Tagged: CC Sabathia

The Rookies Have Been Judged…

Credit:  Rich Schultz/Getty Images

Live from New York, it’s The Aaron Judge Show!

Aaron Judge has been named AL Rookie of the Month for April.  He becomes the fourth Yankee to win the award.  The previous winners were Hideki Matsui (June 2003), Robinson Cano (September 2005), and Gary Sanchez (August 2016).

For the month, Judge was a little busy:

  • 1st in AL with 23 runs, .750 SLG
  • Tied for 1st in AL with 10 home runs
  • Tied for 5th in AL with 20 RBI’s

Judge was also the leader with exit velocity.  His homer off Greg Bird’s high school buddy, Kevin Gausman of the Baltimore Orioles, on April 28th had an exit velocity of 119.4 mph.  He was also seventh in the AL with the longest home run (457 feet).  I still expect Judge to top 500 feet at some point.  The current major league leader is Jake Lamb of the Arizona Diamondbacks at 481 feet.  

I have not really had a favorite Yankee since Mariano Rivera retired but I am certainly a huge fan of Judge.  I just can’t decide who I like better…Judge or Gary Sanchez.  Well, I’d have to put Aroldis Chapman into the group as I’ve always loved a great closer dating back to the Rich “Goose” Gossage days, or maybe even Sparky Lyle.  All I know is that Judge and Sanchez are incredibly fun to watch.  Looking forward to getting the band back together this weekend when Sanchez returns from the DL.  

Congrats to Aaron for the AL Rookie of the Month Award.  I will really go out on a limb and say this is the first of many awards for the talented young slugger.  Seriously, I thought he was going to be good when he figured this level out but I was never expecting this type of performance.  There’s no way he can sustain it (can he?) but for now I’m enjoying the ride!

I was reading some columns on The Bleacher Report yesterday and I came across one that referenced the single thing every team should do right now.  For the Yankees, it was cutting Tommy Layne and promoting Luis Cessa.  I have to admit that I am probably on board with cutting Layne.  After his release by the Boston Red Sox last year, he did a decent job for the Yankees.  He was 2-0 with a 3.38 ERA in 16 innings pitched.  He gave up 10 hits, 6 runs, 7 walks, and struck out 13.  His WHIP was 1.063.  This year, at least for his last few outings, he’s been touched for runs.  He is currently carrying a 6.00 ERA in 6 innings pitched.  He has allowed 9 hits, 4 earned runs, and 3 walks.  He has struck out 7.  The innings aren’t sufficient to give great credibility to his WHIP but it is presently very high at 2.00.  Bottomline, Tommy Layne is what he is.  He will never be Andrew Miller and he is not a pitcher with great upside.  He’s replaceable.  The Yankees currently have a better lefty on the 25-man roster in Chasen Shreve.  I have no problem with cutting Layne loose to free up a spot on the 40-man roster.  As for who should take Layne’s place, I would not have any issues with Cessa.  I like him and think he provides a good option for long relief and rotation insurance as a potential back-end starter.  I remain a Bryan Mitchell fan, and there are probably a couple of other pitchers on the Scranton/Wilkes-Barre roster that I could buy into over Layne.  

I feel every youth movement is best served with a combination of veterans and young talent.  If the veterans perform, they should stay.  If they don’t, I’d have no problems showing them the door.  But then again, I don’t write the checks.  I am tired of uneven and at times horrific play from overpaid, aging veterans.  I started to buy into the early season results of CC Sabathia but his last few starts have only reaffirmed that he is clearly no longer the pitcher he once was.  I am ready to move on.  I’d rather see a young pitcher learn at the Major League level like Jordan Montgomery is currently doing than pay an aged veteran who is just collecting paychecks until contract expiration or release.  CC has been great in the clubhouse but there are other guys who can rise to the challenge. I am more tolerant of mistakes by a young player who is learning than a veteran showing signs of decay.  

Credit:  Bill Kostroun/AP

Speaking of Sabathia, the results were not pretty on Wednesday night.  Before the Yankees had even picked up a bat, CC had put the team in a 4-0 hole against the Toronto Blue Jays.  Justin Smoak delivered a run-scoring single in the top of the first inning and Steve Pearce, who had two homers the night before, followed with a three-run home run.  Fortunately, the Yankees answered quickly as Matt Holliday hit his 300th career home run in the bottom of the frame, driving in three runs.  It seemed like it wasn’t going to be the Yankees’ night when the Blue Jays scored two more runs in the second inning to go up 6-3.  But these are the new and improved Yankees and when the April AL Rookie of the Month came to the plate with Starlin Castro on first base in the third inning, it was a one run game again as Judge sent a Marcus Stroman offering 426 feet over the center field wall.  Fortunately, Sabathia would not allow further damage although he was gone after just four innings.  His line for the night:  4.0 IP, 7 H, 6 R/ER, 4 BB, 5 SO.  In just two games, Sabathia’s ERA has gone from 2.70 to 5.45.  Sabathia pitched to two batters in the top of the fifth without recording an out, giving up a walk and a single.  Adam Warren came in and stopped the potential Jays rally.

