|Photo Credit: AP (Rick Scuteri)|
Patrick Corbin should be at the forefront for the Yankees…
So many possibilities, where do the Yankees go? November is always a tough month for the Hot Stove League. Lots of talk but not really much action. There’s always the chance for a major trade but we generally have to get much closer to the Baseball Winter Meetings in December for the flurry of activity, then the quietness returns until the start of training camp. I don’t expect this year to be any different.
No doubt GM Brian Cashman is laying the groundwork for potential trades. He’s talked with the Cleveland Indians, he’s reached out to the Seattle Mariners, and has surely had talks with teams we’ve heard nothing about. The talks now will hopefully yield fruit later, but rest assured, if the Yankees are successful in obtaining Corey Kluber, Carlos Carrasco or James Paxton, it WILL hurt. For a team on the cusp of a championship, now is not the time to “prospect-hug”. The team must be prepared to pay the price, whatever it may be, to bring in a top of the rotation arm.
Of the names mentioned, I probably like Kluber the best. He would immediately became the team’s ace, which we clearly need, and his presence would help take pressure off Luis Severino. Less pressure on Sevy would only enhance the chances for him to become the best he can be. But if the Yanks can’t get Kluber, Carrasco would be a welcome addition. I really like James Paxton and I think his name has been mentioned frequently in the past by TGP’s Daniel Burch. My only concern, like many others, is health. Paxton has not proven to be a durable pitcher. But if the team has the opportunity to add Paxton and the price is reasonable, they should do it.
|Photo Credit: USATSI|
Regardless of how the trade market plays out, I hope the Yankees do not lose sight of free agent starter Patrick Corbin. He will be costly but I am very fascinated with how his left arm and pitching arsenal would play in Yankee Stadium. He grew up as a Yankees fan and wore #46 in Arizona out of respect for Andy Pettitte. He is a ground ball pitcher with five legitimate pitches although his deadly combinations are the slider, four-seam fastball, and sinker. He’s been praised for his work ethic and the signs show he will be an elite pitcher in his 30’s. Corbin might slot into the third or fourth spot in the rotation depending upon what the Yankees do on the trade market, but he’d ensure the starting rotation is a strength in 2019 compared to its achilles heel in 2018.
Despite the rumors of so many names, Corbin remains my number one target this off-season. I hope the Yankees see it the same way. Paired with an ace acquired via trade, or added along with the return of a guy like J.A. Happ or Nathan Eovaldi, the starting rotation will be better next year with Corbin in it.
|Photo Credit: USA Today Sports (Mark J Rebilas)|
The Bryce Harper/Manny Machado talk has reached absurd levels. I am anxious for the guys to get their $300 million plus contracts to end the excessive chatter about the two young superstars. I think the Yankees would be foolish to pass on at least one of the rare “young” superstars but it’s not my money. I see the advantage of Bryce’s left-handed bat in the Yankees lineup and I see Manny’s role in bridging the gap at short and eventually providing a superior defender at third. My personal preference may be Machado as I’ve long admired the player but I would shed no tears with the signing of Harper. Still, the Yankees can win without either so if they go big with the starting rotation and bring in a guy like Marwin Gonzalez or Daniel Murphy to help the infield, it will not be the end of the world. I like the chances better with Harper or Machado, but the 2019 Yankees will contend for the World Series regardless of how this plays out. “Go big or go home” applies now more than ever.
I want the Yankees to end the reign of the Boston Red Sox next season so I am in favor of whatever moves the team has to make to improve. I’d hate to see Miguel Andujar, Estevan Florial, Justus Sheffield, or Albert Abreu leave, but if it improves the team, so be it. Championship windows do not remain open for extended periods of time. You have to take advantage of the opportunities when they present themselves. I am ready for the pain for the greater glory. In Cashman we trust…
|Photo Credit: AP (Gregory Bull)|
For those keeping score, the Yankees have made some moves this off-season. They’ve re-signed Brett Gardner and CC Sabathia to one-year deals. They re-signed minor league free agent third baseman and defensive-whiz Giovanny Urshela and they signed a minor league deal with former Pirates catcher Ryan Lavarnway. Lavarnway was once a heralded top prospect for the Red Sox, although, now in his 30’s, he has settled into a journeyman role. He provides much needed catching depth at the upper levels of the farm system. Lavarnway is one of those guys I hope the Yankees don’t need to use but he’s there to help if it becomes necessary. Milwaukee’s Erik Kratz has proven it is never too late to make a significant contribution. Welcome to the Yankees Family, Ryan!
