2017 World Series
Astros 5, Dodgers 1…
Astros Win Series, 4-3
In the words of the former Yankees manager Joe Girardi, it’s not what you want. Sadly for me and those who were pulling for the Los Angeles Dodgers, it was a very long night. From the second consecutive horrific start by Yu Darvish to Cody Bellinger shattering Aaron Judge’s post-season strikeout record, it was a forgettable night for the Dodger Blue as the Houston Astros claimed their first ever World Series Championship.
|Credit: Robert Gauthier – LA Times|
This should have been a special and magical season for the Dodgers. Their start to the season created much talk about surpassing the tremendous accomplishments of the 1998 Yankees, then came the extended losing streak. They rebounded but in the end, they were just another World Series loser. It was a good Dodgers club, but not quite good enough.
As for me, I am kind of tired of the Houston Astros after losing two seven-game series in a row to them…first the Yankees in the ALCS and now the Dodgers in the World Series. Plus, word started popping last night that Yankees third base coach Joe Espada has decided to join the Astros as their new bench coach (replacing Alex Cora who will become the new manager for the Boston Red Sox). I guess it was just adding salt in the wound.
Nevertheless, congratulations to the Astros for the championship! It was a hard-fought win for them and the city of Houston.
The Astros controlled the game from the start. It took three pitches for Houston’s George Springer, leading off the game, to double into the left field corner off Dodgers starter Yu Darvish. Alex Bregman reached base on an error, making it to second on first baseman Cody Bellinger’s throwing error. Bellinger had moved toward second in front of the second baseman in shallow right to scoop up the grounder, but his throw back to first sailed past Darvish. It probably would have been easier for second baseman Logan Forsythe to make that play.
|Credit: David Crane, Los Angeles Daily News/SCNG|
While Bregman advanced to second, Springer scored the game’s first run. Bregman stole third to put himself in prime scoring position. It played to perfection when Jose Altuve grounded out to first, with Bregman racing home to score the second run for the Astros. Darvish settled down and retired the next two hitters to get out of the inning and finally bring the Dodgers to bat.
The Dodgers looked like they were going to answer the bell in the bottom of the 1st. Chris Taylor led off for the Dodgers with a double to deep right center. Corey Seager struck out swinging, but there was still hope with the heart of the Dodgers batting order coming up. Justin Turner was hit by a pitch when he took a ball off his forearm, the first of four batters that Astros starter Lance McCullers, Jr would plunk. Cody Bellinger struck out for the second out. Yasiel Puig was next and he, like Turner, was hit by a pitch, on the arm, to load the bases. The reinvigorated Joc Pederson came to the plate, flashing a smile, with the chance to bring momentum back to the Dodgers. Unfortunately, he grounded out to second baseman Jose Altuve for the final out. No runs for the Dodgers. A missed opportunity for them. In retrospect, one of the game’s key moments.
Yu Darvish was back out on the mound for the 2nd inning but he would not survive. He started the inning by walking Brian McCann. Marwin Gonzalez doubled to the right field wall, with the slow-footed McCann moving to third. Josh Reddick grounded out to second for the first out. Then, in one of the game’s critical moments, McCullers, who should have been an easy out, hit a slow grounder between first and second. The only play for the Dodgers was to throw out McCullers at first. McCann was able to easily jog (sorry, it is hard to use the word “run” when it comes to the former Yankees catcher) home to pick up an RBI for McCullers. George Springer was next and he put an exclamation point on the Astros’ early performance with a two-run homer high over the center field wall. The Astros led, 5-0.
|Credit: Wally Skalij – LA Times|
Dodgers manager Dave Roberts came out and pulled Darvish in favor of Brandon Morrow. It may have been the final Dodger appearance for Darvish, a free agent to be. Morrow struck out Alex Bregman to end the inning but using one of your best relievers in the second inning is not exactly a blue print for success.
