Photo Credit: New York Post (Charles Wenzelberg)
Despite team win, another dismal performance by Gray…
The Yankees are winning and I am mad.
Deeply disappointed might be a better description. Sonny Gray was supposed to be an upper rotation arm capable of delivering ace-like starts. To borrow an overused line from Brendan Kuty of NJ Advance Media for NJ.com, “Sonny was not Gray-t”. Sadly, we’re saying that after every not-so-Sonny start.
Based on five starts this season, he averages barely more than four innings per start, and has given up 18 runs in 21 innings. Sure, he lowered his ERA with yesterday’s start if you want to call 8.27 to 7.71 an improvement. He has walked 16 batters including five more last night.
I know that TGP’s Daniel Burch is a huge Sonny Gray fan but I can say…right now…I am not. He has yet to deliver a start that has made me say “Wow!”. Yet, every other member in the starting rotation has. Even the Yankees’ nearly 38 year old over-weight veteran with bad knees who has already lost time on the 10-day DL has delivered impressively.
Gray should have gotten the win in last night’s 7-4 victory over the Minnesota Twins after the Yankees had staked him to a 5-3 lead but he couldn’t get out of the fifth inning so the victory went to his replacement (Chad Green). For 14 outs, Gray threw 104 pitches with only 60 for strikes. You can’t blame this one on Gary Sanchez since it was Austin Romine behind the plate.
For his Yankees career, Gray is 5-8 with 4.69 ERA. He has given up 84 hits and 49 runs in 86 1/3 innings. His WHIP is an unsightly 1.471. He has been nowhere near the pitcher for the Yankees that he was with the Oakland Athletics. He is starting to feel a little too Javier Vazquez-ish for my comfort. A guy who pitches great in a low pressurized environment but has the ‘deer in the headlights’ look with the bright lights of the big city. Gray would probably be an ace for the Pittsburgh Pirates.
Until he can prove otherwise, he is “Sonny Gray Sucks” to me.
Meanwhile, the two pitchers connected to the Yankees in rumors during the off-season have gotten off to tremendous starts. Patrick Corbin, a lifetime Yankees fan, is currently 4-0 with a 1.89 ERA and a miniscule 0.66 WHIP (6 walks to 48 strikeouts in 33 1/3 innings). Daniel Burch did a great piece on Corbin yesterday and the Arizona Diamondbacks lefty should be on the Yankees radar when he becomes a free agent after the season. He’s a terrific potential replacement for CC Sabathia in the rotation. Gerrit Cole, whom I would have loved to have seen as a Yankee while many scoffed, is 2-1 with 1.29 ERA. His WHIP is slightly higher than Corbin’s at 0.771 but it is still very good. Cole has only walked 8 batters while striking out 49 in 35 innings.
Photo Credit: Associated Press (Mike Stone)
I want Gray to succeed as a Yankee. I really do. But I am getting tired of these pedestrian starts and his inability to throw strikes. His next start will be in Houston against the World Series Champions. He really needs to “man-up” and deliver like we know he can.
Okay, I’ll let it go for now.
As for the Yankees, I am very pleased with the overall performance of the team in recent days. With Didi Gregorius playing at All-World level, the Yankees have won five consecutive games to improve their season mark to 14-9. The Boston Red Sox won yesterday to stop their three-game losing skid, but the win dropped the Toronto Blue Jays into a second place tie with the Yankees in the AL East. Both are teams trail the Red Sox by four games. The standings certainly look much better today than they did a week ago.
I hate to see the current series with the Minnesota Twins end later today. Even if the Yankees lose, they will have won three of four before jumping a plane bound for Orange County, California. I’d prefer to keep the winning streak alive as the Yankees invade So-Cal. My love for ten-game winning streaks is only five games from fruition. Of course, if the Yankees win the next four games, it will pit Sonny Gray against Charlie Morton for the tenth win. Dammit.
Before I go, I do have to say that I think Logan Morrison really, really sucks. For him, I’ll borrow Derek Jeter’s words from his recent interview with Bryant Gumbel on HBO’s Real Sports. But unlike DJ, my use of the words is not light-hearted. Morrison is “mentally weak”. I know that the off-season was tough for all free agents, but there’s a reason it was hard for Morrison to find a job. The Tampa Bay Rays made no attempt to bring back a bat that slugged 38 home runs last year. Sure, money played into it but if Morrison was ‘all that and a bag of chips’, the Rays would have found a way to bring him back like the Kansas City Royals did in re-signing their 38 home run slugger, Mike Moustakas. Morrison’s comment about Yankees fans that “you can’t fix stupid” was actually a self-analysis on his own part. The guy’s a jerk. The Minnesota Twins are a classy organization and having such a degenerate on their roster is out of character for them.
I have no desire to see Morrison walk off the Yankee Stadium field a winner today. So, hopefully, Jordan Montgomery and company keep the winning streak alive. As long as Didi Gregorius is in the lineup, life is good.
