Photo Credit: AP
Time to Focus on D.J. LeMahieu…
I have to say this baseball off-season has been more eventful than years past, and has been nice to see the big free agents off the board before Christmas. Last year, it seemed like free agent signings and trade activity were frozen while the World waited to see where Manny Machado and Bryce Harper would land. The Yankees had started early with their trade for James Paxton but it was relatively quiet for them until January. Even then, their signing of D.J. LeMahieu in 2019’s first month was met with indifference from the Yankees fan base, maybe some frustration for those who really wanted to see Manny Machado suit up in Pinstripes.
Nearly a year later, we see how invaluable the acquisition of D.J. LeMahieu really was. Many felt that he was the team’s MVP and warranted consideration for the AL MVP Award (he finished a disappointing fourth). I felt he should have been at least third in the voting with no offense to Marcus Semien (being a Yankee always seems to be a negative factor with these types of awards).
LeMahieu, who will turn 32 in July, enters the final year of his two year, $24 million contract with the Yankees. I’d really like to see the team sign him to an extension now rather than wait until after the season. I think LeMahieu proved his worth in his first Bronx season. He showed he was not a product of Coors Field and actually improved his power numbers away from the Mile High City. His final batting line was .327/.375/.518 with ..375 wOBA and 136 wRC+. He had 26 home runs, eclipsing his previous high of 15 with the Colorado Rockies, and 102 RBIs. His K% was only 13.7%, in line with his career numbers. A superior defender, he is slated to be the Yankees starting second baseman in 2020 with the move of Gleyber Torres to shortstop. Setting the numbers aside, it felt like LeMahieu was always coming up with the big hit when the Yankees needed him the most, almost singlehandedly solving the Yankees’ problem with runners left in scoring position.
Photo Credit: Tim Warner, Getty Images
For whatever reason, the Yankees are less aggressive with their own free agents than they are when enamored with an outsider like Gerrit Cole. That’s probably a false generalization but I remember how difficult it seemed for Derek Jeter to get new contracts in his later years, with negotiations very tenuous at times. We saw it this Winter when the Yankees let Didi Gregorius walk and to this date appear ready to let Dellin Betances leave. While I am not sure the Yankees had any intention of bringing back Didi (if they had, they would have given him the qualifying offer), Gregorius said at his Phillies introductory press conference that he had only heard from Brian Cashman once and he was told the Yankees were focused on Gerrit Cole. To me, unless a player is very invested in Pinstriped legacy like Jeter or Mariano Rivera, it is easy for a Yankee free agent to go elsewhere if things get contentious.
Last off-season, the Yankees gave extensions to Luis Severino and Aaron Hicks. Unfortunately, both subsequently missed significant time with injuries. Maybe that gives the Yankees pause when considering extensions this off-season. With the need for Torres at short, the Yankees need to stabilize the future of second base and lock up LeMahieu while they have exclusive negotiating rights. Treat him right. He is a very valuable part of this team and he has proven his worth. As it sits right now, the Yankees need to add a potential left-handed bat, perhaps in a utility infield role. I know, it is well documented the Yankees’ right-handed hitters hit lefties as well as they do righties, and the need for a left-handed bat is overrated. Still, with the departure of Didi, the only left-handed bats are Mike Ford, Mike Tauchman and Tyler Wade. Of course, when he returns next summer after completion of his rehab from Tommy John surgery, the switch-hitting Aaron Hicks can hit from the left side too.
Slowly, some of the free agent options I’ve liked are starting to come off the board, I thought former Phillies second baseman Cesar Hernandez might have been a decent option although he has only really played second base. But there are more than a few critics with his game, and he is no longer an option after signing with the Cleveland Indians yesterday. Another guy I really liked as a bounce-back candidate, Travis Shaw, signed in the division with the Toronto Blue Jays.
Going into the season, I see Tyler Wade as the primary backup for shortstop. He’ll be challenged in Spring Training by Thairo Estrada but when camp breaks toward the end of March, I feel the difference-maker will be Wade’s speed. So, perhaps the best current free agent option for left-handed infield help appears to be former Indians second baseman Jason Kipnis. I know Kipnis, 33 in April, is not the player he once was. But the Yankees would not be asking him to play a major role. He was some pop as evidenced by his 17 bombs last year even if he is not going to hit for average (.245/.304/.410 in 2019). It’s probably more likely the Yankees bring in a guy like Joe Panik on a minor league deal with an invitation to Spring Training, if anyone at all.
Photo Credit: George Nitikin, AP
It appears the Yankees will be going with Kyle Higashioka as the backup catcher. I thought they might make a play for Gerrit Cole’s 2019 personal catcher, Martin Maldonado, but he re-signed with the Houston Astros. Another possibility, former Yankee Francisco Cervelli, signed with the Miami Marlins. Considering Cervelli signed for only $2 million, it seems like the Yankees could have easily had him if they had wanted, which reinforces their ‘all or nothing’ approach with Higgy. I am a little uneasy if Gary Sanchez misses considerable time due to injuries but it is time for Higgy to show that he is ready. He has literally spent years training and waiting for this opportunity. I hope we do not see the 39-year-old Erik Kratz in the Bronx but unfortunately, at this point, it appears inevitable we will for at least some stretches next season.
The last spot to be addressed is the bullpen. Despite the rumors continuing to flurry about Josh Hader, I’d still prefer to see the return of Dellin Betances. I know, he’ll be delayed by his Achilles Heel injury which has been addressed only by rest and not surgery, and carries great risk entering the 2020 season. I guess I am not really ready to see Betances leave and I continue, or at least try, to think optimistically about his recovery. It’s not that I am against Hader, it’s just the incredibly high cost it will take to bring him to the Bronx. The Yankees are almost guaranteed to lose Miguel Andujar in any deal for Hader, as well as some very good and high-ranked prospects. As much as I appreciated Gio Urshela’s breakout last year, I am not 100% convinced the late bloomer can sustain his performance into the new season. No doubt I prefer Gio’s glove over Andujar at third, but if hecan’t hit, it makes more sense to return Andujar to third despite his defensive shortcomings because we know the man can roll out of bed and hit bombs. To his credit, he is trying to get better with the glove and that’s all we can ask.
The Yankees were connected with Kansas City Royals reliever Tim Hill earlier this off-season and it’s probably more likely the Yankees pursue a lesser name like Hill than one of the best in the game for the bullpen need. Speaking of the Royals, they acquired Chance Adams from the Yankees yesterday. Adams had been designated for assignment last week when the Yankees officially announced Gerrit Cole. When I first heard that Adams was going to the Royals, I was a bit hopeful he was part of a bigger deal to bring Hill to New York, but getting anything more than a “slapdick prospect” (using Blake Snell’s words) for Adams was asking too much. Straight up, the Yankees received a lower level infielder with no power (Cristian Perez). There was a time when we thought Adams was going to be something special for the Yankees but sadly it was not meant to be. I still think he can be an effective reliever so we’ll see if he thrives with the Royals, a lesser pressurized environment for sure.
It’s nice to know that pitchers and catchers report to Tampa in less than two months. I am ready for MLB’s return (especially after last night’s disappointing loss by my Minnesota Vikings which handed the NFC North division championship to the hated Green Bay Packers). It will be fun to watch the arrival of Gerrit Cole to camp and the barrage of media it is sure to bring when the Yankees highest paid player makes his debut at Steinbrenner Field, surrounded by his new teammates. James Paxton, Luis Severino, and Masahiro Tanaka will almost certainly go unnoticed as they prepare for the 2020 season.
I wish everyone a very Merry Christmas! Enjoy the time with friends and family, and take the time to appreciate all we have with this life.
As always, Go Yankees!
|Photo Credit: Mary Altaffer, AP|
As John Sterling said, “David John makes long gone!”…
Finally, the Yankees solved the A’s even if it took eleven innings and a few innings of bases juiced with stranded Oakland runners (the A’s left a total 15 men on base, which seems like a 2018 Yankees stat).
Sure, the Yankees should have called for replay of Matt Chapman’s “double” to left that temporarily gave the A’s a 3-2 lead in the seventh inning. TV replay clearly showed the ball landed outside the left field foul line even if by a fraction of an inch. The entirety of the ball’s imprint in the dirt was on the other side of the chalk line. After the game, Manager Aaron Boone acknowledged he should have asked for replay but the speed of the moment and some uncertainty caused the missed opportunity. Nevertheless, as the saying goes, all’s well that ends well.