The Dodgers looked like they had another opportunity in the bottom of the 2nd. Logan Forsythe started things with a single to left. Austin Barnes grounded out to third (great defensive play and throw by third baseman Alex Bregman), but Forsythe was able to advance to second to put himself in scoring position. Kike Hernandez pinch hit for Morrow and was hit by a pitch (ball grazed his shirt but it would have been Ball 4 anyway). Runners at first and second. But it was not the Dodgers’ night. Chris Taylor lined a shot directly to shortstop Carlos Correa and the Astros were able to double Forsythe off second to complete the double play. Again, no runs for the Dodgers and yet another missed opportunity.
Clayton Kershaw took over for the Dodgers in the top of the 3rd inning. Kind of makes you wonder why the Dodgers didn’t go to Kershaw sooner but he did his job, retiring the Astros in order. There was still time for the Dodgers to claw their way back into the game. In the bottom of the inning, Corey Seager led off with a single to center over Jose Altuve’s head. I tried to think of a humorous line about that but I came up short. Justin Turner was hit by a pitch for the second time, this time under his left shoulder blade, and the fourth hit batter by McCullers.
|Credit: Wally Skalij – LA Times|
After McCullers struck out Cody Bellinger, Astros manager A.J. Hinch removed him and brought in Brad Peacock. Yasiel Puig flied out to center but Seager was able to tag and move to third. Two outs for Joc Pederson with a runner just 90 feet away. Pederson went down swinging. Still no runs for the Dodgers.
Meanwhile, with Kershaw pitching strongly, the Dodgers had their next chance in the 5th. Corey Seager took a one-out walk and moved to second when Justin Turner singled to left. Alex Bregman dove for the ball and knocked it away from Carlos Correa, allowing the ball to roll into left field. The Astros pulled Brad Peacock and brought in Francisco Liriano. Cody Bellinger hit a fielder’s choice to Jose Altuve and the Astros were able to force Turner out at second with Seager moving to third.
|Credit: Wally Skalij – LA Times|
Another pitching change which brought Chris Devenski in to face Yasiel Puig. Devenski won the battle when Puig lined out to first for the final out.
The Astros were able to load the bases in the top of the 6th against Kershaw on only one hit but Kershaw was able to get out of the jam unscathed.
In the bottom of the 6th with Charlie Morton taking over the mound for the Astros, Joc Pederson singled to center…a hit that would have been more useful in his earlier at-bats. Logan Forsythe walked and the Dodgers looked like they might be in business. After Austin Barnes popped out to Carlos Correa in shallow left for the first out, Andre Ethier, pinch-hitting for Kershaw, singled to right on a roller past Jose Altuve, scoring Pederson. Forsythe moved to second. A home run now, and it would have been a one-run game. Unfortunately, like the earlier innings, the Dodgers couldn’t move the runners. Chris Taylor struck out and Corey Seager grounded out to short. It had seemed like it might be a big inning for the Dodgers but all they had to show for it was a single run. 5-1, Astros.
From there, Morton shut down the Dodgers, retiring the next nine batters in order. When Corey Seager hit a grounder to second baseman Jose Altuve who, in turn, threw the ball to first baseman Yuli Gurriel in the bottom of the 9th, the Houston Astros were World Series Champions.
|Credit: Luis Sinco – LA Times|
I am happy for Carlos Beltran and Brian McCann. For them, it was good to see the elusive World Series championship come their way. It might be the final hour for Beltran’s career so if it is the end, he gets to go out the right way.
|Credit: Jason O Watson, Getty Images North America|
George Springer was rightfully named the Series MVP. His five home runs tied a World Series record and he was seemingly at the heart of every big Astros rally in this series.
|Credit: Keith Birmingham, Pasadena Star-News/SCNG|
For as much as I ripped Yuli Gurriel for his offensive gestures directed at Yu Darvish and his subsequent 2018 suspension for same, it was a very nice touch by Gurriel to tip his cap to Darvish when he came to the plate in the bottom of the 1st inning.
|Credit: John McCoy, Los Angeles Daily News/SCNG|
The first pitches for the game were thrown by Dodgers legends Sandy Koufax and Don Newcombe, with Steve Garvey and Rick Monday on the receiving ends, respectively. It was a very nice moment for the Dodgers and their fans.
|Credit: David Crane, Los Angeles Daily News/SCNG|
Now, the MLB season is over and the Hot Stove League begins. Time for the Yankees to find a new manager and begin preparations for the path that hopefully leads to the 2018 World Series championship.