Photo Credit: New York Post (Charles Wenzelberg)
Solid Hitting, Pitching and Defense…
The World always seems to be a better place the day after a Yankees win. Even better when the Yankees’ vaunted offense goes ‘Postal’ on the Minnesota Twins en route to the convincing 14-1 win. So much for Minnesota’s plans for the revenge game following their loss in last year’s Wild Card game to the Yankees. As a Vikings fan, I generally have a soft spot for Twins fans since we share a common alliance in football but all bets are off when they play the Yankees.
Photo Credit: Pioneer Press (Richard Marshall)
Miguel Andujar continued his consecutive game streak with extra-base hits to rub shoulders with none other than Mickey Mantle and Joltin’ Joe DiMaggio. The trio of two Hall of Famers and a rookie are the only Yankees under the age of 24 to have an extra-base hit in at least seven consecutive games. When the Yankees acquired Brandon Drury to be their third baseman during Spring Training, I was solidly in Camp Drury. But when Drury returns from the DL, there’s no way the Yankees can sit Andujar. With no offense to Todd Frazier (a player I loved as a Yankee), third base is in better hands with Andujar and Drury than it was Frazier and Chase Headley. The dilemma for Manager Aaron Boone will be how to make room on the roster for guys like Drury, Jacoby Ellsbury, Clint Frazier and Greg Bird when they are healthy. Actually, it’s GM Brian Cashman’s job but still, there are some difficult decisions awaiting the team on down the road.
The first major league hit is in the books for young future star Gleyber Torres. His single in the bottom of the eighth inning off Twins reliever Tyler Kinley halted an 0-for-7 skid to start his Major League career. Now that the first one is out of the way, Torres can settle in and play the game his way. I don’t know what was more exciting…Gleyber getting his first hit or Giancarlo Stanton’s 4-for-4 night with a home run, three runs scored and two RBI’s. Or the grand salami courtesy of The Shredder’s non-Top Ten shortstop, Didi Gregorius who continues to elevate his game to heights previously unimaginable.
Tyler Austin, Aaron Judge, Gary Sanchez, Brett Gardner, Aaron Hicks…so many Yankees that contributed to last night’s big win. And, oh by the way, Masahiro Tanaka did not suck. He held the Twins to three hits and a single run over 6 2/3 innings and 91 pitches. He struck out five Twinkies while walking only two. Not bad for a day’s work. Chad Green and David Hale finished off the game, keeping the Twins from adding any further runs.
Photo Credit: USA TODAY Sports (Brad Penner)
The Yankees are now 12-9 and have pushed themselves back to five games behind the division leading Boston Red Sox. They trail the second place Toronto Blue Jays by just a game. A few consecutive wins and everything looks rosy again. Of course, if they lose tonight against the Twins, it will be doom and gloom all over again. But for now, I am enjoying the win streak and hope it continues for the foreseeable future. I’ve always been a huge fan of ten-game winning streaks and there’s no time like the present to achieve one.
After holding the Twins scoreless over the final two innings last night despite allowing three hits, David Hale found himself in DFA limbo after the game. His roster spot was taken by former Washington Nationals right-hander A.J. Cole whom the Yankees acquired for cash considerations. All winter I wanted Brian Cashman to acquire RHP Cole. I guess I should have been more specific. Cole, 26, a former fourth-round pick, has been an occasional spot starter for the Nats and was scheduled to be their fifth starter this year until his performance forced the Nationals to replace him with veteran starter Jeremy Hellickson. His season line is horrific. He has given up 16 hits and 15 runs (including six homers) over 10 1/3 innings. He has walked six while striking out ten. It’s kind of funny. In his last appearance for the Triple A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre RailRiders, Hale gave up 12 hits and 6 runs. It earned him a promotion to the Bronx, where he gets his walking papers after pitching two scoreless innings. He is replaced by a guy who has been arguably worse. I guess the Yankees want Sonny Gray to feel like he isn’t the worst pitcher on the staff. To Cole’s defense, he has greater upside than Hale so I don’t necessarily have a problem with the move. But I hope pitching coach Larry Rothschild can fix whatever ails Cole’s pitches. At this point, he looks like a worse version of Bryan Mitchell, but who knows, maybe the Yankees see something in Cole that is not outwardly visible to the rest of us. Or maybe he’s just the next DFA candidate. I’d like to see Cole succeed. He’s still young enough to figure this thing out.
Photo Credit: Associated Press (Matt Slocum)
Tonight’s game features the Twins’ very talented young righty Jose Berrios (2-1, 1.63 ERA) pitching against crafty veteran CC Sabathia (0-0, 2.70 ERA). In his last start, Berrios held the Cleveland Indians scoreless with seven innings of work, allowing only three hits. In fact, he’s held three of his four opponents to three hits and no runs. The only blemish was an April 7th start against the Seattle Mariners when he was roughed up for five runs in 4 2/3 innings. It will be a tough game for the Yankees hitters but conversely it’s not going to be an easy one for Berrios.
The Gleyber Torres Watch is on…
I’ve seen conflicting reports about the calculation of MLB Service Time. After earlier reports that today could be the day, Ken Rosenthal of The Athletic clarified today is the first day that prospects not on the 40-man roster can be called up to ensure an extra year of control. According to Ken, players on the 40-man roster need to wait 20 days. So, the earliest Gleyber could show up for the Yankees would be next Thursday at home against the Toronto Blue Jays. Regardless of whether it is next week or in a couple of weeks, the Gleyber Torres Era will soon officially begin.