|Photo Credit: Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Matt Freed)|
The end is within sight for Jacoby Ellsbury. He only has two more years on his contract before the Yankees can exercise their buyout. Ellsbury is owed $42,285,174 for the next two seasons, and the Yankees can then buyout his contract for an additional $5 million. Realistically, I don’t expect Ellsbury to wear the pinstripes again or at least I hope not, but I am glad we can finally see the light at the end of the tunnel. I’ve seen some suggest the Yankees should trade Ellsbury for another dead contract (like Miami’s Wei-Yin Chen, owed $58 million for the next three years, or Seattle’s Robinson Cano, owed $120 million over the next five years). No, thanks. I don’t think the Yankees should take on more money to rid themselves of Ellsbury. I like Cano and he might help but financially it makes absolutely no sense. He is clearly on the downhill slide and he’s entering the really ugly side of his ridiculous contract. If the Yankees can finally move Ellsbury even if they have to pay the bulk of his remaining contract, that’s the way to go. If I was a GM for another team and I was convinced that Ellsbury was finally healthy, I’d take a chance on him for no more than a $5 million per year commitment. That’s a lot of money for the Yankees to eat, but it would be worth the investment (addition by subtraction). I am done with Ellsbury and don’t want to see him pull on the pinstripes again.
Yesterday saw two notable names in the game announce their plans to retire. Hats off to Joe Mauer of the Minnesota Twins and Chase Utley of the Los Angeles Dodgers for long, distinguished careers. Both are names I’d like to see stay in the game in some capacity. I am not sure what their plans are for the future but I wish both the very best as they enter the next phase of their lives. Mauer’s departure certainly opens an opportunity at first base for former Yankee Tyler Austin unless they decide to go in a different direction for new manager Rocco Baldelli.
Is Sonny Gray still a Yankee? Count me among those who think Cashman will bring a better than expected return for the failed Yankee. I am certain he’ll get at least a strong prospect with upside. We’ll see. Hopefully Gray’s Yankee career is over by this time next month. It would be great if he could take Luis Cessa and A.J. Cole with him.
As always, Go Yankees!
American League Division Series, Game 3
Yankees 1, Indians 0…
The Yankees rode the arms of Masahiro Tanaka and Aroldis Chapman, the glove of Aaron Judge and the bat of Greg Bird to to their first win in the ALDS. It was a very exciting game and one that cannot underestimate the value of Gary Sanchez’s defense behind the plate.
After a postseason that was seen a bevy of starting pitching blowups in both leagues, this was a classic pitcher’s duel. Going against Cleveland Indians starter Carlos Carrasco, a “quiet” 18-game winner during the season, I figured that getting runs would be difficult.
The Indians threatened first. With one out in the top of the 4th, the Indians got their second hit of the game when Jason Kipnis lined a shot into right field for a triple. Aaron Judge, running hard, tried to reach the ball but it bounced off the palm of his glove. It looked like the Indians might score the game’s first run but Tanaka struck out both Jose Ramirez and Jay Bruce, very dangerous sluggers, to retire the Indians (much to the delight of the very loud Yankee Stadium crowd).
As great as Tanaka was pitching, the Yankees were unable to register their first hit against Carrasco until the bottom of the 4th when Didi Gregorius singled to center. He didn’t go anywhere but at least the Yankees had eliminated the goose egg under the hits column.