Odds & Ends…
Now that the World Series has ended, Masahiro Tanaka has three days to decide if he’ll opt out of his contract. So, we’ll know by Saturday where we stand with the right-hander. I am hopeful that either he decides not to opt out or that he and the Yankees are able to come together for an extension. I would prefer to see Tanaka stay.
|Credit: Anthony Causi, New York Post|
It looks like the Yankees have found their replacement for former VP of Player Development, Gary Denbo, who recently departed to join Derek Jeter in Miami. Kevin Reese, most recently Director of Professional Scouting for the Yankees, will apparently take Denbo’s former role. There has not been an official announcement yet by the Yankees but it is expected shortly.
The New York Mets did not retain hitting coach Kevin Long when Long’s contract expired so there are rumors that Long could return to his former role as hitting coach for the Yankees. Nothing against Alan Cockrell or Marcus Thames, but I’d like to see Long back in Pinstripes. He is one of the many rumored names for potential Yankees manager. I do not really want to see him as the manager, but as part of the coaching staff, he’d be a great fit.
The coming days should be interesting for the Yankees and the managerial search. I find it very hard to believe that they did not have a specific choice or choices in mind when they made the decision not to retain Joe Girardi. So I don’t buy they are in the process of gathering names. I think they’ll go with an outsider rather than someone with immediate Yankee connections but we’ll see. Things should become more transparent as we move forward. I would not be at all surprised if the new manager is Jerry Hairston, Jr.
|Credit: USA TODAY Sports|
Have a great Thursday! It was a wonderful season and a successful one for the Pinstripers. They are only going to get better. Go Yankees!
The latest Yahoo Sports MLB Power Rankings that pushed the New York Yankees to #1 were a bit premature. These Yankees are not quite up to par with the high flying Houston Astros (who were ranked #3). Two games does not a season make, but the Yankees haven’t exactly shown they can hang with the Astros so far in this series.
The Astros seem to have every answer and it appears that both Brian McCann and Carlos Beltran have found themselves on the right side of the equation.
Credit: Frank Franklin II/Associated Press
Right now, the two best teams in Baseball are the Astros and the Washington Nationals (even with their bullpen problems).
The Yankees have two games to right the ship. They can prove that they can play with the Astros, just not with pitchers named Keuchel or McCullers. Today’s game has been postponed due to inclement weather so the Yankees will play a double-header tomorrow for the joint Derek Jeter’s and Mother’s Day. It’s single-admission entry so only Sunday’s ticketholders have seats for the Derek Jeter ceremonies. Saturday’s ticketholders will be able to exchange their tickets for future games. The Bronx weather forecast calls for a 60% chance for rain tomorrow which falls to 20% by evening. The first game is expected to start at 2:05 pm. Hopefully we’ll be listening to Frank Sinatra singing New York, New York by the end of the day.
Yesterday’s game was not pretty. Brian McCann set the tone early with his three run homer off Jordan Montgomery in the fourth inning. The ball traveled just inside right-field foul pole into an area that McCann has frequently deposited pitches. As a guy we once cheered for, McCann is becoming a thorn. He caught the pitch that nailed Jacoby Ellsbury at the plate to end Thursday’s game, then he launched the deciding blast yesterday. Lance McCullers, Jr showed why he is one of the great young talents in the game. It was eery when the TV telecast showed a comparison of his dad pitching for the Yankees and then the younger McCullers. They are very similar with their pitching motions and release. Young Lance went six innings, holding the Yanks to four hits and no runs. He showed excellent control with no walks, and struck out seven Bombers (although Gary Sanchez was the most frequent contributor to those K’s).
The Yankees scored a run in the ninth inning on a two-out RBI single by Didi Gregorius, but it was too little, too late. Ronald Torreyes struck out to end the game.
