstripes.  So much can happen between now and 2019.

harper-monument-park

While the Yankees do not have a true superstar at any position except maybe Closer, there’s a wealth of outfield prospects.  Aaron Judge has a history of first failing and then massively succeeding at each level.  With the initial underwhelming big league performance behind him, the expectation is that he’ll grab right field for years to come.  There’s other help on the way for the outfield.  With so many talented infield prospects headlined by shortstop (second baseman?) Gleyber Torres, it has been mentioned that shortstop Jorge Mateo’s future is in centerfield.  Clint Frazier, a centerfielder, will most likely be moved to a corner outfield position.  If each player performs to his respective potential, a trio of Judge, Mateo, and Frazier is very, very solid.

The Yankees also have other young talented outfield prospects.  Mason Williams, although injuries have not been his friend.  Dustin Fowler is aggressively raising his stock in prospect rankings.  Blake Rutherford was a steal in last year’s draft and seems destined for greatness.  Billy McKinney is an over-looked, unappreciated talent but he’s opened some eyes this spring.

At face value, Outfield does not appear that it will be a weakness for the team anytime soon.  Well, maybe as long as Jacoby Ellsbury is starting in center, but that’s another matter.

Over the last few years, Owner Hal Steinbrenner has evolved the organization from its free-spending ways to financial conservatism.  Although the Yankees consistently have one of the highest payrolls in baseball, the payroll has stayed fairly level for a number of years.  There’s a genuine opportunity for the Yankees to get under the luxury tax threshold next year.  Signing Harper is going to cost a lot of money.  Giancarlo Stanton may currently hold baseball’s most lucrative contract, but Harper will surpass Stanton and not by a close margin.  Harper could legitimately be baseball’s first $500 million man.  More than likely, it will be around $400 million but still, that’s a huge financial commitment for anyone.

Attendance has declined at Yankee Stadium the past few years.  With no true superstars in an every day role, the Yankees need players who can not only perform on the field, but can draw fans to the Bronx.  Gary Sanchez and Aaron Judge may soon have that dual ability, if the former does not already have it.  But signing Bryce Harper, a childhood Yankees fan, would be huge for attendance.  His lefty bat, among a sea of righties, would be huge.  He’ll only be 26 when he hits free agency so a lengthy obligation would not look as ugly at the end as it did for Alex Rodriguez.

I am a proponent for the Yankees to sign Harper.  At some point, the Yankees will have to make a trade for a frontline starting pitcher (or two) and they’ll need to use talented top prospects to make it happen.  They can deal from outfield (and infield) strength and bring the necessary help for the rotation.  With Masahiro Tanaka’s looming opt-out after the season, the Yankees will need to make trades to supplement the infusion of youth if they are to achieve the championship dreams in a couple of years.

Harper in pinstripes would put the team closer to Championship #28 while boosting gate attendance to help subsidize his enormous contract.

The starting rotation competition…

As the battle for the fourth and fifth spots in the rotation continue, there are some early favorites.  I think it’s a given that Luis Severino will take the fourth spot.  The team wants him to succeed as a starter.  Last year was a disappointment as Severino arrived at training camp in bulked up physical condition and was not able to effectively throw his change up with the same velocity.  He has worked this off-season to reduce bulk and to recapture the touch he previously had with the change-up, his third pitch.  He may have been winless in starts last year before finding success in the bullpen late in the season, but he deserves another chance.  If he is able to throw his three pitches effectively, the results this year will be much better.

Luis Severino

Most experts are predicting Chad Green as the other starting option.  I know that he had a few good starts last year, but I can’t say I am convinced.  I would prefer to see Bryan Mitchell in the rotation over Green.  I also like Luis Cessa, but I agree that his ceiling is not that great.  I’d love to see Jordan Montgomery excel but I think he needs at least another year in the minors before he is ready.  Jon Niese is certainly an option but it’s curious that he has yet to make a spring appearance.

Regardless of who wins the starting spots, it’s a certainty that more than two will have the opportunity to start over the course of the season.  I fully expect to see Chance Adams and Dietrich Enns at some point, and September will most likely see James Kaprielian’s first major league start (if it doesn’t happen sooner).

Mayans MC, Santo Padre Charter

Okay, this is a bit off-topic but I am excited about the upcoming Sons of Anarchy spinoff series, Mayans MC.

the-mayans-samcro-soa-fx-670x447-210420

The latest Kurt Sutter offering will film its pilot this month.  There has been no announcement that the FX Network has picked up the series for its fall lineup, but it’s hard to imagine that they would not.  The creative team has slowly been announcing its cast members.  With each announcement they give a little deeper insight into the show’s storyline.  Set in the same mythology as the Sons of Anarchy, the new show will pick up life post-Jax Teller and will be set on the Mexican-California border.

Here is the synopsis released by FX:

Set in the aftermath of Jax Teller’s death at the end of SOA’s seven-season run in 2014, Mayans MC will focus on the struggles of Ezekiel “EZ” Reyes, a prospect in the Mayan MC charter on the California/Mexico border. EZ is the gifted son of a proud Latino family, whose American dream was snuffed out by cartel violence. Now, his need for vengeance drives him toward a life he never intended and can never escape.

When I first heard about the potential new series, I had hoped that Emilio Rivera would be part of the project.  His character, Marcus Alvarez, President of the Northern California charter of the Mayans MC, was one of my favorite characters on Sons of Anarchy.  With the casting announcements, the character that will be President of the featured charter (Santo Padre) is cousins with Alvarez and the press release indicated that he lived, for a time, with Alvarez.  This gives a possible tie-in to Sons of Anarchy as the character most likely had some interaction with the rival MC.  A nice setup for possible flashbacks.

The casting choices have been exemplary.