In the bottom of the seventh, the Yankees scored three runs to take the lead.  Two run scoring singles and a bases loaded walk put the Yankees up 8-6.  They could have gotten more runs, but Matt Holliday hit into a fielder’s choice with the bases loaded to end the inning.  At that point, the game was in the hands of the dynamic duo, Dellin Betances and Aroldis Chapman.

The Blue Jays didn’t threaten in those final two innings, although the game’s final batter, Russell Martin, had the benefit of four strikes before ending the game.  The umps missed a call when Martin swung and missed for an apparent third strike which subsequently bounced off his shoulder.  It should have been game over, but was not.  It took two more Chapman pitches, but the last one gave the Yankees closer his sixth save of the season.  The Yankees win, 8-6.  

Thanks to another Boston Red Sox victory over Baltimore Orioles, the Yankees (17-9) took sole possession of first place in the AL East.  There seems to be much bad blood in Boston between the O’s Manny Machado and the Red Sox.  I can’t help but think this plays into the Yankees’ hands for when Machado becomes a free agent in a couple of years.  There’s nothing better than beating the Red Sox wearing pinstripes.   

Today is an off day as the Yankees make their way to Chicago.  TV is going to be so boring tonight.  I have really gotten used to watching The Aaron Judge Show every day.  I guess I’ll just have to look forward to Friday afternoon when Michael Pineda takes the mound agains the Cubs.

Have a great and restful Thursday!

Mystique & Aura Were Dancing The Night Away…

Credit:  Adam Hunger/Getty Images

Despite CC Sabathia pitching like this is truly his final year in Pinstripes, the Yankees staged a very improbable and dramatic comeback to beat the Baltimore Orioles on Friday night.  

Mark Trumbo’s grand slam in the sixth inning off reliever Bryan Mitchell had me switching channels to check out what was happening with the NFL Draft.  At 9-1, I was fairly confident the Yankees would be falling to two games behind the O’s in the AL East standings when the night was done.  Fortunately for me, none of the current 25 men on the Yankees roster shared my opinion.  

Yesterday before the game, I read this observation about CC Sabathia on a Yankees blog site:

“It’s hard to judge CC Sabathia, seeing as how he’s a different pitcher than he was just a couple of years ago. However, I believe his final ERA this season will be closer to 5.00 than it will be to 3.00 (he’s currently at 2.70).”

While I agreed with the comments, I just didn’t expect it to come true on a single night.  By the time CC was pulled last night in the sixth inning, his season ERA had ballooned from the aforementioned 2.70 to 4.34.  CC’s line was very ugly…5 2/3 innings, 9 hits, 7 runs, 2 home runs.  It doesn’t matter that he managed to strike out 6 batters.  It was an awful night for CC and most nights, it would have been one for the “L” column.

Although the Yankees scored three runs in the bottom of the sixth, which included a two-run homer from Aaron Judge, to close the gap to 9-4, it looked like the Orioles were going to have a monster inning in the seventh.  They scored a couple more runs off Mitchell to push their lead to 11-4 and had the bases loaded with one out.  In perhaps the best pitching performance of the night, Jonathan Holder came on to thwart the O’s and the end the inning without further damage by retiring the always dangerous Manny Machado and slugger Mark Trumbo.  

When Jacoby Ellsbury hit his first career grand slam in the bottom of the seventh to bring the score to 11-8, it still felt like it was too little too late but the door was cracked.  It was a game again.  Coming into the bottom of the ninth, it still felt like the 11-8 score was too much to overcome.  With elite closer Zach Britton on the Disabled List, the O’s had to go to Brad Brach for the attempted save.  After picking up a run on a force-out, Starlin Castro launched an improbable game-tying two-run home run from his knees.  

The game moved into extra innings and Aroldis Chapman held the O’s in check in the top of the 10th despite allowing a single to Mark Trumbo.  He racked up his second strike-out of the frame by ending the O’s threat on a called third strike to Chris Davis.  