I felt bad for Jordan Montgomery. Remove the McCann homer, and he didn’t pitch that badly. He did register 7 strikeouts, but the final line in six innings was not pretty. 8 hits and 4 runs saw the elevation of Montgomery’s season ERA from 3.81 to 4.19. As for the bullpen, Jonathan Holder and Tyler Clippard continue to show that the arms in front of Dellin Betances and Aroldis Chapman are very strong. Aroldis Chapman, on the other hand, is cause for concern. Chapman only lasted two-thirds of an inning in the ninth when he allowed three hits, including a two-out RBI single to Josh Reddick. With shades of his poor performance in Cincinnati earlier in the week, Chapman couldn’t finish the inning after he gave up a single to Jose Altuve. Giovanny Gallegos, making his Major League debut, had to be called on to retire the Astros (he induced Yankee killer Carlos Correa into a fly out to center). Hopefully this is just a temporary funk for Chapman and he is not seriously injured.
Credit: Elsa/Getty Images
Despite the loss (their third in a row), the Yankees (21-12) remain a half-game behind the Baltimore Orioles in the AL East as the O’s fell to the Kansas City, 3-2. The Boston Red Sox tried unsuccessfully to rally against the Tampa Bay Rays and lost 5-4, so there was no movement at the top of the division standings.
Chance Adams is getting closer to New York. You can feel the rumble. On Friday, the Yankees promoted the 22-year old right-hander from AA-Trenton to AAA-Scranton/Wilkes-Barre. In six games for the Thunder, Adams was 4-0 with a 1.03 ERA. In 35 innings, he has only given up 23 hits, 6 runs (4 earned), 2 HR’s, and 15 walks. He has also sent 32 batters muttering to themselves as they walked back to the dugout after strikeouts. There’s no doubt we’ll soon be taking a chance on Adams in the Big Apple in the not-so-distant future if he keeps pitching like this. Given that he’s dominated every level, there’s little doubt that AAA is his next victim.
The word is that Tyler Austin will begin playing rehab games soon. So, when he is ready, the Yankees have decisions to make. They can send Austin to AAA or they can bring him to the Bronx. If he arrives at 161st and River and starts making solid contributions, Chris Carter is going to become obsolete. I do not see a need for Carter once both Austin and Greg Bird are healthy. If Carter was at least demonstrating some of the power that led to 41 home runs last year, it would be one thing but he’s not. He’s a one-dimensional player that isn’t exactly tearing it up in his one dimension. I think Carter needs regular at-bats to get into a groove but the Yankees are not going to afford him that opportunity (nor should they). The team would be best served by flipping Carter to another team for some spare parts.
Have a great Saturday! Stay dry and keep your fun and excitement at an all-time high!
There have been better Yankees than Derek Jeter. Yes, I said it…
I know I should not say any disparaging words about Jeter but for as many fans as he had during his playing days, he was just not one of my favorites. Sorry guys and more importantly, gals. I liked the player and enjoyed his time, but probably more so in the earlier part of his career. When everyone was wearing #2 jerseys, I was just not feeling it. Throughout the last Yankees dynasty, my favorite player was Mariano Rivera. So, basically from the time he started until he walked off the field for the final time, Mo was my favorite Yankee. Well, I guess I should say that he didn’t technically become my favorite until 1996 when he zinging bullets in front of closer John Wetteland. Up to 1995, my favorite was Donnie Baseball.
Don’t get me wrong. I enjoyed watching Jeter’s final days and the memorable last game at Yankee Stadium. I’ll watch on Sunday with interest as the Yankees retire #2 to Monument Park. I’ll be thankful for his time in pinstripes, and he’ll not be forgotten. He just wasn’t one of my favorites, that’s all. Paul O’Neill, Tino Martinez, Jorge Posada, Andy Pettitte…loved those guys when they wore pinstripes. I can’t put a finger on it but I’ve never felt the same way about Jeter. For all his faults, I even loved Darryl Strawberry. His home run swing is still one of my all-time favorites. Maybe this is why it is easier for me to accept the fact that Jeter might be part of the ownership and management team for the Miami Marlins. At that point, he’ll just be another dude. No different than Brian Sabean, Dick Tidrow and Dave Righetti in San Francisco except that he’ll have an ownership stake in his team. I am sure that Jeter will pull for the Yankees as long as they are not playing the Marlins but you know if they do meet, Jeter will be pulling out every stop to beat Baseball’s most storied franchise.