DJ LeMahieu’s lead-off first pitch home run to right in the bottom of the 11th inning gave the Yankees the win, 4-3, and snapped the Yankees’ losing streak to the A’s. The 11th inning happened with such lightning speed. No sooner than I had let out a groan when the A’s Matt Olson led off the top of the frame with a single to center, a quick double play and a pop out ended the inning for Oakland before I could even exhale and set the stage for The Machine’s rapid fire ending.
Living in Denver, I can remember DJ’s bottom of the ninth, two-out two-run come-from-behind home run as the Colorado Rockies defeated the Arizona Diamondbacks, 5-4, on September 12, 2018. Clearly, big moments do not phase this man. I am sure that more than a few Rockies fans were wishing the Big Fundy was wearing purple yesterday.
|Photo Credit: Andy Cross, The Denver Post|
The Yankees scored all of their runs on solo homers. Two, his 31st and 32nd, by the so-called ‘fat and lazy’ Gary Sanchez (leaving him one short of his own team record) and a game-tying dinger by Aaron Judge in the bottom of the eighth which set the stage for LeMahieu’s late game heroics. The four home runs in the game gave the Yankees 74 homers for the month, setting a new MLB record for most team homers in a single month. For the record, I do not think El Gary is fat and lazy and he’s had my support from the start of his career.
I was worried the Yankees had lost another player to a critical injury when Zack Britton left the game in the eighth inning with a slight limp. With a ‘glass is half empty’ view, I immediately thought there might be issues with the achilles he tore a couple of years ago. Fortunately, it was reported after the game to be nothing more than cramps and no further tests are scheduled. Whew! We need a healthy Britton in the March to October. Losing Britton would have placed greater urgency on getting Dellin Betances ready to pitch for the first time this year.
|Photo Credit: AP|
The win gives the Yankees (89-48) the best record in MLB. The Houston Astros lost, 6-4 to the Toronto Blue Jays, to fall a game behind the Yanks. Their record is 88-49. The Los Angeles Dodgers, 6-5 losers to the Arizona Diamondbacks, dropped to 88-50.
I was optimistic after the game that the Yankees could win this series against the A’s today, but then realized the starting pitcher will be J.A. Happ. Oh well. I really wish I had more confidence in Happ but unfortunately any confidence has left the building. My only hope is that Happ proves me wrong. Oakland’s Sean Manea will make his 2019 season debut after recovering from left shoulder arthroscopic surgery last September.
He’s back! Clint Frazier has returned to Yankee Stadium and will be in the Yankees lineup today at DH. I am glad to see Frazier back in Pinstripes. A couple of months ago, I thought he had worn them for the final time. I am hopeful he takes advantage of the latest opportunity to show that he belongs here. With rosters expanding today, the Yankees also recalled RHPs Ryan Dull and Chance Adams. They also moved RHP David Hale to the 60-day IL and signed LHP Tyler Lyons to a MLB contract and selected him from Scranton/Wilkes-Barre. I am glad to see the former Cardinals reliever get a shot. Poor Adams has to take a chance on a new number since the last two he has worn are taken. Jonathan Loaisiga has 43 and Mike Mussina “lookalike” Cory Gearrin has Moose’s number 35. I’d call Gearrin ‘Mussina’s Clone’ but that would imply he has the same set of skills which couldn’t be further from the truth. It’s too bad that today, a day Mike Mussina will be honored for his induction into MLB’s Hall of Fame, his number will be active and worn by a journeyman reliever. I love Don Mattingly but I’ve long believed the Yankees should have the same policy as the Los Angeles Dodgers to only retire numbers for Hall of Fame players. Moose now fits that criteria. Well, I guess that I should preface that by saying I am glad nobody will ever wear 15 again.
Last year, the Yankees set the Major League record for most team home runs with 267 long balls. Sadly, the record was erased yesterday when the Minnesota Twins hit six home runs. Mitch Garver’s second bomb of the game, in the ninth inning of Minnesota’s 10-7 loss to the Detroit Tigers, gave them 268. The Yankees are within striking distance, with 254 home runs, but time is running out to make up ground on the 14 dinger shortage. It really makes you wonder where the Yankees would be if health had been their friend in 2019. No doubt a healthy Giancarlo Stanton could have been the difference maker.
The Yankees made a minor trade yesterday when they sent Triple A first baseman Ryan McBroom to the Kansas City Royals for international signing bonus pool money and a player to be named later or cash considerations. I realize that McBroom was buried behind more talented players and at 27, he’s not really a prospect anymore. But I liked the guy and he was tearing up Triple A pitching this season with a batting line of .315/.402/.574 and 146 wRC+ (26 home runs and 87 RBIs). The Yankees acquired McBroom from the Toronto Blue Jays on July 23, 2017 for Robert Refsnyder. I’m happy for McBroom. I was hopeful he’d get a shot with the Yankees but it was not meant to be. With rosters expanding today, he should get a shot to make his Major League debut this month with the Royals. Or at least I hope he does. He’s earned the opportunity.
|Photo Credit: Tim Dougherty, The Free Lance-Star|
I didn’t see how much international signing bonus pool money the Yankees acquired but it’s too bad it came too late to save the signing of talented international outfield prospect Jhon Diaz, who grew tired of waiting for the Yankees to make room for his $1.4 million signing bonus and signed with AL East rival Tampa Bay. Of the international prospects linked to the Yankees, Diaz was second behind only outfielder Jasson Dominguez who was the head of the class and recipient of most of the year’s allocated bonus pool money.
Okay, let’s hope our favorite team will HAPPen to find victory today.
As always, Go Yankees!
|Photo Credit: Jamie Squire, Getty Images|
Yanks Take Two from the KC Royals…
The Yankees made Saturday quite the enjoyable day with two wins in the day/night doubleheader although they had to hold on for dear life in the second game after building an early five-run lead. No matter, a 6-5 win counts the same as 6-1. The Yankees won the first game, 7-3, which had represented a comeback after the Royals had tied the game at 3 in the sixth inning with, surprise, a three-run homer off J.A. Happ. Actually, to Happ’s defense, he pitched better than that and was able to walk away from the game with a win thanks to the power of Luke Voit and good ‘penmanship’ by Adam Ottavino and Luis Cessa.
At 34-17, the Yankees are one game better than they were last year after 51 games. A year ago, at 33-18, they trailed the Boston Red Sox by 2 1/2 games after dropping a 5-1 game to Justin Verlander and the Houston Astros. Their lone run was a homer off the bat of the legendary Greg Bird. The loser that day was Domingo German. He was still in search of his first win as his record fell to 0-3 to go with his 5.45 ERA. What a difference a year makes. This year, the Yankees lead the AL East by 3 games over the Tampa Bay Rays. The Rays won yesterday but the Yankees were able to gain ground, thanks to the doubleheader sweep. Meanwhile, it was the Boston Red Sox losing to the Astros this year. After a two-run single by Christian Vasquez to tie the game for Boston in the top of the ninth inning, the Astros walked it off in the bottom of the ninth, courtesy of a bases-loaded single by Carlos Correa. The Red Sox are 27-25, and 7 1/2 games behind the Yankees.
Nice two-run bomb by Luke Voit in the seventh inning of the first game to break the tie. After the ball had landed beyond left field fence, YES Network announcer David Cone called the distance, 470 feet, after commenting that former Royals outfielder Bo Jackson had once hit one into the same area. For the Yankees, it was the longest team home run since Aaron Judge (remember him?) hit one 471 feet in Texas against the Rangers on May 23, 2018. Well, Louis Linwood Voit III is a Missouri native and the state’s motto is “Show-Me”. There’s no question he showed us.
|Photo Credit: Charlie Riedel, AP|
I was impressed with the job done by Chance Adams in the second game in relief of “opener” Chad Green. While the final line for Adams was not impressive due to defensive miscues in the outfield that were surprisingly not called errors, he held his own and did not buckle under pressure. He gave the Yankees four solid innings despite the three ‘earned’ (yeah, right) runs. Often criticized during his minor league career for a lack of control, he walked only one batter, throwing 45 strikes in 66 pitches. He was attacking the strike zone. It was enough to give Adams his first Major League win. I should add a much deserved win. Up only as the 26-man for the doubleheader, Adams has to return to Triple A. He was previously optioned to Triple A on May 19th so he has a few more days until he is eligible for recall to the big league roster. In my opinion, he should be recalled as soon as he is eligible. He’s earned the right to be on the Major League roster.
|Photo Credit: Anthony J Causi, The New York Post|
Listening to the Royals announcers talk, I think the one thing that bothered me was their comments the Yankees “paid” for their depth. That makes it sound like they went out and paid millions for replacement players, grabbing an All-Star at every turn. It could not be further from the truth.
