|Photo Credit: USA TODAY Sports (Kim Klement)|
Now arriving at Steinbrenner Field…everybody!
Today is the full reporting date for the New York Yankees with the arrival of all remaining position players. It’s an exciting day for the Yankees Universe as the Pinstripers begin preparations for what hopefully will lead to the 28th World Championship for MLB’s most storied franchise and our favorite team.
Even though the Yankees were not in the news, it was a very active Saturday night around Major League Baseball last evening.
The evening started with news that the Tampa Bay Rays had acquired first baseman/DH C.J. Cron from the Los Angeles Angels. The Cron move, from the Angels perspective, makes sense. Shohei Otani is expected to take DH time away from Albert Pujols, which will force Pujols to play more first base than he did last year (143 games at DH, 6 games at first). Luis Valbuena has the ability to handle both infield corners, whereas Cron was strictly 1B/DH, making the latter the more expendable of the two. I honestly do not understand the move from the Rays perspective. They have a need at first base given that Lucas Duda and Logan Morrison, last year’s first basemen, are both currently free agents and not expected to re-sign with the Rays. But to make room for Cron, they designated outfielder Corey Dickerson, the Rays’ sole representative on last year’s AL All-Star team, for assignment. Dickerson hit .282 last season with 27 home runs and 62 RBI’s (carrying a respectable .815 OPS). The Rays either have a specific trade in mind or they know they have good trade alternatives to consider for Dickerson who will never see the waiver wire.
The Rays weren’t finished. They followed the Cron trade by sending starter Jake Odorizzi to the Minnesota Twins for shortstop Jermaine Palacios. While I did not want a fly ball pitcher like Odorizzi pitching for the Yankees at Yankee Stadium, I was surprised by the low cost for Minnesota to acquire the pitcher. Zack Littell, one of the prospects that the Yankees sent to the Twins in last year’s head-scratching trade for Jaime Garcia, is rated significantly higher among prospects in the Twins organization than Palacios. Good move by the Twins, but apparently, Tampa Bay Rays GM Erik Neander was drunk-dialing his friends last night. His first words this morning probably were, “OMG, I did what?” Maybe Yankees GM Brian Cashman should have called Neander last night to ask about Chris Archer.
The evening was capped by the long-awaited and much-anticipated free agent signing of first baseman Eric Hosmer by the San Diego Padres. Hosmer joins the now bearded former Yankee Chase Headley in lovely San Diego. Hosmer’s deal has two components. 5 years guaranteed for $105 million, with an opt-in for an additional 3 years and $39 million after 2022. Agent Scott Boras ensured that the contract was front-loaded for his client in what has been a very stagnant free agent market. The Hosmer signing has ramifications for several other players. Hosmer was viewed as a potential fall-back for the Boston Red Sox if they are unsuccessful in their stare-down with free agent outfielder J.D. Martinez. The move also increases the likelihood Mike Moustakas re-signs with the Kansas City Royals. The Royals preferred Hosmer over Moustakas but now that Hosmer is off the table, the Royals will most likely attempt to bring back Moose Tacos, eliminating any thoughts that the third baseman might accept a one year pillow contract with the Yankees.
It’s only been a few days but I am very impressed with how Gleyber Torres has handled himself this spring. He’s so young (21) but he shows maturity beyond his years. He has made a very strong effort to converse in English which is never an easy thing to do. Most of us raised with English as our primary language struggle with it. Torres wants to make the Opening Day roster but he has stated he would understand if he has to go to the minors to start the season. His words, from what I’ve seen, are team-oriented and not selfish like some players. He is my favorite to be the Yankees starting second baseman, either on Opening Day or within a few weeks after the season has started. Even though the Yankees have publicly stated that service time will not be a consideration, I am convinced the Yankees, given a choice, would wait to start Gleyber’s service time clock to delay free agency by a year. He is an exciting player and once he grabs second base, he’ll be a long-term fixture in the Bronx.