I was glad when Jeter was finally out of the way and we were able to upgrade, first defensively and later offensively, with Didi Gregorius. It was time for change. I am sure the day will come when I’ll be glad to see Didi’s replacement. Unfortunately, all of us are adversely afflicted with aging. Well, except for maybe Betty White.
I am not trying to offend anyone. It’s simply a case that all of us are entitled to our own opinions.
I’ve been aware of Jeter since he was an 18-year-old from Kalamazoo, Michigan, picked 6th overall in the 1992 MLB Draft. It was a great long successful career. But there is nothing in the Yankees Fan Rule Book that says he had to be one of my favorites. I always thought the crowds Jeter would draw at baseball games were somewhat humorous. Women swooned in his presence and maybe a few guys. He now lives a life in a mansion in Florida and is married to one of the most beautiful women in the world. He obviously has excess cash to spend as part of the ownership group seeking to purchase the Marlins. He lives in a world that I’ll never know or understand. Pardon me, but I’d rather cheer for Aaron Judge or Gary Sanchez on Sunday. Enjoy your day, Derek. Lou Gehrig had it wrong. You’re the luckiest man on the face of the Earth.
Since I seem to be on a negative roll today, I’ll go ahead and include Carlos Beltran. Despite Beltran’s interest in returning to the Yankees in the off-season, I am thankful that he opted to grab the one-year, $16 million deal from the Houston Astros. Beltran did a fine job as a Yankee and he was arguably our best hitter the first part of last year, but I strongly prefer Aaron Judge in right field (the obvious no-brainer) and Matt Holliday at DH. I have absolutely no issue with the Yankees for not engaging Beltran in talks during his free agency period last November-December. His present team might be one of our biggest roadblocks to October but I had/have no interest in a reunion tour with Beltran.
The Yankees fell to the Houston Astros 3-2 last night in the first game of a four game set. This series is one of the major tests to determine if the Yankees are for real. I knew, looking at the pitching matchup, this was going to be the hardest one with Yankee killer Dallas Keuchel on the mound. In picking up his sixth win of the year, Keuchel dominated the Yankees as he always does. In 50 2/3 innings, he has only allowed seven Yankees to cross home plate. CC Sabathia would let teams do that every game if Joe Girardi allowed him to go deeper into games. For the game, Keuchel went six innings. He only gave up 5 hits and allowed an unearned run. He walked one and struck out nine. As tough as Keuchel was, the Yankees had their chances.
It didn’t help that the Astros jumped out to an early 2-0 lead in the first inning before many people had even gotten to their seats. The first hit of the game was a double by Josh Reddick that fell between Didi Gregorius and Jacoby Ellsbury. It was a play that Ellsbury should have called but didn’t, leading Didi to attempt a failed catch with his back turned. With two outs, Carlos Correa homered to center, scoring Reddick. The Yankees were never able to recover.
I certainly do not place any blame with Michael Pineda. He did his job. He gave up three runs over 6 2/3 innings, allowing six hits and a walk. He struck out seven.
With the bases loaded in the fifth and two outs, Jacoby Ellsbury was credited with an RBI on catcher’s interference (his bat hit Brian McCann’s glove). It was the 28th catcher’s inference that Ellsbury has accumulated over his career, trailing Pete Rose by one. Gary Sanchez grounded out to end the threat, leaving the bases loaded (one of the game’s missed opportunities).
The Yankees couldn’t get anything going against Chris Devenski, who replaced Keuchel in the seventh inning. Devenski has been one of Baseball’s best setup men so far this young season. But opportunity presented itself in the bottom of the ninth inning with the Yankees trailing 3-1. With two outs, the Yankees had runners at second (Ellsbury) and third (Aaron Hicks) against Astros closer Ken Giles. Gary Sanchez hit a single to left, scoring Hicks. Third base coach Joe Espada also sent Ellsbury, but a perfect strike from left fielder Jake Marisnick to Brian McCann nailed Ells at the plate to end the game.