Roberto Perez opened the top of the 6th inning for the Tribe with a single to left. Giovanny Urshela lined out to right for the first out to bring superstar Francisco Lindor to the plate. Lindor smoked a Tanaka splitter high to right field and it looked like the Indians might have the first runs of the game. Hold your horses! Aaron Judge perfectly timed his leap and with his glove stretched high from his 6’7″ frame, he caught Lindor’s ball from landing in the first rows of the right field seats. It was a brilliant game-saving catch. If you can’t beat them with your bat, beat them with your glove.
|Credit: Kathy Willens-AP|
The Yankees mounted their first genuine scoring opportunity in the bottom of the 6th. The inning started when Aaron Hicks reached first base on a slow grounder to third off the end of his bat. Unfortunately, Brett Gardner hit a grounder to short which the Indians turned for a double play. Aaron Judge was next and he walked on five pitches. Gary Sanchez followed with a single to center. Didi Gregorius, like Judge, also walked on five pitches from Carrasco. Bases loaded for Starlin Castro. Tribe manager Terry Francona made the call to the bullpen and brought in the great Andrew Miller. Miller retired Castro on a pop up to shallow left, leaving the bases full of Yanks. Ugh…
While Tanaka was continuing to breeze through the Indians’ lineup, Greg Bird led off the bottom of the 7th against Miller with a massive home run into the second deck (almost into the third deck) of right field. Remind me again why we (which includes me) wanted Yonder Alonso, Justin Bour, Lucas Duda or Jay Bruce for first base before the trading deadline. Bird is showing that he was the best first base “acquisition” of the second half. The Yankees were up, 1-0.
|Credit: Paul J Bereswill-NY Post|
Todd Frazier followed Bird, however, he flied out to left. Francona made another call to the pen, this time for one-time Yankee Tyler Olson. Olson struck out both Chase Headley and Aaron Hicks to end the inning, making me wonder why the Yankees cut Olson in 2016. Olson had come to the Yankees in the January 2016 trade that also brought Ronald Torreyes from the Los Angeles Dodgers for third baseman Rob Segedin. The Yankees ended up cutting both players, although we know that Torreyes eventually found his way back home. Nice job by Olson although I was hoping for a much worse result for him.
David Robertson took over for Tanaka in the top of the 8th. He got Austin Jackson to fly out to right for the first out, but then he walked Michael Brantley on a full count. Manager Joe Girardi wasn’t going to take any chances so he pulled D-Rob and replaced him with Aroldis Chapman. Chapman did his job, racking up two strikeouts on eight pitches.
|Credit: John Munson-NJ Advance Media for NJ.com|
In the bottom of the 8th, with Olson still pitching for the Indians, Brett Gardner led off with a fly to center that dropped barely in front of the glove of center fielder Jason Kipnis for a double. The Indians brought in former Los Angeles Angels reliever Joe Smith who struck out Aaron Judge and Gary Sanchez. After Didi Gregorius was intentionally walked, Starlin Castro hit into a fielder’s choice at third to retire Gardy on the force out. I would have preferred an insurance run or two in that spot but it was not to be.
Onto the top of the 9th, and time for a showdown between Chapman and the Indians, facing the top of the order. Chapman struck out Francisco Lindor for the first out. Then things got very tense. Jason Kipnis singled up the middle to center field, followed by a very sharp grounder to third by Jose Ramirez. Todd Frazier made a great stop but the ball came out of his glove on the transfer from his knees. Runners at first and second with only one out. Chapman, firing at 100 mph+, dug deep and struck out Jay Bruce for the critical second out. One man stood between Chapman and victory and it was Carlos Santana, more than capable of sending one out for the tying run. Chapman won the battle when Santana got under a 102 mph Chapman fastball and lifted a fly to left center into the glove of Aaron Hicks for the final out. The Yankees win!
|Credit: Getty Images|
It was a nail-biter at the end but the Yankees persevered to live another day. I honestly didn’t think that Greg Bird’s solo home run would hold up as the margin of victory but to my pleasant surprise, it did. Clearly, if Aaron Judge hadn’t made that great catch in the 6th inning, there would be champagne stains on the floor in the visitor’s clubhouse.