|Photo Credit: New York Post (Charles Wenzelberg)|
It may be inevitable that Manny Machado and the Yankees join forces after the season, but I have reservations. Manny will head into the season as Baltimore’s starting shortstop, his preferred position, and is making comments that he expects to player there for a very long time. According to Machado, “This is where my heart has always been, this is what I’ve wanted to do. This is what I’ve always wanted to do. This what I came into this world to do — to play shortstop at the big league level. Finally, Buck and the Baltimore organization are giving me the opportunity to go out there and do what I can at that position and show myself. That’s been my dream all along. I’m really looking forward to it.” Machado added, “Once I do it this year, it’s not something that’s just switching off. I’m making the transition. Hopefully, I want to stay there and continue doing it. This is where my heart has always been. Finally getting an opportunity to do it for a full season. I’m looking forward to it, and hopefully I can continue playing [shortstop] for a long time.” I’ve seen comments say the Yankees would/should move Didi Gregorius to third base to accommodate Machado. I am sorry but that’s not a price I think the Yankees should pay. Didi has earned the right to be the team’s starting shortstop. He’s such a team guy that I am sure he’d make the move if asked, but why should he? I like Machado but there are other options. I really hope that Miguel Andujar grabs third base this year and runs with it, eliminating the need for Machado. The plan for next offseason should not be ‘Machado or Bust’ unless he recognizes that the only path to the Bronx is and should be third base. Andujar has the ability to make this entire issue moot.
|Photo Credit: Getty Images (Jonathan Daniel)|
Here are the number assignments for the Yankees coaching staff (thanks to Bryan Hoch of MLB.com):
17-Aaron Boone, Manager
59-Josh Bard, Bench Coach
60-Mike Harkey, Bullpen Coach
64-Carlos Mendoza, Infield Coordinator/Quality Control Coach
53-Phil Nevin, Third Base Coach
63-P.J. Pilittere, Assistant Hitting Coach
58-Larry Rothschild, Pitching Coach
62-Marcus Thames, Hitting Coach
50-Reggie Willits, First Base Coach/Outfield Instructor
It’s going to be fun to watch the coming days at Steinbrenner Field. Granted, it will be a disappointment if this year’s team falls short of its quest for a World Championship, but the ride is going to be magnificent. Welcome Yankees, one and all! Let’s get to work.
|Photo Credit: Getty Images|
|Photo Credit: New York Daily News (Corey Sipkin)|
Aaron Boone is present and accounted for in Tampa…
As we bear down on the reporting date for pitchers and catchers (with many players already at camp) in a few days, it has continued to be very quiet for the Yankees and their primary division rival, the Boston Red Sox.
It really does not feel like there is any team willing to match or exceed the alleged offer made to free agent outfielder J.D. Martinez by the Red Sox. There has been some talk that the Arizona Diamondbacks could come up with a $100 million contract offer but they’d need to move salary to make it happen (sounds like the Yankees and their interest in free agent starting pitcher Yu Darvish except their ‘Jacoby Ellsbury-like’ albatross is the heavy contract of starting pitcher Zack Greinke who at least remains a vital part of the team’s plans). Martinez would prefer to play right field which probably makes Phoenix more desirable (to him) than Boston but I remain convinced that dollars will win in the end and that Martinez will be on display at Fenway Park as the team’s primary DH. There’s always the chance they could trade Jackie Bradley, Jr and move Andrew Benintendi to center but that would weaken the outfield defense.
|Photo Credit: Getty Images (Jennifer Stewart)|
If the Red Sox fail to sign Martinez, names like Mike Moustakas and Logan Morrison have been mentioned. None are easy fits. Signing Moose Tacos would require an adjustment with plans for young starting third baseman Rafael Devers. Morrison probably makes more sense as he could share 1B and DH with Mitch Moreland. Nevertheless, I really feel the Red Sox will persevere and eventually sign Martinez. The Red Sox know that they need a big bopper to compete with the Yankees this year. I am not quick to say the Yankees are the superior favorites in the AL East. I feel the Red Sox are the champions until proven otherwise. I also expect the Red Sox starting rotation to be stronger this year, with bounce backs by David Price and Rick Porcello. It was great that Chris Sale couldn’t get a victory against the Yankees last year, but the odds of that happening again are similar to the odds of the Yankees successfully trading Ellsbury. Boston is not going away and the Yankees won’t be sneaking up on anybody this year like they did in 2017. Baseball Prospectus released its annual PECOTA projections last week and they have the Yankees winning the division by 9 games over the Red Sox with 96 wins. I think the division will be much closer than that, especially if the Sox are successful in snagging Martinez. I have been a Yankees fan too long to underestimate the Sox.
PECOTA, for what it’s worth, projects Aaron Judge with a batting average of only .247 (really?), with 37 home runs and 94 RBI’s. Giancarlo Stanton is projected at .259, 41 home runs and 106 RBI’s. Gary Sanchez is not far behind with .269 BA, 34 homers and 97 RBI’s.