With no offense to Tyler Wade (since he currently has none), I am ready to move on from Wade as the team’s second baseman. I have no doubt Wade will be a legitimate big leaguer and he was fun to watch in Spring Training, but he has not done anything in the regular season to excite me. I know, he battled the flu and it’s been friggin’ cold in New York and Boston. But second base belongs to Gleyber. I’d rather take my lumps with Gleyber at the position than taking lumps for the future utility-man.
Photo Credit: New York Post (Charles Wenzelberg)
Through yesterday’s game, Gleyber Torres is the hottest hitter for the Scranton/Wilkes-Barre RailRiders. His batting line is .370/.379/.556 with .935. He has one home run and six RBI’s in seven games. Sure, it’s early and these numbers are not sustainable nor do they automatically translate to potential MLB numbers. Nevertheless, this is a very talented young man (as we all know) who has mastered his current level. Onward and upward. Soon, young Grasshopper. He’s already snatched the pebble from his master’s hand.
Wade is easily the weakest hitter, right now, on the Yankees. His line is .097/.176/.161 with .338 OPS, no homers, and three RBI’s in 10 games. Like Gleyber’s numbers, these are not sustainable (in Wade’s case, they will get better). Between Torres and Wade, give me Gleyber every day. I am tired of Wading. It’s Gleyber’s Time.
Photo Credit: AP (Lynne Sladky) – The Future Star
Like the entire Yankees Universe, I was very disappointed to lose two of three games in Boston. I am convinced the Yankees are the better team, but right now, the Red Sox are playing better. The season is still very young. The Yankees have only played 13 of 162 games and they have 16 games remaining against the hated Red Sox. The season is not lost on Friday the 13th of April.
I don’t really want to give a play-by-play of the brawl on Wednesday night, but after watching the replay of Tyler Austin sliding into second base (repeatedly, thanks to ESPN and others), I am firmly convinced Austin did not have the intent to harm. Yes, his foot caught Brock Holt’s leg but when you slow down the replay to say that Austin intentionally tried to take out Holt, it’s grossly unfair. The actual play happened very fast with no time to react. Austin was trying hard to get to second and his mind was more focused on the right foot sliding in. It’s unfortunate that Holt was unintentionally the recipient of cleats on his lower leg/ankle but it was a genuine baseball play with proper determination by Austin.
Photo Credit: Boston Globe – Austin sliding into 2B
As much as I dislike Joe Kelly and how he baited Austin after hitting him with the pitch, Red Sox manager Alex Cora infuriated me the most with his ‘get back in your box’ gesture to Yankees third base coach Phil Nevin. Cora showed himself to be a punk.
Photo Credit: USA TODAY Sports (Kim Klement) – “Piece of S**t”
I was glad Gary Sanchez held back this time to avoid a potential suspension. His bat is starting to heat up so it’s not one we want or can afford to lose. Nice job by Aaron Judge and Giancarlo Stanton for trying to control the situation. Those are definitely two guys that you’d want on your side in a bar room right.
MLB handed down suspensions and fines yesterday. Joe Kelly (six games) and Tyler Austin (five games) received suspensions. Both are expected to appeal. The fines included Phil Nevin, Alex (“Piece of S**t”) Cora, CC Sabathia, Dustin Pedroia, Xander Bogaerts, and Marco Hernandez. I do not know the amount of the fines but I appreciate Nevin and Sabathia for their roles in defending the Yankees.
Photo Credit: AP (Winslow Townson) – Yankees coaches Marcus Thames and Phil Nevin
I wish the Yankees could have left Boston yesterday with a win. Admittedly, I am concerned about Sonny Gray. Unlike the opposing pitcher (Rick Porcello), Gray did not bring his “A” game. Or as Brendan Kuty of NJ Advance Media said, “Sonny is not grayt”. Time and again, Gray has proven he gets into trouble when he nibbles instead of attacks hitters. So there he was nibbling last night and the team paid for it with a loss. At least Aaron Judge broke up the no-hitter and Gary Sanchez ruined the shutout, but I would have preferred to win two of three from Boston. Or really just winning the game after the fight would have been the best case scenario.
I really thought this season would show the return of Gray to top of the rotation dominance. He has had time to adjust to life in the Bronx and he’s healthy. Yet, against Boston, it feels like we’re throwing Jose Contreras out there again. He is 1-5 with a 5.97 ERA against the Red Sox, and 0-3 with a 7.13 ERA at Fenway Park. He’s dangerously encroaching into ‘Sonny Gray Sucks’ territory. I really hope warmer weather brings out the true Sonny Gray. At the moment, I am deeply missing James Kaprielian, Jorge Mateo and Dustin Fowler. Gray has the power to change my line of thinking. Next start would be a great time to start in more ways than one. We know that Gray can pitch exceedingly well. He just needs to show it in Pinstripes.