  • Felipe Reyes (father of the protagonist):  Edward James Olmos
  • Angel Reyes (brother of the protagonist, full patch member of the MC):  Clayton Cardenas
  • Esai “Taino” Ossorio (President of the Mayans MC, Santo Padre charter):  John Ortiz
  • Michael “Riz” Ariza (Vice President of the Mayans MC):  Antonio Jaramillo
  • EZ Reyes (the protagonist, a prospect of the MC):  JD Pardo
  • Johnny “El Coco” Cruz (full patch member of the MC):  Richard Cabral

There are still critical roles to be announced.  The setup features conflict with the Cartel so villains will be needed, with through regular cast members or through guest starring roles.  There’s also a love interest that EZ Reyes seeks to protect so that will be a key hire.

I am looking forward to the show and hope it’s as successful as its predecessor but in its own right.  Marcus Alvarez, now credited as National President and Founder of the Mayans MC, (Emilio Rivera) will be an awesome bridge between the two series.

Have a great weekend!

Day by day is life in the Bronx…

24:  Live Another Day…

To some, that title refers to the upcoming 12-episode FOX TV Series with Kiefer Sutherland returning as Jack Bauer, but it is also has some parallels with the current state of the Yankees.  24 is the continuation of the roster size until Sunday when Michael Pineda’s suspension ends and he is subsequently placed on the DL.  24 was the return of Robinson Cano to New York even though he now wears #22.  24 seems like the length of yesterday’s 14-inning loss to the Tampa Bay Rays.  24 is the description of the day by day adventure that is a major league baseball season.

Clearly, the Yankees are in a funk right now with a shortened two game sweep by Cano and the Seattle Mariners, followed by last night’s series opening loss to the Rays.

There was a brief stretch earlier in the season where I was feeling very confident with the starting rotation but that lasted about one cycle through the rotation as the Yankees lost Ivan Nova for the season due to Tommy John surgery and Michael Pineda to suspension and subsequently an injured back.  So, Vidal Nuno becomes the #4 starter with David Phelps filling the role of the last man in the rotation.  If CC Sabathia and Hiroki Kuroda were pitching to their proven levels, it would be a different story but they are not.  So, it places so much more focus on the back end.  Right now, there is only one starter that conveys a sense of confidence.  It doesn’t mean that he’ll win every time out, but you feel as though you’ll have the best possible chance for success.  That pitcher, of course, is Japanese import Masahiro Tanaka who has been everything as advertised.  I hate to think where the Yankees rotation would be if he was a Chicago Cub or a Los Angeles Dodger.  We’d probably be bracing for the return of Freddy Garcia at this point.

The Yankees need to do something.  With Nuno and Phelps in the rotation, the bullpen, which had actually started to gel after some early concerns, is a mess.  Nuno strikes me as no more than a good long man, not a starter.  I think Phelps has promise but relying on the combo of Nuno-Phelps is too much.  The Yankees need to find a proven starter, somewhere…somehow, so that they can push, ideally, Nuno back to the pen.   Of course, where that starter is going to come from is anybody’s guess.  It’s not exactly like the Detroit Tigers are going to hand Max Scherzer to the Yanks.  I wouldn’t be surprised to see the return of Alfredo Aceves to the Bronx.   It’s too bad that Manny Banuelos didn’t develop as planned as this would have been a good time for him to make his introduction into the major leagues if he hadn’t encountered injury along his path.   He may still make it one day but unfortunately, he’s not an answer right now.  He’s probably not an answer but you gotta love Graham Stoneburner’s name if nothing else about his game.  Hopefully, the Yankees can make some necessary improvements now rather than having to wait until closer to the July trading deadline.

Death, Taxes, and MLB Injuries…

This has been a tough year for injuries given how many pitchers have had to have Tommy John surgery, and frontline players like Bryce Harper and Jason Kipnis currently on the disabled list.  While the Yankees have been plagued with injuries, they are fortunate it hasn’t been more severe.  Losing Nova for 12-18 months hurts, but still, it could be worse.  These are the times that GM Brian Cashman is asked to prove his mettle.  How he responds to the Yankees current situation will shape the remainder of the season.  As presently constructed, I am not sure that this is a team that will be knocking in October.  It was an older, vulnerable team that has had to deal with injuries and one without able, capable young bodies in the farm system ready and capable to make their mark in The Show.  But, as the saying goes, time will tell as it often does…

The (new) Yankee Stadium hits leader in road gray…

Speaking of Robinson Cano, I had mixed feelings about his return to the Bronx.  There was criticism directed at him in the form of the very loud boos and chants against him, but the louder the Bronx cheers, the more you realize how much the player meant to the fans.  I hated to see Cano leave but I felt and continue to feel the Yankees made the right decision not to match the Mariners’ $240 million offer.  It wasn’t about disrespect, but rather a decision that was in the best interests of the long-term health of the team roster through the next 10 years.  I had no issue with the fans booing and it was clear that Cano was prepared to handle it.  His appearance on The Tonight Show with Jimmy Fallon illustrated how ready he was to confront the fans.  The clip where fans thought they were booing a picture of Cano only to have the real thing step out was classic.  It also showed that how much we may boo Cano and how unhappy we were he didn’t take less money to stay in pinstripes, the bottom line is that he is a quality human being and he sets a good example for the game.

Naturally, I hope he fails in Seattle.  Okay, not really.  I recognize that he is the best at his position.  That won’t be the case in 7-8 years and perhaps the Yankees will have found their long term answer at the position by then.  It was good to see Cano back in the Bronx and despite the sweep, I do wish him well.  But, when he returns to the Bronx the next time, I will boo him.  Sorry, it’s just what we do…

Have a wonderful weekend!

 

–Scott