Credit: Kathy Willens/AP
The Yankees fell to 21-11, allowing the Baltimore Orioles to re-take sole possession of first place in the AL East by a half-game (the O’s were off). On the bright side, we won’t be seeing Keuchel again this series. Tonight’s matchup will be tough as young Lance McCullers, Jr has performed well so far this year (2-1, 3.40 ERA). The Yankees counter with Jordan Montgomery (2-1, 3.81 ERA).
Have a great Friday! Time to show the Astros that we are for real!
I’ll say it right now. I am NOT on board with the special Derek Jeter’s Day hats to be worn by the Yankees on Sunday. With no disrespect to the former Yankees captain or the countless mothers that will be in attendance for the joint Jeter-Mother’s Day game, the color pink does not have a place with the famed pinstripes. Behind the pink hat is just someone trying to make a buck. If all proceeds are given to a meaningful charity, then maybe I could buy into the dreadful hat. Otherwise, it looks like a poorly thought out marketing scheme.
The DL epidemic seems to be impacting elite closers. Depending upon who you ask, Baseball’s third and fourth best closers are now on the Disabled List. Zach Britton of the Baltimore Orioles is out for 45-60 days following a visit with Dr Neal ElAttrache (the surgeon who recently performed Tommy John surgery on James Kaprielian). For Britton’s sake, he received better news than Kaprielian did as surgery is not necessary for his left arm (throwing arm) strain. However, he’ll be out until after the All-Star Break. Meanwhile, the San Francisco Giants have placed their new high-priced closer, and former Yankee, Mark Melancon, on the DL with a “mild right pronator strain”. Here’s wishing and hoping for good health for the premier closers, the Yankees’ Aroldis Chapman and Kenley Jansen of the Los Angeles Dodgers.
I realize that some Yankees fans will be moving into “World Series or Bust” mode any day now (if they haven’t already) but I still need more time before I am going to proclaim the Yankees as the team of the year. I want to see how the young Baby Bombers perform this weekend against Brian McCann, Carlos Beltran and the high flying Houston Astros. If the Yankees are still making noise at the top of the AL East when the calendar flips to June, then maybe I’ll start to get on-board. It’s a long season and it’s still early. There’s no doubt we’ll experience a few bumps in the road. It will be how the team responds to those downturns that will determine the eventual course for this season.
CC Sabathia was awful for one inning last night but that’s all it took to shut down the Yankees’ six game winning streak in the 5-3 loss to the Cincinnati Reds. Ten men came to the plate against Sabathia in the second inning. Six singles and a walk later and the Reds had erased a 2-0 Yanks advantage by pushing five runs across the plate. Sabathia (2-2) went 6 innings, allowing 7 hits and the 5 runs. He walked 2 and struck out 2, while pushing his ERA to 5.77. Right now, at least, Sabathia is the weak link in an otherwise strong Yankees rotation. But as the saying goes, you are only as strong as your weakest link so this is certainly a concern.
Credit: John Minchillo/AP
The Yankees had a chance to win at the end. With any game, that’s all I can ask. After Aaron Hicks and Matt Holliday walked with one out in the 9th inning, Gary Sanchez came to the plate with the chance to erase the Reds’ two-run lead. Sanchez had already homered in his first at-bat of the game, a ball that travelled 448 feet to center. But he lined a shot to Reds third baseman Eugenio Suarez, who threw to second, catching Hicks off base, for the game-ending double play.
Didi Gregorius is starting to heat up which is a good sign. He went 3-for-4 with a first inning home run.
The Baltimore Orioles defeated the Washington Nationals 5-4 in extra innings last night, so the Yankees (21-10) fell out of first place in the AL East by a half-game. The Boston Red Sox lost which is always a fun thing to see. I’d take joy in that even if they were the worst team in baseball.
All things considered it was a good (albeit short) road trip as the Yanks took four of five. With an off day today (Sleep, I love you!), the Yankees prepare for a long four game set against the Houston Astros at Yankee Stadium beginning Thursday. The series concludes on Sunday with Derek Jeter Night and the aforementioned pink caps.