Photo Credit: AP (Winslow Townson) – A Bad Shade of Gray
No game is ever easy but the Yankees need to take advantage of the next five games. They play three games in Detroit, starting tonight, and then return to the Bronx on Monday for a two-game set against Giancarlo Stanton’s old team, the Miami Marlins. Win these games. If the Yankees can get on a roll, they should have good momentum heading into the four-game series next Thursday with the Blue Jays. It is the start of a brutal stretch that includes the Blue Jays (currently the second place team in the AL East), the Minnesota Twins (co-leaders of the AL Central), the Los Angeles Angels (the AL West leaders), and the Houston Astros (the defending World Series champions). These games are immediately followed with match-ups against the Cleveland Indians (the other co-leaders of the AL Central) and the next showdown against the Boston Red Sox, this time at Yankee Stadium. We’ll have a very good idea about the strength and resolve of the 2018 Yankees by the final game against the Red Sox on Thursday, May 10th.
For the upcoming series starting tonight at Comerica Park in Detroit, Michigan against the Tigers, here are the scheduled pitching matchups:
Friday the 13th, 7:10 ET
Yankees: Jordan Montgomery (0-0, 4.82 ERA)
Tigers: Mike Fiers (1-0, 0.00 ERA)
Saturday, April 14th at 1:10 ET
Yankees: TBA (expected to be Domingo German or Luis Cessa)
Tigers: Francisco Liriano (1-1, 2.13 ERA)
Sunday, April 15th at 1:10 ET
Yankees: Luis Severino (2-1, 3.50 ERA)
Tigers: Matthew Boyd (0-1, 1.38 ERA)
The Yankees currently have two players in DFA limbo. Jace Peterson, who was designated to make room for Shane Robinson, and Robinson, who was DFA’d for the activation of Aaron Hicks. Neither player figures in future plans so regardless of whether they clear waivers and are sent outright to Triple A, traded away or handed their walking papers, we appreciate their brief contributions. Best of luck in their future endeavors.
I’ll borrow a few words from TGP’s Daniel Burch. We need a win; let’s get a win.
|Photo Credit: Associated Press (Julie Jacobson)|
The Sky is Falling…
Unlike TGP’s fearless leader, Daniel Burch, I did not wake up in a happy, cheerful and loving mood. Sorry. I know, all things considered, things could be worse. But the last couple of days have not been enjoyable. We’re Yankees fans. We want and expect nothing less than complete dominance and success. The 2018 Yankees have a roster capable of playing, hit-for-hit and pitch-for-pitch, with the best teams in Major League Baseball. But while other teams revel in early success, the Yankees are getting off to a sluggish start.
I get it…we’re only eight games into the season and there are still 154 games to play (or the length of the regular season games when Babe Ruth and his friends played). It’s not the end of the World and there are many, many games before the AL East is decided.
The Yankees lost a heart-breaker last night in extra innings. The Baltimore Orioles took the second game of the series, thanks to a grand slam by catcher Caleb Joseph in the top of fourteenth inning, winning 7-3. Despite fighting back to tie the game multiple times, the home team could never take the lead and were inches from victory in the bottom of the eleventh when Orioles reliever Mychal Givens threw a wild pitch and Didi tried to score from third. Givens came sliding across the plate to block Didi and take the throw from catcher Caleb Joseph to tag the out.
|Photo Credit: Associated Press (Julie Jacobson)|
For those of you who feel Aaron Judge owns the Orioles, I’d have to counter Buck Showalter owns the Yankees…at least for the first two games of the season series. George Steinbrenner is probably rolling over in his grave.
The Yankees fell to 4-4 and trail the Boston Red Sox by 2 1/2 games in the AL East. The Red Sox are on a roll, winners of six straight while they ride their cream puff schedule. The Toronto Blue Jays are a game ahead of the Yankees. It’s early but so far the Red Sox and the Houston Astros appear to be the early class of the AL. The Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim have also started the season strong (Shohei Otani homered for the third consecutive game) and the improved Minnesota Twins, as expected, lead their division.
Last night’s loss was more costly than just the score. Four Yankees were pulled from the game for various ailments. CC Sabathia exited after four innings with a right hip strain, Brandon Drury was replaced by pinch-hitter Ronald Torreyes in the bottom of the sixth (Toe stayed in the game at third; we later learned Drury is suffering from migraine headaches and blurred vision), Neil Walker slid over to second base from first in the top of the ninth to replace Tyler Wade (suffering from the flu), and Gary Sanchez left the game during the fateful fourteenth inning with a leg cramp.
|Photo Credit: Associated Press|
The Yankees also checked on the health of closer Aroldis Chapman during a ninth inning visit by when it was observed that the Cuban Missile’s velocity was down. Chapman blamed it on a cold night.
An MRI after the game revealed no issues for Sabathia, however, the Yankees placed him on the 10-day DL earlier today. Drury was also placed on the disabled list. Jonathan Holder, the reliever on the mound when Caleb Joseph hit the game-winning grand slam for the Orioles last night, was optioned to Scranton/Wilkes-Barre. RHPs Domingo German and Luis Cessa (ugh!) were promoted to the big league club. Also, the Yankees signed IF/OF Jace Peterson to a Major League contract. Peterson was 1-for-4 with a strikeout in the RailRiders’ season-opening win last night. Peterson’s time with the Yankees appears to be over when Drury comes back since he’ll most likely be placed on waivers (rather than kept on the 40-man roster). It could end sooner given the expected return of OF Aaron Hicks in a few days.