Enter bottom of the tenth.  Orioles reliever Jayson Aquino came on to replace Brach, and proceeded to walk the first two batters (Aaron Hicks and Kyle Higashioka).  Chase Headley had an opportunity to be the hero but struck out swinging as he chased a few high pitches.  Next up, Matt Holliday, a member of the New York Yankees for a grand total of 21 games.  Aquino opted to throw a soft change-up to Holliday with his first pitch.  Big mistake.  Game over.  Yankees win, 14-11.  Wow, games don’t get much more exciting than this.  For new players to the Bronx, there is often a long adjustment period.  For Holliday, he decided that patience is not a virtue and decided to go ahead and carve his own piece of history into the hallowed grounds of Yankee Stadium three weeks into his new Pinstriped career.  It was an incredible game.

The Yankees and Orioles are tied for the AL East Lead with 14-7 records entering today’s action.  I know, it’s still early and it is a long season, but this Yankees team is very fun.  It’s been fun since the trading deadline last year and has continued.  Aaron Judge ended up hitting two home runs on the night which I didn’t really address in this post.  He is rapidly becoming ‘must-watch’ with every at-bat.  Matt Holliday’s accolades for Judge were overflowing in his post-game comments.  We are clearly watching the blossoming of a Yankees superstar before our eyes.  Had Judge homered in the bottom of the ninth instead of walking, this game would have been on continual replay on the YES Network.  

Have a great Saturday!  It will be tough to top Friday night, but let’s take this series today.  Go Yankees!

Resumption of Baseball’s Greatest Rivalry…

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Credit:  Bain News Service/Library of Congress

As the New York Yankees and the Boston Red Sox get set to begin the latest chapter in their long, intense rivalry, I thought I’d look back.  The first official game pitting the New York Yankees against the Boston Red Sox occurred on April 14, 1913 at Fenway Park in Boston.  The Yankees organization began play in the American League in 1901 but they were known as the Baltimore Orioles (no relation).  After two years, the team ceased operations and was purchased by Frank Farrell and Bill Devery.  The new owners moved the franchise to New York, and gave the team the nickname of the Highlanders.  Although they would affectionately become known as the Yankees in subsequent years, the name was not officially changed until 1913.

Similarly, the Red Sox went through several  name changes from the time of their inception (also in 1901).  They were known as the Boston Red Stockings and the Boston Americans before the name was changed to the Red Sox following the 1907 season.

So, although the two organizations have duked it out since 1901, the Yankees-Red Sox rivalry, by those names, didn’t officially begin until 1913.

Sadly, the Boston won the first Yankees-Red Sox game, 2-1, behind the four-hit pitching of Smoky Joe Wood.  He struck out nine batters while pitching a complete game (but didn’t they all back then).  The Yankees starter, Ray Caldwell, also went the distance, giving up eight hits and two runs.  The Red Sox scored the winning two runs on a double by left fielder Duffy Lewis.

For the inaugural game, the Yankees lineup featured the following players:

  • Bert Daniels, RF
  • Harry Wolter, CF
  • Roy Hartzell, 3B
  • Birdie Cree, LF
  • Hal Chase, 2B
  • Dutch Sterrett, 1B
  • Jeff Sweeney, C
  • Ralph Young, SS
  • Ray Caldwell, P

Of the names, Hal Chase is the one that stands out to me.  “Prince Hal” was primarily a first baseman and is credited with being the first star of the Highlanders/Yankees.  Babe Ruth considered him to be the best first baseman ever, but that was obviously before the days of Lou Gehrig.  Despite his excellent reputation as a baseball player (he was a smooth fielder), his name was tied with corruption for alleged involvement in gambling on baseball games and suspicious play in order to throw games.  Chase would be traded to the Chicago White Sox on June 1, 1913 for Babe Borton and Rollie Zeider.

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It’s a sad tale in the long, storied history of the Yankees franchise.  As late sportswriter Fred Lieb said in describing Chase, “What a waste of skill and artistry.  He could think and move like a flash. Nature fitted him out to be a superstar.  But alas!  As Jim Price (then sports editor for The New York Press) told me in 1911, ‘He was born with a corkscrew brain’”.  It’s unfortunate that Chase went down that path.  He could have ensured a place in Cooperstown with his play, but his actions prevented entry to the Hall of Fame.  He was remorseful in later years, but no one really knows how many games were lost because of his deceit.

New York would win the next day (April 15, 1913) against the Red Sox, 3-2, behind the pitching of Ray Keating for their first Yankees victory in the passionate rivalry.