Yankees manager Joe Girardi was booed heavily by the home crowd during the pre-game introductions. I blamed Girardi for the Game 2 loss as much as anyone, but I thought it was unfair to treat Girardi so poorly. Regardless of his faults, he is the current manager of the Yankees and his job is win games for us. The last thing he needed was our non-support. Not one of the better moments at Yankee Stadium.
|Credit: John Munson-NJ Advance Media for NJ.com|
Gary Sanchez, who has taken much heat for his defense and league-leading passed balls, did an excellent job catching this game.
For today’s game, the Cleveland Indians have announced that Game 1 starter Trevor Bauer, pitching on short rest, will get the nod. He’ll be opposed by Luis Severino who made the less-than-stellar extremely short start in the Wild Card game. Hopefully, Sevy will have the answer for his nerves tonight when he steps out on the main stage. His job is to get this series back to Cleveland and into the hands of Sonny Gray.
Odds & Ends…
I enjoy reading Nick Cafardo’s Sunday Baseball Notes in the Boston Globe even if it does have a slight Red Sox taint to it. Cafardo is a very good baseball writer. But one entry this weekend was disturbing. I know that there’s a strong possibility and very likely that new Miami Marlins CEO Derek Jeter will draw upon past relationships as he builds his new organization in Miami. Already, names like Gary Denbo and even GM Brian Cashman have been mentioned. Cafardo threw out a few more names of potential possibilities…Andy Pettitte, Tino Martinez, Jorge Posada and Mariano Rivera. Ugh, I really hope that this does not happen. While I may never have been a great fan of Jeter, he’s hitting on some names that I hold very dear within the Yankees history. I didn’t dislike Jeter when he was a Yankee (I appreciated his time in Pinstripes), but he wasn’t one of my favorites. The other names would be a little harder to accept (for me). It is tough enough watching Don Mattingly in a Marlins cap…
Credit: Getty Images
Have a great Monday! Let’s even this series! Go Yankees!
Here is a random wish list for pitching targets leading up to the trading deadline. I know that a couple of the names are untouchable. I guess if I am going without restriction, I should place Clayton Kershaw at the top of the list. Nevertheless, this is fantasyland so here’s my list. All of these pitchers are right-handers which really wasn’t by design. I wouldn’t even say that these are my top five choices. They are, however, five pitchers that I feel could provide an upgrade.
YU DARVISH – Texas Rangers
Darvish is 30 and will be an unrestricted free agent this fall. He is 4-2 with 2.76 ERA and 1.091 WHIP. With Tommy John surgery in his recent past, he’ll carry the injury risk tag for the res t7 of his career. Darvish is still one of the best pitchers in the AL. I loved the guy when he came over from Japan and wished at the time the Yankees had been more aggressive in pursuit of him.
It’s been said that Darvish could be the key to the team eventually signing Japanese superstar and two-way ace Shohei Otani, referred to as the Japanese Babe Ruth.
The downside to Darvish is his age (at this point of the Yankees rebuild and potential off-season cost to re-sign. You’ll obviously have to pay quality prospects for the potential short-term rental assuming the Texas Rangers are even motivated to trade him at the deadline.
CARLOS CARRASCO – Cleveland Indians
Carrasco is also 30. This is total fantasy as the Indians, a World Series caliber contender, are not going to part with a critical rotation piece. There’s no doubt the Yankees have long held interest in Carrasco. The right-hander is 4-2 this season with 2.60 ERA and 0.88 WHIP. He’ll be an unrestricted free agent in 2021.
CHRIS ARCHER – Tampa Bay Rays
Archer is 28 and is a better fit age-wise. But I think he’s untouchable for any AL team due to the heavy premium the Rays would attach to him to trade him inside the division. But if the Yankees could get him, I would be ecstatic. Archer is 3-2 this season with 3.70 ERA and 1.217 WHIP. He will be an unrestricted free agent in 2022.
JON GRAY – Colorado Rockies
If I could have my pick of any pitcher, it might be Gray. I am convinced the 25-year-old Gray is an ace-in-the-making. He’ll be held back from ever reaching his full potential as long as he calls the Mile High City his home. In a very small body of work this season, Gray is 0-0 with 4.38 ERA and 1.459 WHIP. He only pitched 12 1/3 innings before going on the disabled list with a stress fracture in his left foot. Gray has begun his bullpen sessions and will soon be back on the active roster for Colorado. He’ll be an unrestricted free agent in 2022.