Sabathia is only expected to miss one start. As for Drury, we won’t really know anything until Monday when he undergoes testing to determine the cause of the migraine headaches. An avowed Minnesota Vikings fan, it was frustrating for years when former Viking Percy Harvin struggled with migraines. I hope Drury’s problem is not as severe as the one that afflicted the very talented Harvin.
I haven’t figured out how this impacts the 40-man roster yet. The Yankees recently moved reliever Ben Heller to the 60-day DL which freed up a spot but the Yankees acquired third baseman Cody Asche. Even though Asche was optioned to Triple A, MLB.com is showing Asche on the 40-man roster. It would seem that something’s got to give to make room on the active roster for Peterson. I could be looking at this wrong. I’ve seen comments that the 40th spot was opened when the Yankees waived Trayce Thompson, who briefly took Heller’s spot, but that does not account for why MLB.com and the RailRiders website are showing Asche on the 40-man roster. Maybe Asche was never truly on the 40-man and the sites are in error. Who knows? The Yankees and MLB have this figured out so I don’t need to.
I am not happy about Cessa on the big league roster. He’s been my ideal DFA candidate for some time. I truly hope the Yankees use German over Cessa to make CC’s next start (which should be next Saturday). I’ve seen enough of Cessa to know that he is not a reliable starting pitcher. Let’s see how his stuff plays in limited spots in the bullpen. I’d rather take that chance over giving opposing teams multiple looks at the pedestrian pitcher when he is on the mound. German won me over with a very strong Spring so I’d like to see him get his first audition in the rotation.
Peterson, playing left field today, is not going to scare anybody with his bat.
|Photo Credit: USA TODAY Sports (Kim Klement)|
In the off-season, everybody (except maybe me) wanted Miguel Andujar as the starting third baseman for the Pinstripers. I wanted the Yankees to re-sign Todd Frazier and was subsequently supportive of the Drury acquisition. Well, here we are. Andujar is now your starting third baseman. This season, Andujar is 0-for-12 with no walks and four strikeouts. He is on the fast track to reach Kyle Higashioka’s 0-for-18 performance from last year. At least Higashioka managed to mix in a couple of walks and runs. I know, Andujar WILL hit. But obviously I’d prefer sooner than later. Never a better time to start than today.
Hopefully the Yankees can get into a groove and starting winning games. There are still two games to salvage at least a tie in the series with the O’s. Things will look much better if the Yankees can emerge from the weekend with a 6-4 record.
Here’s to hoping that today is a better day. Go Yankees!
|Photo Credit: Getty Images (Jim McIsaac)|
For one night, the answer is not G-R-E-E-N…
Well, so much for the thought (my thought anyway) that Chad Green is the lone bright spot in the Yankees bullpen. I know, that’s not fair to Aroldis Chapman, who has had very limited opportunities, or Dellin Betances, who actually was the best reliever last night. The Yankees held the lead in the game until the seventh inning when Masahiro Tanaka started to tire and gave up a two-run blast to Adam Jones. Tanaka stayed in the game, retiring Chris Davis on a grounder to third, but Tim Beckham ended his night with a single to right. If the Yankees bullpen could have held it from there, the Yankees might have been able to dig out of the one-run hole.
Alas, it was not meant to be. I guess you can chalk it up to ‘one of those nights’. Manager Aaron Boone brought in the usually reliable Chad Green. He did strike out two batters to get out of the inning but not before the Orioles hit a single, run-scoring double and two-run single to push three more runs across the plate.
|Photo Credit: Associated Press (Julie Jacobson)|
The Yankees had their chances but could not erase the large deficit. They picked up a run in the bottom of the seventh on a run-scoring single by Neil Walker after Didi Gregorius had doubled, but Miguel Andujar popped out with two men on and two outs to end the threat. The next inning, the Yankees had the bases juiced with two outs for Neil Walker, thanks to a walk and two batters hit by pitches. Unfortunately, Walker grounded out to the pitcher to eliminate the last serious threat. Sadly, the Yankees dropped the contest, 5-2, to fall to 4-3 and two games behind the Boston Red Sox in the AL East standings.
I was pleased to see the strong work by Dellin Betances in the top of the ninth inning when he struck out three batters despite allowing a meaningless walk.
|Photo Credit: New York Post (Charles Wenzelberg)|
Love or hate Buck Showalter, but he schooled Aaron Boone on the fine art of managing. I know, you can’t blame Boone for this loss but Showalter is the wise grandmaster in terms of the depth of managerial experience. You’ll never beat Showalter by out-managing him.
I always enjoy the work of Mike Axisa over at River Ave Blues. He had great perspective this morning. He said “Every team is going to win 50 games and lose 50 games each year. It’s what they do in the other 62 games that determines their fate. This is one of those 50 losses.” I agree with his assessment (as usual) but it is tough to take a loss on a night when the Boston Red Sox win.