The former Yankees coming to the Bronx are Astros catcher Brian McCann and DH Carlos Beltran. Lance McCullers, Jr, one of the Astros starting pitchers, is the son of a former Yankee. His father pitched for the Yankees from 1989 to 1990 (three years before Lance Jr was born).
The probable pitching matchups for the Astros series are as follows:
HOU: Dallas Keuchel (5-0, 1.88 ERA)
NYY: Michael Pineda (3-1, 3.12 ERA)
HOU: Lance McCullers, Jr (2-1, 3.40 ERA)
NYY: Jordan Montgomery (2-1, 3.81 ERA)
HOU: Mike Fiers (1-1, 5.64 ERA)
NYY: Luis Severino (2-2, 3.40 ERA)
HOU: Charlie Morton (4-2, 3.63 ERA)
NYY: Masahiro Tanaka (5-1, 4.36 ERA)
Speaking of former Yankees, the Detroit Tigers have named Justin Wilson as their closer, replacing Francisco Rodriguez. The lefty, who brought pitchers Luis Cessa and Chad Green to New York, is currently carrying a 1.32 ERA with 22 strikeouts in 13 2/3 innings. Regardless of how Cessa and Green ever perform, it sure would have been nice to have Wilson in this year’s bullpen. But then again, Andrew Miller would have looked good too. Oh well, onward and upward!
Have a great Wednesday!
The Dawn of the Baseball Winter Meetings…
This week is always the most eventful one of the entire off-season. A flurry of activity followed by relative silence as we head into the holidays.
Credit: AP Photo/Seth Wenig
Before the meetings start later this evening, the Yankees have already lost one option with Houston’s free agent signing of former Yankee Carlos Beltran. I had mixed feelings about his possible return to New York. He was arguably the team’s best hitter last season but he is also 40 years old. For a team that has aggressively gotten younger, adding “old” does not necessarily make sense. There is no guarantee that Beltran will be as good as last year, and it’s a near impossibility that he’d be better. Going with older veterans, I’d rather sign either Matt Holliday or Mike Napoli to a short-term deal that keeps the Yankees on the right path toward World Series contention in 2018 or 2019.
Back in the old days under George Steinbrenner, I am sure that both Edwin Encarnacion and Jose Bautista would be Yankees by now. Of the two, I’d prefer Encarnacion but I don’t feel the Yankees should lock up huge long-term dollars for either player even if it would severely weaken the Toronto Blue Jays in the short run. In a couple of years, they’ll just be over-paid, under-producing aging veterans. We’ve seen enough of those in recent seasons.
Credit: Reuters/Ray Stubblebine
There are unofficial reports that the Los Angeles Dodgers have a deal in place with starter Rich Hill so that’s one less option on the pitching front. A deal with Jason Hammel probably makes the most sense. I like Hammel as a reliable, back of the rotation guy. He would be a good complimentary piece to Masahiro Tanaka and Michael Pineda as the team looks to fill other pitching spots with youth. I would probably take a chance with either C.J. Wilson or Tyson Ross if given the opportunity.
It’s possible that GM Brian Cashman can uncover a quality arm via trade but it’s a virtual certainty the team won’t be involved in the Chris Sale sweepstakes. Sale alone would not make the Yankees an immediate World Series contender and he would cost the best quality of the farm system to acquire. So, the Yankees need to stay the course as they continue to add the pieces for future success.
I was disappointed to see minor league hitting coordinator James Rowson leave the organization. I am happy to see him return to the major leagues as the hitting coach for the Minnesota Twins, however, I thought he would have been a better hitting coach for the Yankees than current hitting coach Alan Cockrell or assistant hitting coach Marcus Thames. When the Yankees had dismissed Jeff Pentland last year, I was hopeful that Rowson would get the job. It was not meant to be. I think he’ll be a good addition to Paul Molitor’s staff in Minneapolis and should help former Yankee and current Twins’ co-catcher John Ryan Murphy to hit again.