Interestingly enough, Gray, like Pittsburgh’s Gerrit Cole, is a former Yankees draft pick. The Yankees picked him in the 10th round of the 2011 MLB Draft. He didn’t sign and was subsequently a number one pick for the Rockies the next year.
VINCE VELASQUEZ – Philadelphia Phillies
The youngest pitcher on my list (24), Velasquez is 2-3 this year with 5.63 ERA and 1.38 WHIP. Forget the stats, the guy has the potential to be a long term fixture in any team’s rotation. He’ll be an unrestricted free agent in 2022.
This isn’t meant to be a ranking of desired pitchers. I am just randomly throwing out some names. Granted, if any team’s first request is Gleyber Torres and is unwilling to budge, it’s discussion over. But Clint Frazier I am not as attached to. With Aaron Judge in the Majors with an assist by Aaron Hicks, and the promise of outfielder Dustin Fowler, I think the Yankees have the necessary ingredients for a good outfield now and for the next few years particularly considering a potential costly run at Bryce Harper in a couple of years when he hits the free agent market. My favorite outfield prospect, Blake Rutherford, is further away but he’ll be a ready replacement when the time comes. So, if I could package Frazier in a deal to bring a quality starting pitcher and maybe a dependable bullpen arm, I’d do it. Pittsburgh’s Gerrit Cole and Tony Watson represent a combo that would be worth the inclusion of a top prospect. And, no, Gerrit Cole is not Ivan Nova.
I am sure that we’ll be hearing many names ad nauseam over the next two months. But regardless of what happens, it will be much better to be a buyer at the trading deadline than a seller if the team keeps playing well. Exciting times in the Bronx.
The Yankees are hopeful that first baseman Greg Bird will be able to begin baseball activities next week. That’s good news to hear. Hopefully Bird has fully recovered and is ready to recapture the form he showed during Spring Training when he led the Grapefruit League in home runs. Bird has already started light running so it should be a sign that the ankle bone bruise has healed. I am looking forward to seeing what a healthy Bird can do.
The Yankees concluded their three-game stay in Kansas City with a loss, falling to the Royals 5-1. I knew they were in trouble when Danny Duffy struck out the first three batters of the game. Duffy threw a scoreless three-hitter over seven innings and recorded his first career double-digit strikeout total with ten. The Yankees scored their only run against KC closer Kelvin Herrera in the ninth inning on a Didi Gregorius single.
Jordan Montgomery (2-3) lasted five innings in taking the loss. He allowed four hits, five runs and three walks (with 4 K’s). The killer was a three-run homer by Mike Moustakis in the fifth inning. His replacement, Chad Green, was stellar in pitching the final three innings. He only gave up a meaningless single in the sixth, a runner subsequently erased by double play. He struck out six. It’s not outside of the realm of possibility that Green could replace Montgomery in the rotation.
|Credit: Elsa/Getty Images|
The Yankees (24-14) maintained their lead in the AL East over the Baltimore Orioles (1 1/2 games) and Boston Red Sox (4 games) as all three teams lost on Thursday. The Yankees did win the series, taking two of three, however, I always hate to see a loss on “Getaway Day” as that’s the game fresh on everyone’ mind for the flight to the next city.
The Yankees begin a three-game series in St Petersburg, Florida tonight against the Tampa Bay Rays (21-22). Here are the scheduled pitching match-ups:
Yankees: Luis Severino (2-2, 3.86 ERA)
Rays: Erasmo Ramirez (2-0, 2.92 ERA)
Yankees: Masahiro Tanaka (5-2, 5.80 ERA)
Rays: Matt Andriese (3-1, 3.18 ERA)
Yankees: CC Sabathia (3-2, 4.93 ERA)
Rays: Chris Archer (3-2, 3.70 ERA)
Have a great Friday! Hopefully Sevy finds a way to slay the Rays!