Boston kills me. They have such a ‘cream puff’ schedule to start the year. They won their home opener yesterday against the Tampa Bay Rays, tying the game in the bottom of the ninth inning with two runs and then scoring the game winner in the bottom of the 12th. The Rays featured a starting pitcher that I’ve never heard of, Yonny Chirinos. He did a decent job, along with the subsequent relievers until closer Alex Colome took the bump. The Rays almost lost the game in regulation when second baseman Daniel Robertson took a grounder with a runner on first, bypassing the obvious and easy force out at second, to barely beat the runner to first. The play was challenged but the throw beat the runner by a split-second, sending the game into extra innings before the Rays ultimately lost. The takeaway for me is that other teams like to hand gifts to the Red Sox.
|Photo Credit: Boston Herald (Christopher Evans)|
Right now, Boston wins the games when they do not play well and the Yankees do not. I fully expect the Yankees to gel as a team but seven games into the season, we’re not there yet. I am not going to panic. There are still 155 games to play. Nobody is handing the Red Sox the AL East championship in April.
The Yankees look to rebound tonight when CC Sabathia takes the mound. He’ll face Greg Bird’s Colorado high school buddy, Kevin Gausman. Last year, CC was the man following a Yankees loss so hopefully the trend continues.
I was sad to see Trayce Thompson’s time with the Yankees was so short. I really like the guy even if he hasn’t put up the numbers to earn such support. Thompson was out of options when the Yankees claimed him on waivers earlier this week but they tipped their hand when Aaron Boone said that he’d start out in the minors. Thompson couldn’t go to the minors without clearing waivers and the Oakland A’s jumped at the chance to bring the brother of Klay Thompson, a star with Oakland’s Golden State Warriors to the Bay Area. Nice attempt by the Yankees to try to slide him through waivers but it failed like it did for the Dodgers. It’s nice for Klay who picks up a roommate to help pay bills (like he really needs the help). I wish Trayce the very best for success in Oakland, however, I think we’ll see him again soon on the waiver wire. For his sake, I hope not. I’d like to see him succeed.
The Yankees also made a depth move this week to acquire third baseman Cody Asche from the Kansas City Royals for a player to be named later or cash considerations.
|Photo Credit: Getty Images (Jennifer Stewart)|
Asche will take over third base for the Scranton/Wilkes-Barre RailRiders while Miguel Andujar toils in the Bronx. I really wanted the Yankees to acquire Asche several years ago. I am always on the lookout for the next Paul O’Neill (I guess I can modify it to say the next Didi Gregorius). I thought Asche had potential when he was with the Philadelphia Phillies as a young third baseman. Asche, 27, is a career .234 hitter in 390 MLB games so he clearly has not become the player I thought he would be. There’s no chance he’ll ever leap-frog over Andujar or Brandon Drury so for now he becomes a Triple A performer waiting to help in the event of injuries at the position for the big league club. No offense, Cody, but I hope we never see you in the Bronx. It’s not because we don’t like you…we simply prefer good health for Andujar and Drury.
Lastly, I am going to borrow the words of TGP’s Bryan Van Dusen: In summary, the 2018 New York Yankees are still a World Series contender. If you want to jump off the Yankees’ bandwagon, be my guest. There are still plenty more on board.
So Far, So Good…
Two games into the 162-game schedule and life in the Yankees Universe is fantastic. Okay, we’re not going to win every game and of course winning only 60% of the remaining games would be a stellar regular season but it’s fun to open the year with successive wins.
|Photo Credit: USA TODAY Sports (Kim Klement)|
The Opener was a perfect day for Yankees fans and new Manager Aaron Boone. It couldn’t have been scripted better with the superior work of ace Luis Severino, the bullpen (particularly Chad Green with three strikeouts against the four batters he faced), and the bat of Giancarlo Stanton. Stanton’s two home runs were the talk of the game but it was a great team victory from top to bottom. The only blemish was the solo home run that Dellin Betances allowed to Kevin Pillar when he entered the game in the bottom of the 8th en route to the 6-1 victory over the Toronto Blue Jays.
Yesterday’s game was a little tougher for Boone. The big guns (Aaron Judge, Stanton, and Gary Sanchez) were a combined 0-for-12 with four strikeouts, but in the end it did not really matter. Batting clean-up for the first time this season, Didi Gregorius was 2-for-3 with 2 runs scored on two extra-base hits. Getting thrown out at the plate with no outs was the only negative for an otherwise tremendous day for Sir Didi. The big bats belonged to the bottom of the order with the 8th and 9th hitters, Brandon Drury and Tyler Wade. Drury had two RBIs on a single and a double, while Wade had a two-run double. I groaned when Masahiro Tanaka gave up a home run (fortunately with the bases empty) to former St Louis Cardinal Randall Grichuk in the 2nd inning but it was only one of three hits Tanaka allowed over the course of 79 pitches and six innings of work. The Yankees won the game, 4-2, to earn no less than a split of the four-game series pending the outcome of the next two games in Toronto.
|Photo Credit: Getty Images (Tom Szczerbowski)|
What can you say about the debut performances of Luis Severino and Masahiro Tanaka? Collectively, they pitched 11 2/3 innings, allowing only 4 hits, one run, 3 walks, and 15 strikeouts. They’ve set the bar high for the rest of the starting rotation. I am sure that no one wants to be the first to implode.