The Yankees had entered the 1913 season as a team with promise.  They were led by well known player/manager Frank Chance, but for various reasons and probably most importantly the games thrown by Chase, the Yankees finished seventh in the American League with a 57-94 record.  They escaped the cellar by one game over the St Louis Browns.  Chance would later manage the Red Sox for a single season in 1923.

If we go back to the first ever game between the two franchises, the Baltimore Orioles beat the Boston Americans, 10-6, on April 26, 1901.  In 1901, Boston was a two-team city.  The National League team was known as the Boston Beaneaters.  I am sure that all of us have coined various nicknames on Boston over the years, but it would be hard to take any team seriously called the “Beaneaters”.  I guess I wouldn’t want to follow them.

Since those early games, the Yankees have compiled a 1169-973 against the Red Sox.  Their biggest victory occurred on June 19, 2000 when the Yankees pounded the Red Sox, 22-1 (scoring 16 runs in the final two innings, capped with a three run homer by Scott Brosius).  Currently, the Yankees have a three game winning streak against the Red Sox, thanks to a three-game sweep late last September.

In the all-important category, the Yankees lead the Red Sox in World Series championships, 27-7.

For the three game series in Boston, the pitching match-ups will be:

  • Today:  Luis Severino (1-1) versus AL Cy Young winner Rick Porcello (1-2)
  • Wednesday:  Masahiro Tanaka (2-1) versus Boston ace Chris Sale (1-1)
  • Thursday:  CC Sabathia (2-1) versus Drew Pomeranz (1-1)

The only ex-Yankee we will see this series is former Yankees fourth outfielder Chris Young.  The former BoSox players on the Yankees roster are reliever Tommy Layne center fielder Jacoby Ellsbury.  Austin Romine’s dad, Kevin, is a former Red Sox outfielder.

Of all the Yankees rivalries, there’s no doubt I enjoy Yankees-Red Sox the most.  It’s funny… I hate them the most, yet I prefer them over the Baltimore Orioles (modern version), Toronto Blue Jays, and Tampa Bay Rays.  I’m sure that doesn’t make any sense.  The Red Sox are a team that I love to hate, but my respect for the team and the organization has always been strong.  When the Yankees win by beating good Red Sox teams, it makes winning that much sweeter.  Somehow, when the Yankees are winning  and the Red Sox are not, it’s just not the same.  One of my favorite quotes is ‘to be the best, you have to beat the best’.

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Have a great Tuesday!  Let’s get this three game series started right!  Sevy, dominate the night!

 

Gloom, Despair and Agony…

Okay, it was not quite that bad.  Still, it was a disappointing loss.  It would have looked so much different if Greg Bird had homered in the third instead of pulling it foul.  He had another chance to do damage in the fifth, but was unable to push any runs across (although he did reach on a fielding error which allowed Jacoby Ellsbury and Aaron Judge to score).  He finished the night 0-for-4, dropping his batting average to .122.  When he does start hitting, he’ll quickly become a fan favorite.  

The Yankees lost to the Pittsburgh Pirates, 6-3, and fell 1 1/2 games behind the Baltimore Orioles.  The O’s beat the Boston Red Sox, 2-0, behind a stellar pitching performance by Dylan Bundy.  With the Red Sox loss, the Yankees maintained their slight hold on second place.

This was a winnable game.  Even though it was an off-night for starter CC Sabathia, he kept the team in the game and lasted five innings.  We cannot expect the vintage Sabathia every outing.  He is, after all, a 36 year old who had to reinvent himself.  This is not 2009 even if he lulled us into that thinking with his first couple of starts.

It’s hard to put a finger on any single reason for the loss.  Bird’s slow start.  Sabathia’s underwhelming performance.  Chase Headley’s base running skills.  Starlin Castro’s fielding.  Aaron Judge’s six men left on base.  It was just one of those nights.  Shoulda, coulda, woulda…but it didn’t happen.

Oh well, today is a new day.  Michael Pineda takes the mound against Pittsburgh’s talented young righthander, Jameson Taillon.  Pineda will need to bring his ‘A’ game but if he has truly turned the corner, I am sure he will.  With Baltimore and Boston looming next week, the Yankees cannot afford to stumble in the Steel City.  