Based on the active 25-man roster as it stands right now, these are the currently active so-called “replacement” players. The adjusted salaries are provided by spotrac.com.
Barrett signed a one-year deal for $555,000 guaranteed (MLB’s minimum salary for 2019) with the Pittsburgh Pirates in March 2019 after he had been claimed off waivers from the San Francisco Giants. The Yankees claimed him on waivers from the Pirates on April 4, 2019. His adjusted salary for the Yankees is $411,792.
Nestor Cortes Jr
Cortes Jr was originally drafted by the Yankees in the 36th round of the 2013 amateur draft. He is also signed for a one-year, minimum salary deal. His adjusted salary with the big league club is $420,744.
Hale re-signed with the Yankees in January 2019 for the minimum one-year, $555,000 in guaranteed money. He had played in South Korea following his release by the Yankees in May 2018. His adjusted salary with the big league club is $393,888.
Estrada was signed as an international amateur free agent on August 2, 2012. Signed to a one-year minimum salary contract, his adjusted salary with the big league club is $489,376.
Urshela was originally acquired from the Toronto Blue Jays on August 4, 2018 for cash and spent the duration of the 2018 season in Triple A. He was re-signed by the Yankees as a minor league free agent in the off-season and is currently working under the one-year minimum salary contract. His adjusted salary for the Yankees is $528,168.
I am only calling Frazier a replacement player because he wasn’t on the Opening Day roster, but he’s obviously more than just a replacement. Frazier was acquired, along with J.P. Feyereisen, Ben Heller, and Justus Sheffield, on July 31, 2016 in the deadline deal that sent Andrew Miller to the Cleveland Indians. Frazier had been picked in the first round, fifth choice overall, of the 2013 MLB Draft by the Indians. For this season, he signed a one-year, $563,300 deal with the Yankees. His adjusted salary for the big league club is $551,096.
Maybin is playing with his third team this year alone. He was signed for the MLB minimum salary by the San Francisco Giants in March 2019. He was released by the Giants about a week before the end of Spring Training, and subsequently signed with the Cleveland Indians where he was toiling in the minor leagues when the Yankees acquired him for cash on April 25, 2019. His adjusted salary with the Yankees is $471,472.
Morales is in the last year of a three-year deal originally signed with the Toronto Blue Jays. When he was acquired by the Oakland A’s on March 27, 2019, the Blue Jays agreed to pay all but $2 million of the $12 million he was owed for the final year of the contract. When the A’s dealt Morales, after designating him for assignment, to the Yankees on May 13th, they included an undisclosed amount of cash which covers the majority of the $9 million is owed for the remainder of the year. According to Spotrac, Morales’s adjusted salary with the Yankees is $1,494,624.
According to my math, that’s a total of $4,761,160. If the Royals announcers want to say the Yankees paid for their depth, I guess you could say the Yankees made a helluva investment for barely more than the Royals are paying Reds castoff Billy Hamilton ($4.25 million). Even with the money being paid to Kendrys Morales, the average adjusted salary for the above listed replacements is $595,145. What were the Yankees supposed to do when the truckload of Yankee stars were sent to the Injured List? Call up a bunch of Single A players to cover? I take exception to the comments that the Yankees paid their way to this success. They are winning despite NOT foolishly throwing money away. As I see it, there’s nothing greedy about the Yankees’ approach to treading water until the big boys return. Actually, they are doing more than just treading water, they are lapping the pool with smart, economical decisions.
After I finished writing the above section, it was announced that Jake Barrett had been optioned to Triple A and placed on the Injured List with right elbow inflammation. His spot on the active roster was taken by reliever Joe Harvey who carries an adjusted salary of $477,440 which doesn’t really change the scope of my analysis, except the total payout increases to $4,826,808 when you drop Barrett and add Harvey, or an average of $603,351. Regardless of how you look at it, the Yankees are not spending an overabundance of cash to find fill-in players.
It was great to see the clips of Didi Gregorius playing for the Single-A Tampa Tarpons last night. He may have been 0-for-3, but he made a few sparkling defensive plays. At the plate, he had a couple of groundouts and a fly out but it was so great to see a bat in his hands again. I can’t wait for him to get his timing down. All hail Sir Didi! Soon, very soon, we’ll see #18 in Pinstripes again. I can’t wait.
|Photo Credit: Chris O’Meara, AP|
Hopefully the Yankees can sweep the KC series today with a win as Domingo German goes for his tenth win (it’s still May, by the way). Some great KC barbecue and a trio of wins would make for a fantastic weekend in the Greater Kansas City Area for the Bronx Bombers. Get a win and head for Yankee Stadium. Sounds like a wonderful plan to me.
As always, Go Yankees!
|Photo Credit: AP (Rich Schultz)|
Yanks Overcome Weather & Rangers for the Win…
It was raining and we had a closer with a bum knee on the mound who has shown an inability to consistently throw strikes (recently). A walk, a single, and a hit by pitch had the bases loaded with two outs in the top of the ninth inning for Aroldis Chapman. He fell behind the next hitter, Jurickson Profar, on a 3-1 count. With the Yankees leading by two, a misplaced pitch could have brought the Rangers within one and the bases still juiced. Fortunately, the Cuban Missile rose to the occasion and delivered two well-placed four-seam fastballs to send the Rangers back to their NYC hotel on a losing note. Yankees win, 5-3.
Credit to Lance Lynn. I can’t say I was too excited when the Yankees acquired him last month (it felt kinda like ‘Jaime Garcia Revisited’) but this guy has a mental toughness that I did not know or expect. I guess if I had been paying better attention to the St Louis Cardinals the last few years, I would have known but the Cards are not exactly high on my priority list. Lynn didn’t provide the Yankees with length since he was gone after five innings and 99 pitches, but at least he held the Rangers to only one run on five hits. He issued three free passes but at least he struck out eight. If he had given up three or four runs, the Yankees most likely would have lost this game. He may not have gotten the win (thanks to Zach Britton’s meltdown), but he put his team in position to win. That’s all you can ask.
|Photo Credit: NY Post (Corey Sipkin)|
As for Britton, I am not going to rip the guy. He missed most of the season after rupturing his right Achilles while sprinting during an off-season workout last December. He was still working himself back to form when the Yankees acquired him from the Baltimore Orioles. With the Yankees, his role changed from closer to basically seventh inning setup. The other night, after Chad Green had given up a couple of runs, he placed some of the blame on his role change. The same can be said for Britton. He’s a pro, and he is only a couple seasons removed from being the most elite reliever in baseball before injuries derailed him. I think as he rounds back into form, he’ll give the Yankees the pitcher they thought they were acquiring from the O’s.
Nevertheless, the seventh inning was ugly. After retiring the first two batters, Britton loaded the bases on a couple of hits and a walk. He then walked future Hall of Famer Adrian Beltre to cut the Yankees’ lead to 3-2. Exit Britton and enter Dellin Betances. A balk on the big guy tied the game and removed Lynn’s ability to get the win.
There will be better days for Britton. I have faith and confidence he’ll get this right. Although Britton is quick to admit that his troubles have been “self-inflicted”, Manager Aaron Boone remains in his corner (as he should). If the Yankees make it to October, I have no doubt Britton will come up huge.
For most of the season, I’ve been supportive of Gleyber Torres for AL Rookie of the Year over Shohei Otani of the Los Angeles Angels. But yesterday showed the real ROY should be Miguel Andujar. His two-run homer in the bottom of the seventh restored the Yankees’ two-run lead which ultimately gave the Yankees (and ironically Dellin Betances) the much-needed win. 17 homers, 55 RBI, .296/.329/.511, .841 OPS, all those extra base hits. And to think I actually wanted the Yankees to re-sign Todd Frazier last winter. ESPN projects Andujar’s final stats to read 24 homers and 77 RBIs with the nearly .300 batting average. Sign me up all day long. That’s better production than we’ve seen out of third base for a long time or before age caught up with Alex Rodriguez.
|Photo Credit: AP (Bill Kostroun)|
Despite the win, the Yankees (73-43) lost a half-game to the Boston Red Sox and now trail the AL East leaders by 9 1/2 games. The Red Sox took two from their 2018 punching bag, the lowly Baltimore Orioles, yesterday and they have Chris Sale on the mound for today’s series finale at Camden Yards. The Red Sox have forgotten how to lose. The Yankees maintained their 4 1/2 game lead on the Oakland A’s and 6 games on the Seattle Mariners in the Wild Card standings.