The bullpen has been outstanding, as usual and as expected, despite the homer Betances gave up or the run-scoring double Aroldis Chapman allowed last night. Both guys were able to finish the job without assistance and will no doubt prove to be their dominant selves for the course of the long season. Chad Green, Tommy Kahnle, and David Robertson showed why this is Baseball’s best bullpen. I am sure that Chasen Shreve, Adam Warren and Jonathan Holder are itching for their 2018 premieres and should take the mound today and/or tomorrow.
I saw an interesting fact yesterday when it was mentioned that the Blue Jays featured more members of 2011 Yankees Opening Day lineup in their batting order than the Yankees did. Looking back at the March 31, 2011 game that saw Joba Chamberlain pick up the win in relief of CC Sabathia for the Yankees’ 6-3 win over the Detroit Tigers, the starting lineup featured the following guys:
Brett Gardner, LF (Yankees LF/CF)
Derek Jeter, SS (Marlins CEO)
Mark Teixeira, 1B (Retired, Baseball Analyst)
Alex Rodriguez, 3B (Retired, Baseball Analyst)
Robinson Cano, 2B (Mariners 2B)
Nick Swisher, RF (Retired, Highly Wired)
Jorge Posada, DH (Retired, Humanitarian)
Curtis Granderson, CF (Blue Jays LF)
Russell Martin, C (Blue Jays C)
This seems like so long ago. I enjoyed the Grandy Man and Martin during their time in Pinstripes but I am glad that they are Blue Jays today. Hopefully Sabathia picks up another win seven years later to the day.
|Photo Credit: Getty Images|
I am not going to read too much into a 2-0 start given that there are still 160 games to be played, but I am glad the Yankees are faring much better than the Los Angeles Dodgers. The Dodgers have opened the season by scoring no runs over 18 innings and have lost two heart-breaking 1-0 losses to one of baseball’s worst teams last season (the San Francisco Giants) on two solo homers by second baseman (and New York native) Joe Panik. While the Dodgers may not be “Paniking”, I’d rather be 2-0 than 0-2. Watching the Dodgers bat in the bottom of the 9th last evening showed how deep and special the Yankees lineup truly is. After the Giants had homered against Dodgers closer Kenley Jansen to take the lead in the scoreless battle, the Dodgers sent 39-year-old Chase Utley and Logan Forsythe to the plate in the bottom of the 9th for the rally attempt. Both Utley and Forsythe left their bats on their shoulders for called third strikes. Joc Pedersen, a good but inconsistent hitter, pinch hit for Jansen. He weakly popped up in foul territory to end the game. With no offense to the fine career Utley has had, I’d much rather have Brandon Drury and Tyler Wade at the bottom of the lineup any day of the week.
|Photo Credit: Getty Images|
It didn’t take too long for the Yankees depth to be tested. In a surprise move yesterday, the Yankees placed center fielder Aaron Hicks on the 10-day DL before the game with an intercostal muscle strain. Hicks was not happy with the move as he felt he’d be fine with a few days rest but the Yankees are notoriously conservative when it comes to potential injuries. It was a great story to see outfielder Billy McKinney get his unexpected Major League debut. He woke up in Tampa on Friday morning, thinking about the Scranton/Wilkes-Barre RailRiders season opener in a week, only to find out that he had a mid-day flight to Toronto to catch. By the end of the evening, he had collected his first Major League hit. I couldn’t help but think of Dustin Fowler’s horrific debut last year with the devastating knee injury, but the results were much better for McKinney. He was only 1-for-4 but it’s nice to get that first hit out of the way. He had a few good defensive plays in left as well. After the game, McKinney said that ball for the first hit would go to his parents. A very classy move by the 23-year-old.
MLB.com’s Bryan Hoch posted an interesting stat that McKinney is only the second Yankee since 1956 to make his MLB debut in the starting lineup within the first two games of the season. The last Yankee do it was Hideki Matsui on this date in 2003, also in Toronto against the Blue Jays. Like McKinney, Matsui had a hit in four at-bats but Godzilla did knock in a run in a game that saw Rogers Clemens defeat former Blue Jays great Roy Halladay.
McKinney’s stay with the big league club figures to be short. Jacoby Ellsbury is eligible to come off the DL next Thursday so it’s likely that McKinney will be playing in next Friday’s season opener for the RailRiders at PNC Field in Moosic, PA against the Syracuse Chiefs. But for now, McKinney gets to play and make an impression for our favorite team. It sure beats working out at Minor League Camp in Tampa. Welcome to the Show, Billy!
|Photo Credit: The New York Post (Corey Sipkin)|
For Yankees fans, like me, who had hoped Aaron Hicks would stay healthy for an entire season, it is not a great start. But at least it sounds like he’ll be able to return as soon as he is eligible. We’ll see. Hicks must prove he deserves our trust and support. As frustrated as I get with the health of Hicks, Jacoby Ellsbury, and Greg Bird, I feel badly for Toronto and their fans. Shortstop Troy Tulowitzki remains one of the game’s best but the guy can’t stay on the field. Every year, it’s something. The latest setback was this week when it was announced that Tulo would need surgery on both ankles to remove bone spurs. Very sad for the talented player who can’t seem to get or stay healthy. So, I guess the Yankees are not the only team to get Ellsbury’d on a routine basis.