Let’s re-set this post’s image…

The Yankees need to figure out a way to get Aaron Hicks into the lineup.  Limited to pinch hitting, he did single in the eighth last night.  I hate rehashing why the Yankees should trade Brett Gardner, but I keep watching the San Francisco Giants and their troubles with left field.  Their starting left fielder, Jarrett Parker, is out for a couple of months with a broken right clavicle.  They signed Melvin Upton, Jr to a minors deal following his release by the Toronto Blue Jays, but he had surgery to repair a torn ligament in his thumb so he is down for a couple of months too.  In last night’s loss to the Colorado Rockies, they were playing journeyman Chris Marrero who has struggled to find a home in the Majors for the last few years.  Marrero did homer but he is only batting .152 (5-for-33).  I’ve always thought Gardner would be a good fit in San Francisco.  The Giants have the prospects for a match.  The “reach for the sky” choice would be 23-year-old RHP Tyler Beede, but GM Brian Cashman would have to include more than Gardner to make it happen.  Gardner would be easier to trade if he wasn’t hitting only .192.  His bat will come around so when it does, Cashman should get Giants EVP-Baseball Operations Brian Sabean or GM Bobby Evans on the phone to strike a deal.

Credit:  Getty Images

It’s good to see shortstop Didi Gregorius in rehab games.  On Friday night, he was 2-for-3 with six innings of work for the High A Tampa Yankees.  He’s on track to return to the Bronx the beginning of May.  I am sure that he’s motivated to be back for the two game series in Cincinnati beginning on May 8th as the Reds are his original team.  Of course, that’s also true for a certain flame-throwing closer as well as a YES Network announcer who proudly wore #21 in the Bronx for a few years.

Speaking of numbers, Rickey Henderson, Tino Martinez, and Robinson Cano should be very pleased to hear that their former MLB jersey has cracked the top 10 for most popular jerseys sold…thanks to Gary Sanchez.  According to MLB.com, Sanchez has the ninth most popular jersey, ahead of the Los Angeles Angels star outfielder, Mike Trout.  There were four Cubs, two Dodgers, two Giants, and no Red Sox in the Top 8.  

Have a great Saturday!  Yankees, just bring it!  We want one for the win column!

O Say Can You CC…

I have to admit that I wasn’t a believer.  I did not think that CC Sabathia could make the transformation from a young dominant power pitcher to a crafty veteran at the top end of a starting rotation.  Weight issues, age, injuries, alcoholism…whatever the cause…I didn’t think he could do it.  He has proved me wrong.  

After Saturday’s 3-2 win over the St Louis Cardinals, Sabathia leads the team with a 2-0 mark, compiling a 1.47 ERA in 18 1/3 innings with 11 strikeouts.  While the most dominant single game belongs to Michael Pineda, Sabathia has been the most dominant overall.  

I had gotten to the point where I thought of Sabathia as a five inning starter.  Yet, here he was on the mound on April 15, 2017 at 36 years of age, throwing 7 1/3 innings, allowing only three hits and one run with just one walk.  He punched out six.  THAT was not the Sabathia that we had come to expect in recent years.  

I am so glad that he has been able to make the transformation.  I don’t know if it is the time he has spent with Yankees legend Andy Pettitte but we tend to hear Pettitte’s name come up a lot in interviews with not only Sabathia but other pitchers when they talk about success.  Pettitte’s annual visits to training camp for a few days always seem to have such a tremendous impact.  I think Pettitte is an assistant on a high school coaching staff these days, but I would love for his return to New York as an eventual successor to Larry Rothschild.  

At the beginning of the year, I felt it was obvious this would be Sabathia’s final year in Pinstripes.  With the youth movement in full bloom, I didn’t see a future for Sabathia or a veteran’s salary in Team Hal’s budget for 2018.  If Sabathia expects to make his 2017 salary ($25 million) next year, I still think it’s unlikely he returns.  He’ll have to take a pay cut to stay and perhaps he will.  But for now, I am just enjoying the ride.  I love watching Sabathia’s accomplishments this year, and I know that he is a huge influence on the younger pitchers.  If Sabathia, Pineda and Severino can continue pitching like their most recent starts, this is definitely a team that can outperform expectations in 2017.  Of course, Greg Bird does need to start mixing in a hit or two.

I was reading an interview with Jordan Montgomery this morning.  Or should I call him “Gumby”?  I had to laugh when I saw him refer to the famous Serendipity 3 on 60th Street as “some dessert place”.  Give him time.  He’ll figure the City out.   If he keeps pitching like we know he can, he’ll be here for a very long time.  