The return of Chance Adams to Triple A did not go so well. After holding his own against the Boston Red Sox at Fenway Park in his last start, he imploded in Durham, NC against the Bulls. Even though he wasn’t the loser, his final line was enough to keep him away from Yankee Stadium for awhile. 3 1/3 innings, eight hits, seven runs, four walks, two home runs allowed (including one to former Yankee Rob Refsnyder). The Scranton/Wilkes-Barre RailRiders rallied in the ninth to take the lead but the Bulls won it with a walk-off two run homer by former Pittsburgh Pirates prospect Austin Meadows. Meadows, who came to the Tampa Bay Rays organization in the Chris Archer deal, had two home runs on the day.
The Luke Voit acquisition has been a head-scratcher for most of us. I’ve seen the references that he is basically Tyler Austin but with an extra year of control. But he is not really doing anything for me. He has two hits in twelve at-bats for the Yankees and a couple of RBI’s. Meanwhile, Tyler Austin homered on Saturday in his debut with the Minnesota Twins. I haven’t seen anything to lead me to believe Voit deserves a spot on the active roster. With Neil Walker’s ability to play first base, I’d rather see Ronald Torreyes back in the Bronx. Another name that probably deserves stronger consideration over Voit is first baseman Ryan McBroom. The downside, and enough to keep him away from the Bronx, is that he does not have a place on the 40-man roster. McBroom got demoted to Double A when the Yankees acquired Voit, but he was elevated back to the RailRiders when Voit got the call for the Show. Between Double and Triple A, McBroom, acquired from the Blue Jays organization last summer for the aforementioned Rob Refsnyder, has hit .312/.354/.482, .836 OPS. He has 15 home runs and 54 ribbies with his time in Trenton and Scranton/Wilkes-Barre. The 26 year-old is much more deserving of the Pinstripes than the weight room junkie Voit.
|Photo Credit: Todd Hiller|
I’d love to see the Yankees dump outfielder Shane Robinson but that’s not going to happen as long as Giancarlo Stanton is nursing a tight left hamstring that has relegated him to strict DH duties. If the Yankees are not going to trade for outfield help, I can only hope that Clint Frazier gets healthy soon. At this point, I’d prefer Zack Zehner (SWB) or Trey Amburgey (Trenton) over Robinson but that darn 40-man roster will keep them away.
I’ll be heading out to Coors Field soon to watch the Colorado Rockies host Manny Machado and the Los Angeles Dodgers. Last night was a tough game to watch. The Dodgers took a 2-0 lead into the bottom of the ninth, but with no closer (Kenley Jansen was sent back to LA on Friday night with an irregular heartbeat), the Dodgers bullpen collapsed to set the stage for Rockies rookie infielder Ryan McMahon’s walk-off three-run bomb. So, despite our bullpen woes yesterday, it could have been much, much worse as the Dodger fans will attest. Hopefully today is a better day for the Dodger Blue.
|Photo Credit: Getty Images (Joe Mahoney)|
For the Yankees, they have a chance to take three of four from Texas with a win today. We want a win and we need a win. CC Sabathia (6-4, 3.49 ERA) gets the call. He’ll be opposed by Martin Perez (2-4, 6.15 ERA). Keep Ronald Guzman from crossing home plate and put more runs on the board than the Rangers, that’s all I ask. After the Yankees conclude today’s game, they’ll prepare for a classic pitcher’s duel tomorrow at Yankee Stadium when the New York Mets come to the Bronx for a single makeup game. Luis Severino against Jacob deGrom. It should be a great one. I am really hoping Sevy has put his recent struggles behind him.
|Photo Credit: AP (Julie Jacobson)|
Yankees Roll Past Red Sox, 8-1…
The title of the post is courtesy of Greg Bird’s words after the game as he finally contributed to the Yankees offense in a big way. His two home runs helped power the Yankees past Boston in the first game of the three-game set at Yankee Stadium.
Gleyber Torres set the tone early when he stretched a double into a triple leading off the second inning. Thanks to a drawn-in infield, Miguel Andujar’s bloop fly fell in between four Red Sox defenders in shallow center, scoring Torres with the game’s first run. It may not have been pretty but whatever it takes. Advantage, Yanks.
The fourth inning proved to be fruitful for the Yankees against Red Sox starter Eduardo Rodriguez. Rodriguez entered the game with a 9-2 record, tied for the team lead for wins with Rick Porcello and David Price. Down 0-2, Giancarlo Stanton worked a walk off Rodriguez to open the fourth. Didi Gregorius followed with a deep fly to right center which one-hopped off the warning track up against the wall for a double to put runners at second and third with no outs. Gleyber Torres hit a fly to Andrew Benintendi in left which allowed Stanton to tag and score. Next, the Yankees got back-to-back home runs from Miguel Andujar and Greg Bird to increase their lead to 5-0. I thought it was funny how Paul O’Neill of the YES Network was describing how Bird’s swing was slow to come around as Bird’s ball flew over the left field wall. A quick correction in words made by O’Neill. Nice audible, Paulie!
|Photo Credit: Jim McIsaac|
The Red Sox finally got their first (and only) run off CC Sabathia in the fifth inning. The dangerous Mookie Betts hit a two-out double to left center and scored when Andrew Benintendi followed with a double to the right field wall. Benintendi stole third but was stranded on the second inning-ending fly out of the night with runners in scoring position by J.D. Martinez. It was a really nice job by Sabathia and later Chad Green to contain the red hot Martinez who finished 0-for-4. If Martinez had gotten a couple of huge hits, the game would have looked very differently.
It was a great start for CC Sabathia who took the team into the seventh inning rather than his usual five. Sabathia enters his 38th month of July tomorrow but he didn’t show any signs of age on this night. After recording the first two outs of the seventh, Jackie Bradley Jr was hit by a pitch to bring the always lethal Mookie Betts to the plate. It probably would have been a good spot for Aaron Boone to make a pitching change, but he stayed with the crafty veteran. CC, showing some athleticism, took a grounder from Betts on his 97th pitch to flip it to Greg Bird for the final out. Time for the showers for Sabathia but it was a job well done. Seven solid innings, six hits, the lone fifth inning run, a walk and five strikeouts. You could not have asked for a better performance.
In the bottom of the seventh, with Red Sox reliever Justin Haley in for Rodriguez, the Yankees picked up a couple more runs on Aaron Judge’s home run to right after Aaron Hicks had singled. It had been a battle of Fresno State alumnus but Judge was the better Bulldog this time around (as expected of course).
|Photo Credit: NJ Advance Media for NJ.com (Andrew Mills)|
The Yankees scored their final run in the bottom of the eighth inning with Haley still on the mound for the Sox. It might have been more but Miguel Andujar was thrown out trying to stretch a single into a double before Greg Bird came to the plate. With the bases empty, Bird blasted a homer to right for his second dinger of the game. 8-1, Yankees.
|Photo Credit: NY Post (Paul J Bereswill)|
Chad Green had pitched a clean eighth inning for the Yankees, but I am always sweating bullets when the unreliable Chasen Shreve enters a game. Despite a seven-run lead, it was not easy watching Shreve take the mound for the ninth. He retired the three batters he faced, including the last two by strikeout to end the game so there was no cause for alarm. I guess that’s why they pay Aaron Boone to make these decisions and not me.
With the win, the Yankees (53-26) are back in a first-place tie with the Red Sox. It is amazing how the two teams have battled neck-and-neck for the past month with no more than a two-game separation. No MLB teams have better winning percentages than the Yankees (.671) and Red Sox (.663). The Tampa Bay Rays, fourteen games out in the AL East, would only be 4 1/2 games out if they played in the AL Central.
It was nice to see Brandon Drury in the Yankees dugout even if he didn’t get to play on Friday night.There’s no doubt we’ll see him sometime this weekend. It’s funny how Greg Bird answered Drury’s arrival with two home runs. Felt kind of like the effect Clint Frazier has on Aaron Hicks when Red Thunder pulls on the pinstripes. Still, I expect Drury to play a big role in the march to October and hope he’s up with the big league club for the long haul.