I remain hopeful the Yankees re-sign pitchers Nathan Eovaldi and Jacob Lindgren* as they recover from Tommy John surgery. Granted, neither pitcher will help in 2017 but I would really prefer to see them stay.
Let’s hope this week brings good news for Yankees fans…
*Several hours after this post, the Atlanta Braves announced they’ve signed Lindgren to a one year deal that will allow them to retain rights to Lindgren if they add him to their 40-man roster.
Winter is coming…
The dawn of the Winter Meetings. It’s is always one of my favorite times of the year. Last year was very quiet for the Yankees but still, so much happens in the first few days of the meetings with free agent signings and trades.
I am very relieved that the owners and the players association agreed on a new Collective Bargaining Agreement. I didn’t really expect a lockout but of course it was always a possibility until the two sides came to an agreement. I understand why the CBA issue held up the Yankees due to the luxury tax implications and uncertainty associated therewith. Now that both sides have a better understanding of the new deal, it should allow the Yankees to begin shaping the 2017 team.
I fully recognize that there will not be wholesale changes. This isn’t 2009 when the Yankees dumped a half billion dollars on top free agents. Sure, I’d love to have Edwin Encarnacion or Jose Bautista on the team but realistically it is not going to happen. Between the two, I’d take Encarnacion but I still don’t think it will happen. The Yankees have a clear need for a solid, clutch-hitting DH but I think they’ll go with either Carlos Beltran or Matt Holliday. Staying in house is an option but that mean DH will be used as a rotation to rest the regulars.
I would love for the Yankees to find a way to move LF Brett Gardner and 3B Chase Headley but in both cases, age + contract make the players hard to move. Gardner would probably be the easier of the two to move. While the Yankees have in-house options to replace Gardner, they’d probably have to go outside to get a replacement for Headley. Miguel Andujar showed in the Arizona Fall League that he is the future at third, but his arrival is still a few years away. I’ve also seen the projections of Gleyber Torres taking over second base, pushing current second baseman Starlin Castro to third. But Torres won’t see the Bronx until late in the 2017 season or sometime in 2018. Despite the absence of immediate help at third, I am still ready to end the Chase Headley story even if he did recover from a horrendous April to have a very good season last year.
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My wish list for this off-season still begins with closer Aroldis Chapman. I am still very hopeful that he’ll find his way back to the Bronx. Kenley Jansen would certainly be acceptable if Plan A does not materialize. I am probably warming up to the idea of a Bronx return for Mark Melancon but I think he’ll either stay in Washington or go to San Francisco. Greg Holland is also an option. I think the Yankees have to move Dellin Betances back to a key setup role where he is better suited. Mariano Rivera, he is not.
As for starting pitchers, I am not opposed to the potential signing of starter Rich Hill. He is older than I would like for a team in transition to youth, but he obviously has a quality arm and would provide rotation stability. He reminds me somewhat of Hiroki Kuroda. A consistent pitcher who can occasionally throw a gem. Not a frontline starter, but a very dependable one. As for trades, I have no idea. I’d love Tampa’s Chris Archer but I don’t think the Rays would trade inter-division and his cost would probably be too high. I liked the Arizona Diamondbacks’ acquisition of Taijuan Walker. A young pitcher who was not fulfilled his potential but the upside is still there. Those are the types of pitchers I’d try to target. I know, it does fall into the high risk, maybe high reward, possible low reward category but look where Jake Arrieta has taken the Chicago Cubs.
It was tough to see pitcher Nathan Eovaldi cut within the last couple of weeks and today’s non-tender of lefty Jacob Lindgren, both players who will miss the 2017 season due to Tommy John surgery. It wasn’t that long ago when Lindgren was tabbed as a can’t miss, fast-track prospect with the potential to make the major league roster the year he was drafted. Injuries have held Lindgren back, but he’s still young enough to recover for a fine professional career. I am hopeful the Yankees find a way to bring both pitchers back into the organization now that they’ve been removed from the 40-man roster.
Next week should be fun. Unlike last year, I am hopeful and optimistic that the Yankees will be active in an attempt to improve the roster and build strength around the emerging young core. We shall see…
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…