With the inability of Matt Holliday to play on Saturday due to lower back stiffness, I hope this is not a sign of things to come.  His final years with the Cardinals, while he was still playing in the field, came with significant DL stints. I had hoped the ‘DH-only’ role would help preserve his health.  Hopefully, this is just an aberration and he’ll back with bat in hand shortly.  The loss of Holliday did show the significance of having Chris Carter on the roster as Carter provided what proved to be the winning run in Saturday’s game with a run-scoring single in the sixth inning.  

As for Greg Bird, he needs to figure this out soon.  His 1-for-26 start is dreadful.  I remain hopeful that he’ll work through the challenge and will start to hit like he did in Spring Training.  He is too much of a professional hitter for the current sample to be representative of his ability going forward. No offense to Chris Carter, but I strongly prefer Bird at first in any scenario.  I wish that Tyler Austin was closer to returning but he’s not an option for now and there’s no one else in the organization that would be superior to the current duo of Bird and Carter.  Rob Refsnyder is only hitting .192 in AAA and Ji-Man Choi is not on the 40-man roster.  Choi is batting .280 but he has only 2 RBI’s and no home runs.  

I hate to be politically-incorrect, but the words of former Arizona Diamondback Mark Grace resonate in my ears when I think of Bird’s slump.  “A slumpbuster is if a team’s in a slump, or if you personally are in a slump, you gotta find the fatest, gnarliest, grossest chick and you just gotta lay the wood to her. And when you do that, you’re just gonna have instant success. And it could also be called jumping on a grenade for the team.”  Bird, just do it…take one for the team.

Have a great Sunday!  Hopefully, it will be a sweeping success for the Yankees!

So Much For Your Promises…

As Jordan Blackmon Montgomery prepares for his first Major League start later today, the Shattered Dreams Award must reside with reliever Tyler Webb.  Webb had been selected in the Rule 5 Draft by the Pittsburgh Pirates last December.  As a lefty, he stood a decent chance of making the Pirates roster.   His Spring numbers for the Pirates were legit.  In 13 innings pitched over the course of 8 games, he did allow 13 hits and 4 runs (2.77 ERA), but he walked only one and struck out 11.  However, he lost the roster battle to former Yankee (and fellow left-hander) Wade LeBlanc and was returned to the Yankees organization. 

Back with the Yankees and not on the 40-man roster, Webb was assigned to AAA Scranton/Wilkes-Barre.

On Sunday, in the second game of a double header with the Buffalo Bisons, Webb replaced starter Joe Mantiply for the RailRiders with two outs and two on in the bottom of third inning.  He struck out Rowdy Tellez to end the threat.  So far, so good.  The next inning started nicely, with the RailRiders nursing a 3-0 lead, as Webb struck out the first batter.  Then, unfortunately, the wheels came off.  When Webb was pulled from the game after two outs in the bottom of the fourth, he had allowed six singles and a double.  The Rail Riders had scored 6 runs to take the lead.  Webb did strike out the last batter he faced (Rudy Tellez for a second time).  So, for one inning of work, recording all outs by strikeout, the 6 runs left Webb with an ERA of 54.00.  Oddly enough, he wasn’t the loser as the RailRiders tied the game in the top of the fifth.  His replacement, Tyler Jones, took the loss by allowing three Bison runs over the next couple of innings.  It must be a horrible feeling to stand on the cusp of making a Major League roster, only to see your dream die and then you subsequently get shellacked in the minor leagues. At 26 going on 27, Webb is not going to get too many more opportunities.  Performances like Sunday will not exactly open any doors, except for the one leading out of baseball.  Hopefully, he’ll be more effective next time around and will be ready the next time he gets the call to The Show.  Otherwise, it’s nothing but shattered dreams, shattered dreams…

Credit:  Pete G. Wilcox, Times Leader

So far, the only quality starts thrown by Yankees pitchers are pitchers who stand tall on the mound (6’6” or greater).  We’re on a roll with two consecutive quality  “tall” starts.  Sunday belonged to CC Sabathia (6’6”) with 6 innings of work and two earned runs (three total) even if he didn’t get the decision, and Monday featured the near perfect game by Michael Pineda (6’7”).  He went 7 2/3 innings, allowing only one run.  Jordan Montgomery (6’6”) looks to continue the “basketball pitcher” streak today.  If Montgomery struggles, perhaps Dellin Betances (6’8”) steps in to assist.  I have to admit that I kinda feel like Ronald Torreyes trying to high five Aaron Judge with this pitching staff.  When Aroldis Chapman is brought in behind these guys, it must seem like Tyrion Lannister following Jamie Lannister.  Or me chasing after Aroldis.