Great credit goes to the rookies (Gleyber Torres and Miguel Andujar) for this game. Neither player is intimidated by playing in Baseball’s biggest rivalry on its largest stage. I can’t imagine playing with that type of pressure at such a young age. But time and again, they come up with the plays to ignite the Yankees offense. I was one who wanted the Yankees to re-sign Todd Frazier in the off-season and if that had happened, the Yankees might be trailing the Red Sox in the standings. Frazier is only batting .219/.305/.373 with 8 homers and 29 RBI’s, while Andujar is delivering .283/.309/.521 with 12 home runs and 38 RBI’s. The Toddfather has 15 extra base hits, Andujar has 39. Wow. A big disparity in numbers…and age.
|Photo Credit: NJ Advance Media for NJ.com (Andrew Mills)|
Friday night was a very good night for all things-Yankees as the Scranton/Wilkes-Barre RailRiders took down the top Red Sox affiliate, Pawtucket, 7-4, behind the arm of Chance Adams who yielded only one run over five innings for the win.
The Yankees send Sonny Gray to the mound today to face Chris Sale. Of the three games this weekend, this is the one that I have the least confidence for despite the Yankees history of success against Sale. I’d probably feel better if it was anyone other than Gray on the mound. Well, not anyone, I’d hate to see Luis Cessa in this spot. Maybe Gray can surprise me like Shreve did last night. I hope so.
|Photo Credit: Getty Images (Mike Stobe)|
Yankees win again behind German…
The Yankees got off to a good start with their three-game series against the Seattle Mariners last night with a 7-2 win at Yankee Stadium.
Very nice pitching performance by young Domingo German. I wish Sonny Gray could take notes on how to pitch in the Bronx. The veteran could learn a thing or two from the rookie. German could have broken in the first inning when the Mariners had runners at the corners and no outs following a double and an error by Didi Gregorius. Sure, the M’s picked up a run on Mitch Haniger’s fielder’s choice to short but German shook it off and struck out Corey Seager’s brother Kyle to end the threat. From there, German shut down the Mariners, retiring 18 in a row, until Nelson Cruz did what he does best in the seventh inning, a dinger to left. You can’t really blame German for that one. Cruz does it to the best of ’em.
German’s final pitching line was something Sonny Gray can only dream about at Yankee Stadium. Seven very strong innings, two hits, two runs but only one earned, zero walks, and nine strikeouts. German is pitching like he doesn’t want GM Brian Cashman to make any pitching acquisitions at the trading deadline. While I’d leave German in the rotation, I would still make a trade for a proven veteran starter. Nothing against Jonathan Loaisiga but I’d rather limit the rookies in the rotation for the stretch run to only one (German).
I liked the tag line used by Mike Axisa of River Ave Blues: Dominant Domingo and the Dingers. It was a very good description of the game. I can’t wait for the movie.
|Photo Credit: NY Post (Charles Wenzelberg)|
With German easing the Yankees’ desperation for starting pitching help, I hope it opens the possibility for a trade to acquire a shutdown arm for the bullpen. None better than San Diego’s LHP Brad Hand which would allow the Yankees to dump Chasen Shreve. I think it was Sweeny Murti who said the other day that he’d like for the Yankees to acquire the Padres closer for no other reason than to be able to say “Aloha, Mr Hand!”. Yes, that’s true. Good point. But Hand is also the most highly sought-after reliever now that former Kansas City Royals closer Kelvin Herrera resides in Washington, D.C. and he has drawn attention from many teams including the Boston Red Sox. I really would not want to see Hand go to Boston to help shore up their bullpen deficiencies. The move to acquire him by the Yankees would not be all about keeping him out Boston but rather give us a deadly bullpen that can shut down anyone, anytime, anywhere.
|Photo Credit: Getty Images (Denis Poroy)|
If the Yankees make no moves for starting pitching, they should most certainly look to add additional bullpen pieces. I really don’t want to see Shreve as the top lefty come October. He’s too inconsistent for me and a few others on this site.
It was good to see the Yankees offense come to life last night. Marco Gonzales has pitched very well for the Mariners this year and he entered the game with a 7-3 record. I thought well enough of him to add him to my fantasy baseball team a few weeks ago. He killed my team last night with six runs allowed, including three home runs. But hey, it was worth it. I cut him after the game but there’s no way I can be disappointed with his dismal performance.
|Photo Credit: Associated Press (Seth Wenig)|
The homers were really fun to watch. Giancarlo Stanton’s shot to center in the first inning to tie the game, Miguel Andujar’s two-run homer to left in the bottom of the fifth to give the Yankees their first lead, Aaron Hicks’ two-run blast to left in the fifth after Clint Frazier had singled to increase the Yankees’ lead to 5-1, and the eighth inning ‘tack-on’ homer to left by Gleyber Torres off former Yankees reliever Nick Rumbelow. If you saw only the homer and not the batter, you would have sworn that Gleyber’s shot was courtesy of Aaron Judge or Giancarlo Stanton. It was certainly worthy of the words “All Rise” or “a Stantonian blast” if it had been hit by #99 or #27 rather than #25. The ball traveled 446 feet, easily the longest hit of the night. After Torres hit his homer, I saw one Yankees tweet say only 38 more to go to the rookie record. Very funny even if impossible. Still, I don’t think anyone in their wildest dreams could have forecasted 14 home runs, 35 RBI’s, and a slash line of .291/.346/.566 for Gleyber Torres on June 19th. The guy is such a joy to watch game after game. Sure, he’ll have to continue to make adjustments as pitchers adjust but he’s shown us enough to be confident he will.
Oh yeah, Aaron Judge had an RBI on single to left in the bottom of the seventh off Rumbelow with the run charged to Gonzales. A single. How pedestrian! Seriously, I love what Aaron Judge means to this team and how he is continually a difference-maker with both bat and glove.
I was hopeful that Gary Sanchez was breaking out of his slump but he was 0-for-4 with a strikeout, dropping his season batting average back down to .191.
It was a fun game. The Mariners are a very good club and this series could easily be a preview of October if the M’s continue to play well. They are currently 46-27 and sit just two games behind the World Champions in the AL West. I don’t expect the Yankees to sweep the series but I am hopeful they capture at least one of the next two games before hopping on a plane bound for Tampa, Florida.
The Boston Red Sox, despite having their ace, Chris Sale, on the mound, lost 6-2 to the Minnesota Twins at Target Field in Minneapolis, MN so the Yankees (48-22) increased their AL East lead to one game. Credit to the third-place Tampa Bay Rays, the Yankees’ next opponent. They used Blake Snell (a pitcher that I’d love to see Brian Cashman acquire) to beat the Astros and Justin Verlander, snapping Houston’s 12-game winning streak.
Congratulations to Brandon Drury for winning International League Player of the Week honors. The Major League player, who deserves better than Triple A, hit .471 with one home run and 11 RBI’s during the week of June 11th through 17th. He had 16 hits, 25 total bases, and 11 runs scored. In last night’s 7-5 loss by the Scranton/Wilkes-Barre RailRiders to the Lehigh Valley Iron Pigs (love that name!), Drury was 0-for-5 with a couple of strikeouts. It doesn’t deter me. I still want Drury back in Pinstripes where he belongs. With Ryan McBroom’s demotion to Double-A, I saw a quote by RailRiders manager Bobby Mitchell that the plan is to play Drury at first periodically. Operation Dump Neil Walker; Promote Brandon Drury is well underway. I liked Mitchell’s quote about Drury earlier this week: “He’s a big leaguer, you know? Just happens to be with us. He can play for a lot of teams, obviously, and even ours if they needed him.”
|Photo Credit: Todd Hiller|
As for Chance Adams (the loser in the game), he is stepping dangerously into “Chance Adams Sucks!” Territory. Once considered the top pitching prospect in the organization, Adams gave up six runs in four innings (four earned) yesterday. He walked four batters while striking out only one. Control continues to be his Achilles Heel. Suffice it to say that I don’t think we’ll be seeing Mr Adams (2-3, 5.21 ERA) in the Bronx anytime soon.