Great tweet by Brendan Kuty of NJ Advance Media this morning: “I mean, how do you bet against Aaron Boone? He’s never lost.” True statement.
|Photo Credit: Getty Images (Tom Szczerbowski)|
Today, CC Sabathia takes the mound against Blue Jays fan favorite Marco Estrada. I guess you could say that it is a battle of former Milwaukee Brewers. May the 6’6” left-hander and 2008 Brewer emerge victorious!
|Photo Credit: The Record (Kevin R Wexler)|
However, the End Result is all that matters…
Despite fielding a team with primarily high numbers (on their jerseys; not their stats), the Yankees accomplished the objective on Saturday. Beat the Red Sox. The Yankees came away from their only visit to JetBlue Park in Fort Myers, FL with a 5-3 victory. I know, it means nothing but as I said yesterday, I wanted to beat the Red Sox regardless of the significance of the game. Hanley Ramirez, who promised the Red Sox Nation that they’d “step on everybody’s neck” when the Sox signed J.D. Martinez, was 0-for-3, with a strikeout.
Since the game was televised by the MLB Network and it was at Boston’s ballpark, we were subjected to the NESN broadcast crew of Dave O’Brien, Tim Wakefield and Steve Lyons. Maybe it was just me, but I found their telecast to be one of the most myopic experiences that I’ve ever witnessed. If you believed what you heard (no worries, I did not), you would come away thinking the Red Sox are an extraordinary team, made more powerful with the presence of J.D. Martinez, while the Yankees have numerous questions and are a “one-dimensional team”. They also took shots at CC Sabathia for no reason, leaving you with the impression that CC is held together by duct tape. I didn’t mind the guests they featured regarding the Red Sox Foundation and other notable causes, but it seemed like they disregarded the game at times and it was as if the NESN broadcasters knew nothing about the Yankees players in the game. As Charles Barkley would say, “That’s turrible”. I am not impressed by NESN or the Red Sox.
Miguel Andujar continued his hot hitting. He didn’t start the game but entered later as a replacement for Brandon Drury. His eighth-inning single scored Jeff Hendrix with an insurance run after the Yankees had taken a one-run lead on the Sox. The day was an enjoyable experience for Andujar who got to meet one of his childhood heroes, former Red Sox slugger David Ortiz. Although Andujar and Ortiz are both from the Dominican Republic, I was not aware they were from the same hometown. No wonder Andujar emulates Big Papi’s swing.
The Yankees improved to 8-1, best in the Grapefruit League. Today, they’ll face an old friend in Nathan “Nasty Nate” Eovaldi and the Tampa Bay Rays. Nick Solak, one of the Yankees prospects involved in the trade for Brandon Drury, will start at second base for the Rays.
Here is the scheduled lineup for the Yankees at home in Tampa against the visiting Rays (sorry, I always find humor in that statement):
Brett Gardner, CF
Aaron Judge, RF
Giancarlo Stanton, LF
Gary Sanchez, C
Brandon Drury, DH
Danny Espinosa, 3B
Billy McKinney, 1B
Ronald Torreyes, 2B
Tyler Wade, SS
Chad Green will be the starting pitcher. Aroldis Chapman is also scheduled to pitch.
Russell Wilson left camp today but gave the players signed NFL footballs before his departure. Even though I am not a Seahawks fan, I knew that Wilson was a great guy. But his time in Training Camp and his words left me with the greater perception that his character exceeds his talent, which is no small task. I remain convinced that his time at Steinbrenner Field was a worthwhile experience although he struck out in his lone at-bat. His winning attitude and desire to be great is infectious. I think the Yankees players learned a great deal from the champion QB.
Clint Frazier was held out from workouts on Saturday but fortunately, his MRI on Friday came back clean. He’ll meet with a doctor today. Hopefully this not more serious than it appears to be and he’ll be back on the field in the not-so-distant future. Jacoby Ellsbury remains sidelined with the right oblique strain which is fine. That’s certainly one injury you don’t want to rush given the risk of further setback if you try to come back too soon.
Recent photos of Chase Headley and Dustin Fowler are the latest evidence the Yankees should revisit their facial hair policy. I am not a fan of the wild Justin Turner look, but cleanly groomed beards should be acceptable.
Randy Miller of NJ Advance Media for NJ.com has a very nice write up this morning about my favorite Yankees pitching prospect (with no offense to Justus Sheffield or Chance Adams). Albert Abreu, recovering from recent emergency appendectomy surgery, should be able to resume his throwing program soon. It will be fun to watch this very talented right-hander continue his ascent through the Yankees farm system. I am a huge Abreu fan and I look forward to the day he takes the mound at Yankee Stadium.
|Photo Credit: Getty Images (Elsa)|