I am all for whatever edge the “downward angle” brings for Montgomery.  This is an exciting start and it is one that I am hopeful is very successful.  I don’t think I’ve been this excited about a Yankee-born pitcher since Andy Pettitte. 

According to Forbes Magazine, the New York Yankees are the most valuable MLB franchise, worth an estimated $3.7 billion.  The Los Angeles Dodgers are second, trailing the Yankees by nearly a billion dollars ($2.75 billion).  The others in the “billion dollars behind” category are the Boston Red Sox ($2.7 billion), Chicago Cubs ($2.675 billion), and the San Francisco Giants ($2.65 billion).  I have no problem thinking of a billion reasons why the Yankees are better than the rest of Baseball.  Now the proof is in the pudding.  But as much as I love the Yankees, I would seriously have to consider selling the team if my name was Steinbrenner.  

Happy Retirement to former Yankees outfielder Brennan Boesch.  Boesch was a decent platoon outfielder for a few seasons with the Detroit Tigers at the start of his career.  He played in 23 games with the Yankees during the 2013 season until his release in July of that year.  During his brief Yankees career, he batted .275 (14-for-51) with 3 HR’s and 8 RBI’s.  After his release by the Yankees, he subsequently played for the Los Angeles Angels and Cincinnati Reds.  Last year, he was in the Boston Red Sox organization at the AAA Level, but missed the majority of the season with a broken wrist.  He was unable to get a spring invite from a Major League team this year.  Boesch is a player I liked and hoped would succeed but it wasn’t meant to be.  I wish him the very best in his post-playing career.  

Credit:  David Richard, USA TODAY Sports

Happy Wednesday!  Let’s get a win today!

Optimism fades to Pessimism?…

Where did the excitement of the new season go?…

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The season began with so much optimism.  The Yankees had the best Spring of any team in Major League Baseball (24-9-1) which was their best Grapefruit League performance since the 2009 World Championship year.

The Yankees may not be World Series contenders this year, but I expected more than a 1-3 start through four games.  With 157 games to go, there’s still much baseball to be played.  But it’s important to see the team gel with a winning mindset sooner rather than later.  It’s not feasible or possible to win every game, but the attitude for expecting to win should be there.  With a downward spiral, it’s too easy to get caught up in the losses and the negativity spreads like wildfire.

My concern this month is the schedule.  It is not an easy path in April.  With two more games to go in Baltimore, the Yankees will play a total of eleven games this month against the AL rival Orioles, Boston Red Sox and Tampa Bay Rays.  The series against the Red Sox is at Fenway Park which isn’t exactly an inviting place for the Yankees (or their fans).  The Yankees also play the St Louis Cardinals in inter-league play.  Mike Matheny’s squad always comes to play.  The Yankees really need to get on top of this, and pull out a few stretches of two or three consecutive wins.

Despite Friday’s loss to the Orioles, it was good to see Gary Sanchez connect for his first home run on the season.  It is unrealistic to expect 20 home runs in 50 games again, but just getting the first one out of the way helps the mental approach to each at-bat.

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Credit:  Ron Sachs, The New York Post

Right now, the young trio of Sanchez, Aaron Judge and Greg Bird are all hitting below the Mendoza Line.  Sanchez has the best batting average of the three (.167).  Judge stands at .133, while Bird, with one hit in 16 at-bats, is a pathetic .063.  You’d expect Judge to be the team’s strikeout leader (given Chris Carter is not an every day starter) but he trails Bird by two.  It’s sad when the team’s best hitter is Chase Headley (7-for-15).

Collectively, as a team, the Yankees need to start hitting.  The formula of a few hitters making contact with the majority of the bats being silent does not work.  A few more pitching performances like the one CC Sabathia delivered in the second game of the season would also be nice.  With no fifth starter needed until April 16th, the Yankees have cycled once through the rotation.  Sabathia gave the only defined quality start.  Tanaka’s start may have been the worst of his Yankees career.  As we proceed into the second run through the rotation, much better results are expected and needed.

Losing is like negativity.  It is very infectious.  If the Yankees can start running out a few stretches of consecutive wins, they can change the attitudes and mindset of the team (and its fans).

Let’s see what the second week of the young season will bring…

Tommy John was a good Yankee but I am tired of hearing his name…

The Yankees received bad news regarding top pitching prospect James Kaprielian this week.  He has been shut down and placed on the Minor League DL.  He underwent a MRI on his pitching elbow (which include dye-contrast).  The results have been shared with the Yankees team physician and Kaprielian will now head to Los Angeles to meet with noted Tommy John surgeon Neal S. ElAttrache, M.D.  Dr. ElAttrache is the team physician for both the Los Angeles Dodgers and the NFL’s Los Angeles Rams.  He also is on the Board of Directors for the famed Kerlan-Jobe Orthopedic Clinic which was co-founded by Dr. Frank Jobe, who pioneered Tommy John surgery.