It’s Wednesday and an awesome day for Lasagna! It will be Old versus Young today as 32-year-old “King” Felix Hernandez takes on rookie 23-year-old Jonathan Loaisiga who was phenomenal in his debut appearance. When I looked up Hernandez, I was thinking he was older than he really is. He seems to have aged prematurely and is certainly not the ace he once was. This season, he is 6-6 with 5.44 ERA and an unsightly 1.38 WHIP. For all the years the Yankees were linked to him in trade rumors, I am glad it was a trade never consummated. Let’s get a win and take this series.
|Photo Credit: USA TODAY Sports (Mitch Stringer)|
Shoes or no shoes, Rookie continues to excel…
The Yankees didn’t beat the Baltimore Orioles 4-1 on Friday night solely behind the bat, feet, and arm of young Gleyber Torres but as usual, the youngster was in the thick of things as the Yankees won the opener of their now three-game series with the O’s behind solid pitching by Sonny Gray.
Admittedly, I moved to pessimistic mode when Sonny Gray allowed the first inning solo shot by the great Manny Machado, but Torres changed my mood considerably when he singled in the third to score Neil Walker with the tying run.
Torres led off the fifth inning with a double that he tried to stretch to triple but an uncooperative shoe that went flying off his foot altered his momentum with a slight stumble that allowed the outfield throw to reach third ahead of the sliding Torres. Although the Orioles announcer for the TV broadcast I was watching called the Yankees second baseman by the name of Gleyber Torreyes during the at-bat, Torres continues to be a very exciting player regardless of the outcome or how you pronounce his name.
|Photo Credit: Associated Press (Nick Wass)|
Greg Bird, showing why he is so highly thought of by the Yankees organization, tripled to the center field wall, when O’s outfielder Adam Jones misjudged his leap, scoring Brett Gardner with the go-ahead run. Gardy had singled after the shoeless Torres had been thrown out at third. Bird, please just stay healthy. We need you.
I was very pleased with the overall performance by Sonny Gray. I can get so infuriated with his pitching but he delivered the way he was expected to when GM Brian Cashman summoned the former Oakland Athletic to the Bronx last summer. After giving up the Machado homer, he held the O’s to three meaningless hits and no runs before his departure after six innings.
|Photo Credit: Getty Images|
For as much as I have focused on Torres in recent days, there’s no question Aaron Judge is this team’s MVP. His seventh inning homer (his 16th dinger of the season and 41st RBI) gave the Yankees a three-run cushion they would not relinquish. Psychologically, this was huge, especially when Dellin Betances loaded the bases in the eighth with a couple of walks and a plunking of Orioles slugger Mark Trumbo. Fortunately, Betances was able to exit the inning unscathed when he got the unspectacular Jace Peterson out on a grounder back to the pitching mound.
Aroldis Chapman struck out the side in the bottom of the ninth to secure the win for Gray and the Yankees. It was his 13th save of the season. I am grateful we continue to see 2016 Chapman and not last year’s version.
The Boston Red Sox (39-19) lost again, their second loss in a row to the Houston Astros, so the Yankees (36-17) have narrowed the gap in the AL East to just a half game. The Astros, behind the pitching of Gerrit Cole, beat Chris Sale for the 7-3 victory. The Orioles are 21 games behind the Yankees. Wow, it’s only June 2nd. I do feel badly for O’s manager Buck Showalter. I am not sure that he’s going to survive this season. I used to love beating him but now he just looks so pathetic in the O’s dugout, loss after loss. I can still remember watching Showalter as a Double A player in the Yankees farm system as if it was yesterday. The team that was surprised me the most in the division is the 28-28 Tampa Bay Rays, currently in third. They’ve lost a couple games but for them to be playing .500 ball is impressive given the current talent struggles on their roster. They are playing more like how I expected the O’s to play instead of vice versa.
The legendary Yankees career of Oliver Perez has come to an end. After signing a minor league contract earlier this year, Perez wasn’t awful for the Scranton/Wilkes-Barre RailRiders but there was no chance he was going to find his way to the Bronx. He exercised a June 1st opt-out and will have a chance to find a team with a clearer path of the Major Leagues. Good luck to him. Frankly, I am glad the Yankees never needed his services.
Bryan Van Dusen wrote an excellent piece the other day about the value of the roster spots for the Yankees (too many good players to fit within the confines of a 25-man roster). I am always too quick to dump on Aaron Hicks but leave it to Van Dusen to provide the reminder for why Hicks is a valuable role player for the Yankees: “Aaron Hicks – I’m not sold on him being a starter, at least not for the Yankees, but if you look beyond a pedestrian batting average this season (.232) he’s a solid player. He’ll get on base at a decent clip, doesn’t strike out much, makes contact often, and is a top ten defensive centerfielder in all of MLB.” As usual, I agree with Bryan. I’d love to see Clint Frazier at the Major Leagues, but for as much as I might like him over Hicks, Red Thunder is not going to experience MLB success in center field. He’ll make his mark with a corner outfield position and last time I checked, those spots are filled. Van Dusen suggested moving Gardy to center to open left for Clint Frazier but goes on to say letting Frazier crush it in Triple A to help his trade value might be the best path. Again, I have to agree. I love Red Thunder and it would be awesome to see him on the Yankee Stadium field. But this team needs pitching and Frazier might be the best trade chip. Nice job on your analysis, Bryan.
It seems like I’ve been ripping on Chance Adams as much as I have Sonny Gray this year, but I have to congratulate Adams for his terrific outing last night. Adams, with 93 pitches, threw a shutout, scattering four hits, over 5 2/3 innings en route to a 4-0 win over the Indianapolis Indians. Adams struck out seven batters, but more importantly, did not walk anyone. If Adams wants to re-establish himself in the call-up pecking order, this is the way to do it.
|Photo Credit: MiLB.com|
On a side note, every time I check a RailRiders box score, it seems like Cody Carroll is dominating hitters in relief. It’s almost unfair when the RailRiders take the field against Triple A opponents. A “MLB-ready” team that could effectively compete against many of the MLB teams facing minor league squads. The men among boys. It’s a nice problem to have.
Lastly, Aaron Judge’s air high five for the missing Ronald Torreyes was a nice, but sad, moment in yesterday’s game. I am hopeful the Yankees can find a way to bring back Torreyes sooner rather than later but sadly it will probably take a trade to clear space. Too many good players, not enough roster spots.
Today is a new day. The Yankees can capture first place in the AL East with a win and a Red Sox loss. Time to put Boston in the rear-view mirror. Of course, rain might have a say in the matter with the thunderstorms expected in Baltimore this afternoon/evening. Rain Gods, please delay your visit and allow America’s favorite team to win today.
|Photo Credit: Instagram (masahiro_tanaka.official)|
Strong pitching carries Yanks past Angels…
The Yankees needed a strong effort by Masahiro Tanaka on Sunday against the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim and they got it. He gave up his obligatory home run but it didn’t matter as the Yankees used a three-run third inning to cruise past the Halos, 3-1.
The highlight of the game, not for its meaning to the final outcome but rather the drama of the moment, was Tanaka’s strikeout of fellow Japanese countryman Shohei Ohtani to end the first inning. Tanaka fell behind Ohtani on a 3-1 count but two swinging strikes sent Ohtani to the bench, much to the delight of the Yankee Stadium crowd. For the game, Ohtani was 0-for-2 against Tanaka, with a walk and two strikeouts. Mike Trout, who had a career day on Saturday, was 0-for-3 with two strikeouts against Tanaka. Simple formula: Hold Ohtani and Trout in check and good things happen.
Tanaka’s terrific day was done after the sixth inning and 104 pitches. He held the Angels to only three hits and the isolated run on Andrelton Simmons’ solo homer in the sixth. Tanaka (6-2) walked three and struck out eight. THIS is the Masa we need for the summer’s pennant chase.
|Photo Credit: Associated Press (Bill Kostroun)|
With six strong from Tanaka, Manager Aaron Boone was able to effectively lay out David Robertson, Dellin Betances and Aroldis Chapman for three innings of scoreless relief. Very nice play by Didi Gregorius to stop a hard hit grounder by Martin Maldonado, throwing the Angels catcher out at first to end the game and hand Chapman his eleventh save.
The Yankees (33-16) ended up taking two of three from the Angels after Saturday night’s debacle when Sonny Gray (Sucks!) and the Yankees bullpen were hammered by Mike Trout and the Angels in an 11-4 loss. Fortunately, the Boston Red Sox finally lost yesterday against the NL East leading Atlanta Braves, 7-1. The Braves victory was especially sweet as they gave Chris Sale an early exit (4 1/3 innings) by scoring six runs off Boston’s prized left-hander. The Red Sox lead over the Yankees in the AL East is back to one game.