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If Kaprielian needs Tommy John surgery, it’s very possible that we won’t see him again until 2019.  With CC Sabathia’s contract up at the end of the year, I had hoped that Kaprielian would be in position to compete for his rotation spot next Spring.  Now, his career is in doubt.  This is starting to feel like the Andrew Brackman situation.  A pitcher with so much promise who was never able to overcome arm injuries, leading to his eventual release and exit from baseball.

With Kaprielian sidelined, the focus will shift to young pitching prospects like Jordan Montgomery, Chance Adams, and Justus Sheffield to lead the way for future rotation help.

I remain hopeful that Kaprielian receives the best possible medical opinion from Dr ElAttrache and if Tommy John surgery is the only answer, I wish him much success on the long journey to recovery and hope that the Major League dream is still within his grasp.

He said, she said…

This seems to be the week of fake news.  Two separate reports were leaked, only to be quickly shot down by the Yankees.  News reports spread quickly that Yankees prospect Clint Frazier had asked the Yankees to un-retire Mickey Mantle’s number.  Both the team and the player quickly denied the reports and Frazier stated that he was only concerned with the front of the jersey and not the back of it.  The story obviously got its start from somewhere, whether it was words take out of context or spoken in jest, but I do not believe that Frazier made the request.

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The other report was that the Yankees have no intention of re-signing starting pitcher Masahiro Tanaka should he decide to exercise the opt-out clause in his contract at the end of the year.  Managing General Partner Hal Steinbrenner stated that no discussions have taken place.  The Yankees would be foolish not to consider all their options, and re-signing Tanaka to a new longer term deal does represent risk.  He’ll be 29 in November and the slight tear in his Ulnar Collateral Ligament (UCL) is not going to improve without eventual surgery.

Both stories sound like writers fishing for stories.  Finding a shred of truth it and then embellishing it for the sake of sensationalism.

Bad trade rising…

The Yankees have made their share of bad trades over the years, but one that doesn’t get much recognition is the trade of infielder Eduardo Nunez to the Minnesota Twins three years ago yesterday.  Nunez was subsequently traded to San Francisco and is now their starting third baseman (hitting .400, 8-for-20 so far this season).  Meanwhile, the prospect that the Yankees received from the Twins for Nunez (23-year-old lefty Miguel Sulbaran), currently with AA Trenton, has been suspended for 25 games due to a drug policy violation.

Miguel Sulbaran

Credit:  Jessica Kovalcin

While it has not been reported what Sulbaran did to lead to the suspension, it’s safe to say that the Yankees would not make this trade if they had a chance to do it over again.

A memorable Opening Day…

In all my years as a baseball fan, I’ve never attended an Opening Day game.  That changed yesterday when I saw the Colorado Rockies open Coors Field for the 2017 season against their division rival, the Los Angeles Dodgers.  Although I am a Yankees fan, the Dodgers are my favorite National League team so I have to admit that I was wearing some Dodger blue yesterday.

But the day belonged to the Rockies and their young starting pitcher, Kyle Freeland, who made his Major League debut.  Freeland, who was born and raised in Denver, delivered a very solid performance while picking up his first Major League victory.  He went 6 innings, giving up only 4 hits and 1 run.  He walked 2 and struck out 6.  He was never on the ropes and seemed in command for the duration of the game.  The Rockies won, 2-1, in a pitcher’s duel (with Hyun-Jin Ryu) which is not something you ever expect to see at Coors Field.  The game’s only home run was delivered by backup catcher Dustin Garneau.  The Dodgers starting lineup was missing two regulars (Corey Seager and Adrian Gonzalez) although both made their way into the game in later innings.  But it wasn’t enough, and Freeland departed with the win.

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Credit:  The Denver Post

I remember seeing Jake Peavy make his Major League debut in San Diego years ago (against the Yankees) and it always stuck with me throughout Peavy’s career that I was there at the start.  I guess I can now say that about Freeland too.  Time will tell if he is as successful as Peavy.

Despite pulling for the Dodgers, it was a fun day in the Mile High city.  The weather was uncharacteristically warm for this time of year (mid 70’s) and the stadium was energized by its fans.  I expected to see more Dodger Blue but Purple was clearly the color of the day.