The schedule, which has been Boston’s friend so far this season, continues to benefit the Red Sox. The Atlanta Braves were one of the rare winning teams the Red Sox has faced so far this year. They return to playing sub .500 teams today with the arrival of the Toronto Blue Jays (25-28) at Fenway Park. Meanwhile, the Yankees draw the defending World Champions, the Houston Astros, for a three-game set at Yankee Stadium. Yes, the Yankees did sweep the Astros in Houston at the beginning of the month, but the team was on a roll at the time. I can’t say I am too confident with today’s matchup (Domingo German, 0-2, 5.59 ERA vs Justin Verlander, 6-2, 1.08 ERA). But if the Yankees can keep it close, I like the Yankees’ chances against the Houston bullpen. Yesterday, with closer Ken Giles on the mound, the Astros blew an 8-3 ninth inning lead in their fourteen-inning loss to the Cleveland Indians.
|Photo Credit: Associated Press (Jason Miller)|
The Yankees need pitching help but it doesn’t look like Chance Adams wants to play. The RailRiders game had barely started yesterday when Adams was pulled. With an inability to find the strike zone, Adams departed in the first inning after recording only two outs. He had given up only one hit, but three walks and a hit batter gave the Syracuse Chiefs an early 3-0 lead. The RailRiders came back to win the game, 7-4, so Adams wasn’t saddled with the loss but it was a pathetic performance. His season ERA is an unsightly 5.93 and he leads the team with 22 walks. It doesn’t sound like Adams wants to join his former RailRiders teammates in the Bronx, at least if he continues to pitch like the second coming of Sonny Gray. Hopefully he figures this thing out and restores the bloom of his potential. I still think his future lies in the bullpen but regardless, he is a guy I hope reaches Pinstriped glory.
I was surprised as anyone when the Yankees optioned popular utility man Ronald Torreyes to Triple A to make room for the activation of first baseman Greg Bird. I had fully expected either Tyler Austin or a pitcher to go down. Neil Walker has proven his worth to the organization so the team wasn’t go to eliminate his roster spot. I also think the Yankees are intrigued with A.J. Cole and haven’t seen enough to make a decision about him yet. The YES Network’s Michael Kay noted yesterday that Toe’s locker has not been cleaned out. It is expected he’ll be back when his ten days are up or shortly thereafter. An injury to someone (I hope not) will accelerate the timetable. In the grand scheme of things, I fully expect Torreyes to have a longer Yankees career than Tyler Austin. I could see Austin as part of a trade in the days leading up to this year’s trading deadline when the Yankees attempt to seek upgrades for their pitching staff.
He was only a Yankee for 33 games in 2008 but it is enough to qualify Hall of Famer Ivan “Pudge” Rodriguez as a member of the Yankees family. I am sure that Pudge is very excited today as the San Francisco Giants have selected the contract of his son, Dereck, from their Triple A affiliate. Dereck started his professional career in 2011 as an outfielder in the Minnesota Twins farm system but was converted to pitching in 2013. He signed with the Giants organization as a minor league free agent during the off-season. A starter in the minor leagues, Rodriguez is expected to provide long relief for the Giants. I hope Rodriguez pitches so well the Giants decide to trade Madison Bumgarner to the Yankees. C’mon, a guy can dream, can’t he? Seriously, congratulations to Dereck for the realization of his own dream.
|Photo Credit: Instagram (drod_31)|
Speaking of former Yankees, Phil Hughes has found a new home. The Minnesota Twins had designated the pitcher for assignment earlier in the week. On Sunday, the Twins sent Hughes and a compensatory draft pick (74th overall) to the San Diego Padres for a minor league catcher. The incentive for the Padres is the competitive balance draft pick. The Twins will send money to pay down the contract owed to Hughes to lessen the financial commitment for the Padres. For now, Hughes will be inserted into the Padres bullpen, joining former Yankees Bryan Mitchell and Tyler Webb. I am not sure if this is the eventual end of the line for Hughes, who has undergone multiple surgeries for thoracic outlet syndrome, or if he will be able to resurrect his career in sunny Southern CA, but I wish the veteran 31-year-old righty the very best in his latest comeback attempt.
It’s Memorial Day so we pay tribute to those who have fallen in defense of our Country. Of course, we think about those individuals every day of the year, not just this day, and are grateful for their service and sacrifice to defend our liberty and freedom. We can never repay them or their families. We carry the memory of the slain men and women who have served this great Nation today and always.
Photo Credit: Getty Images (Richard Rodriguez)
Yanks lose first series since April…
With leads of 4-0 and later 10-5, you do not really expect to lose, but thanks to multiple pitching failures, the Yankees allowed the Texas Rangers to take the final game, 12-10, and win the series, two games to one. It was the first series the Yankees have lost since the Boston Red Sox took two of three from the Yankees on April 10th through 12th.
I keep hearing “don’t blame Sabathia, he is part of the solution, not the problem” but realistically, he’ll be 38 in a couple of months and he is not exactly a physical specimen. Since he held the Cleveland Indians to three hits and no runs over six innings on May 4th, he has averaged slightly under five innings per start (three starts). He has given up 15 runs (13 earned) in 13 1/3 innings pitched including 4 home runs and 7 walks. If CC wants to be part of the solution, he needs to start pitching better. My current confidence level in Sabathia is nowhere near where it was last year.
Yesterday’s game was a microcosm of the problems with both the starting pitching and the bullpen. Losing the 4-0 lead was bad enough, but there was no reason to blow the subsequent five-run lead. David Robertson did not look good. I have been a huge D-Rob fan but he’s pitching his way out of the Bronx right now. If these struggles continue throughout the season, there’s no doubt the Yankees will let him walk away at the end of the year. Of course, it’s all about cause and effect. Sabathia’s early departures put added and unnecessary pressure on the bullpen.
I am not sure why Aaron Boone tries to get more than one inning out of Dellin Betances. It seems like the second inning for Betances never works out in our favor regardless of how sharp he looks in the first inning of relief. Overall, I’ve liked the job Boone has done, but he hasn’t shown the ability to work the bullpen like Joe Girardi did. Girardi had his critics about his handling of the pen but the results were much better or at least I had more confidence in Joe’s ability. I think Boonie will get there and I am certainly not trying to go down a ‘we should have stayed with Joe’ path. I support Boone and like him as the Yankees manager. I was proud of his use of the f-bomb a few times the other night when he was thrown out of his first game as manager.
There were positives in the Texas series. Namely, Gleyber Torres is a stud. There is literally nothing that the guy cannot do. He may not be the speediest guy on the team but I swear he wears an “S” on his shirt under the uniform.
It was hard to watch Robinson Cano leave after the 2013 season via free agency. He had been the Yankees best player and it was great to have such a strong player at second base. Then we had to deal with a series of interim players like Brian Roberts and Stephen Drew. With no disrespect to Starlin Castro, Torres gives us our first legitimate young superstar at the position since Cano left.
Photo Credit: Getty Images (Richard Rodriguez)
Giancarlo Stanton’s numbers may be coming around, but I still trust Aaron Judge more.
Neil Walker keeps showing why he should not be the sacrificial lamb when Greg Bird returns. While I’d like the first base pairing of Bird and Tyler Austin, I still feel that it makes more sense to option to Austin to Triple A. He’ll be needed again at some point.
Glad to see that Didi Gregorius is starting to warm up again. His slump was the worst of his career following his All-World performance and Player of the Month honors in April. The Yankees need Didi if they expect to contend in October.
I try to keep up with the Yankees farm system but I have to say that I was shocked when reliever Ryan Bollinger was added to the 25-man roster yesterday. My first reaction was ‘who?’. I hadn’t really paid much attention to his minor league free agent signing or the stellar work he has done for the Trenton Thunder this year. Since he is not really a “prospect” anymore at the stage of his career (he is 27 after all), I just viewed him as depth for the minor leagues. Honestly, I do not expect him to stay in the Bronx long, not with the impending returns of Tommy Kahnle and Adam Warren. I like what I’ve seen out of A.J. Cole and want him to stick around so it would seem Bollinger will be the odd man out in a few days and a potential DFA candidate if the Yankees need his 40-man roster spot. As for Cole, I’d probably give him a spot start over Domingo German to see what he can do.
Maybe it was because the Yankees were in Dallas, but the past week has brought so much speculation of Cole Hamels to the Yankees at the trading deadline. I do not see it. I like Hamels and I wouldn’t squawk about his presence on the roster. There are a few guys in the starting rotation that he’d leapfrog. But, realistically, it makes no sense to me. Unless the Rangers are willing to pay significant dollars to pay down his contract, the Yankees would be responsible for the prorated portion of his $22.5 million 2018 salary. The contract has an option for $20 million in 2019. The option becomes guaranteed if Hamels has 400 IP in 2017-18 (he is presently at 206 2/3 innings so he’s unlikely to reach the milestone). The buyout for 2019 is $6 million. Hamels also has a limited no trade clause that includes the Yankees. So, in order to get the Rangers to pay any dollars toward the contract, the Yankees would have to up the ante in terms of premium prospects. There would be more dollars involved to get Hamels to waive the no-trade. I don’t see how a few months of Hamels would justify the elimination of the majority of the cap space under the luxury tax threshold and the quality prospects that would be lost. Sure, if the Yankees win the World Series as a result, it would be worth it but I just don’t see Hamels as the difference-maker.
Photo Credit: Getty Images (Joe Robbins)
I keep hoping the Seattle Mariners start losing now that they’ve lost Robinson Cano and Dee Gordon, but all they’ve done since is win. The M’s are currently riding a five-game winning streak and sit just two games behind the AL West leading Houston Astros. My desire to see the M’s lose is to open their willingness to move James Paxton. However, if they keep winning, there’s no chance.
The best possibility for the starting rotation might be our own Justus Sheffield. He came off the disabled list to pitch four innings of scoreless three-hit ball against the Pawtucket Red Sox yesterday. He struck out five and walked only one batter. Tommy Kahnle may have gotten the win in the 7-1 victory but it was a great limited outing for Sheffield’s return. I personally don’t think we’ll see Sheffield in the Bronx until August or September (if at all this year) but the power to accelerate the time table is certainly within his control. I probably shouldn’t read too much into Sheffield’s fine performance. Chance Adams threw a one-hitter last week to go with ten strikeouts (to raise my excitement level), yet he followed it up with a stinker against Pawtucket on Tuesday (five runs and three walks in three innings of work).
With last night’s disappointing loss, the Yankees have fallen 1 ½ games behind the Boston Red Sox in the AL East. Boston wraps up their series with the Tampa Bay Rays today, so they could hold a two-game advantage entering play on Friday. The first half schedule for the Red Sox has been so generous for them.
For the Yankees, I am glad to see the road trip end. With the washout of the games in Washington, they finished the trip with a 3-3 record despite hitting three home runs or more in five straight games for the first time in franchise history. The road trip also included extended flight delays and sleeping at airports. Their flight last night was delayed for mechanical reasons and they didn’t get off the ground this morning until about 5:30 am Eastern. Fortunately, today is an off day, but they’ve certainly dealt with more than their share of adversity this trip. Hopefully, the Yankees will be rested and ready to play when they meet the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim at Yankee Stadium tomorrow night.
Photo Credit: Getty Images (Bob Levey)
Yankees win again…
I have to admit the Yankees are playing better against the Houston Astros than I thought they would. It was a miserable start to current series when Houston’s Charlie Morton dominated the Yankees to take the first game, but since then, the Yankees have held the Astros scoreless for 22 innings and have limited them to two runs overall for three games. Houston is bound to score runs and it most likely will occur today but it’s been a fun ride.
The Astros clearly have the best starting rotation but the Yankees have the better bullpen. While we had early concerns about certain guys in the pen, the unit appears to be coming together and Aroldis Chapman looks great (even if he wasn’t needed last night). It is very nice to see Dellin Betances pitching like the All-Star version again. Chad Green, David Robertson…I am grateful for these guys every day.
Last night’s pitching performance by Luis Severino was magnificent. A day after Justin Verlander pitched a three-hit shutout for eight innings, striking out fourteen, only to walk away with a no-decision when Astros closer Ken Giles coughed up the game-winning home run to Gary Sanchez, Luis Severino took his gem to the finish line with a complete game, five-hit shutout. He also reached double-digits with strikeouts (ten). If you want something done, you have to do it yourself. It paid off for Sevy as he picked up his fifth win of the young season. Personally, I probably would have called it a night for Severino after eight innings and 98 pitches but thankfully they pay Aaron Boone to make those decisions, not me.
Photo Credit: Houston Chronicle (Karen Warren)
It was only a matter of time until Giancarlo Stanton starting hitting like the NL MVP he is. Prior to yesterday’s game, I lost count of how many times I was reminded that Dallas Keuchel has never yielded any home runs to the Yankees. So, it was only fitting that the newcomer took Keuchel deep, not once but twice. I am really anxious for Stanton to have a game like this at Yankee Stadium. He has awed crowds in Toronto and Houston but I would love nothing better than for Stanton to take a curtain call in the Bronx.
Photo Credit: Getty Images (Bob Levey)
I’ll borrow a term currently used on the TV show Supergirl. When they are hitting, Aaron Judge and Giancarlo Stanton are “World Killers”. Yes, I watch Supergirl. C’mon, Melissa Benoist is hot. But with all sincerity, when the World Killers are on, the Yankees are unstoppable.
I was as disappointed as any Yankees fan with the news that Jordan Montgomery will miss the next several months. While I am glad that the immediate prognosis does not involve Tommy John surgery, I recognize that anything is possible until Monty is healthy enough to pitch again. Hopefully rest over the next three weeks allows Montgomery to begin his path toward building arm strength once again. In the interim, I am looking forward to watching Domingo German. In Spring Training, I was so on Team German over Team Cessa as the Yankees’ long reliever/spot starter. It’s unfortunate that it took an injury to Luis Cessa to open the door for German but I am glad he’s here. The Yankees certainly need to explore potential Plan B’s but for now, let’s see what the kid can do. In my mind, A.J. Cole probably represents the next option. I’d prefer to see him over recent returnee David Hale.
When word spread that Monty had left Tuesday’s game after seven pitches, Yankees Twitter started clamoring for Chance Adams. While admittedly I am one of those who believe Adams is destined for the bullpen in a long-term view, his numbers at Triple A this year simply do not support an argument for his promotion. So far this season for the Scranton/Wilkes-Barre RailRiders, Adams is 0-2 in five starts. He has given up 24 hits in 24 2/3 innings and 14 earned runs (including four home runs). His ERA is an unsightly 5.11 and his WHIP is the highest it has ever been (1.42). He is not ready. Justus Sheffield is the Yankees best pitching prospect (in my opinion) and he is killing it in Double A. Okay, “killing it” might be a bit too strong at 1-2, but he’s struck out 39 guys in 28 innings. Only one batter has connected for a home run off Top Sheff and he’s limited teams to seven total earned runs for 2.25 ERA. I think Sheffield has earned a promotion to Triple A, but he’s not ready for The Show just yet. My personal favorite pitching prospect is Albert Abreu but he’s further away (has only made one start in High A after returning from injury).
We’re probably a good month and a half to two months away from teams legitimately talking trades for starting pitchers. Some have speculated the Yankees should go after Madison Bumgarner of the San Francisco Giants. MadBum is currently on the DL but when healthy, he’s one of the best when the calendar turns to October. I’d love to have the guy on the Yankees. I just don’t think the Giants will trade their best pitcher who has meant so much to the organization. But if he could be pried loose, I’d have to problem giving up guys like Clint Frazier and Chance Adams for him.
For now, I hope Domingo German takes the job as fifth starter and runs with it. I don’t expect him to be as good as Monty but as long as he keeps the Yankees in games, life will be good.
Photo Credit: AP (Kathy Willens)
The Yankees play an afternoon matinee today in the final game of their four-game set with the Houston Astros. Win or lose, this has been a great road trip for the Yankees. Worst case, they had back to the Bronx with a 5-2 record for the latest travel. But to win six of seven would be fantastic. Lance McCullers, Jr always seems to rise to the occasion against his father’s former team, but as the Yankees showed Dallas Keuchel yesterday, no one is invincible. I am looking for Masahiro Tanaka to continue the string of outstanding pitching performances in this series. A few homers from Aaron Judge, Giancarlo Stanton and Gary Sanchez would not hurt. If it involves another implosion by Ken Giles, all the better.