The one that really stands out to me is first baseman Greg Bird. The projection has him getting over 500 plate appearances, while batting .246 with 28 homers and 86 RBI’s. I am really hopeful that this is the year that Bird finally stays healthy. I love his swing and his bat in the stacked Yankees lineup. But until he proves that he can stay on the field for the duration of the season, I am going to be a bit skeptical.
|Photo Credit: New York Daily News (Andrew Savulich)|
My fear is that the Yankees have to lean on Tyler Austin at first base more heavily than expected. I guess all things considered that’s better than rolling out Chris Carter, but I’d prefer no question marks at first base as the Yankees attempt to break in rookies at second and third bases.
The Tampa Bay Rays might actually play in Tampa…
On Friday, the Tampa Bay Rays announced that they’d like to build a new stadium in Ybor City, a historic Latin community northeast of downtown Tampa. There are many hurdles before it can come to fruition, but I hope the Rays are successful. I don’t know much about Tampa politics but it makes more sense to have the Rays in Tampa than St Petersburg. Watching a baseball game at Tropicana Field always feels like watching a game in an oversized warehouse. I really hope that Rays principal owner Stuart Sternberg is successful in getting his stadium initiative approved and funded. This seems like such a win-win situation for the Rays and the greater Tampa metropolitan area.
|Photo Credit: Tampa Bay Times (Marc Topkin)|
Ybor City is about five miles east of Steinbrenner Field and Raymond James Stadium, home of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.
I don’t like the smell of that rumor…
Speaking of the Rays, Ken Rosenthal of The Athletic reported this week that the Yankees had checked in on Rays starter Jake Odorizzi. Odorizzi is only 27 (28 in late March) but the right-hander had a down year in 2017. He was 10-8 with 4.14 ERA in 28 starts. He only struck out 127 batters while walking 61, the worst K/BB ratio of his career. A fly-ball pitcher, he gave up 30 home runs, which obviously would not play well in Yankee Stadium. One Rays blog proposed sending Odorizzi and reliever Alex Colome to the Yankees for outfielder Clint Frazier and a low-level lottery ticket. I wouldn’t do it. I would consider sending Frazier to Tampa for a trade circled around Chris Archer, but not Odorizzi.
|Photo Credit: Getty Images (Mark Cunningham)|
“Odo” would not be a significant upgrade over any of the starters in the current Yankees rotation so I dismiss the thought that the Yankees might be interested. I’ll gladly take a promising young arm like Chance Adams or Justus Sheffield over Odorizzi. The only reason you’d make a trade for Odorizzi would be on his potential as a breakout candidate but I’d prefer the in-house options…and keeping Red Thunder in pinstripes.
But wait, weren’t we part of the exciting young Yankees?…
Yesterday, Tyler Kepner of The New York Times wrote an article about which teams stand a chance in 2018. It was kind of sad looking for the photo that he posted with the caption, “The Yankees reached the American League Championship Series last season, but fell short against the Astros.” Of the recognizable faces, only one player and one coach remain from this pic taken just last October.
|Photo Credit: The New York Times (Chang W Lee)|
Joe Girardi can now be found on the MLB Network sporting a suit and defending his managerial choices during last season’s post-season. Rob Thomson is helping set up training camp in Clearwater, Florida for the Philadelphia Phillies as new manager Gabe Kapler’s bench coach and most likely the lead training camp organizer. No word about the future plans for former hitting coach Alan Cockrell, seen in the photo standing next to current hitting coach Marcus Thames. Yankees centerfielder Aaron Hicks looks at a trio of ex-Yankees. Todd Frazier will soon be headed to Port St Lucie, FL for the New York Mets; Starlin Castro, assuming he is not traded, will go to Jupiter, FL for the Miami Marlins; while Chase Headley returns to the Valley of the Sun in Peoria, AZ to play for his original team, the San Diego Padres. Hicks, as we know, will help ensure that Jacoby Ellsbury is the most expensive bench player in baseball. Thames, I am sure, is salivating at the opportunity to work with Giancarlo Stanton, Aaron Judge, Gary Sanchez, Didi Gregorius, Greg Bird, and others. Good times…
|Photo Credit: Getty Images|
|Photo Credit: Brad Penner, USA TODAY Sports|
And Thus Endeth the Cole Rumors…
The trade rumor that wouldn’t go away…did. The Pittsburgh Pirates finally traded their so-called ace to the Houston Astros for a package that included reliever Joe Musgrove (a speculated middle-of-the-rotation starter type), third baseman Colin Moran, reliever Michael Feliz, and minor league outfielder Jason Martin. Moran, former Major Leaguer B.J. Surhoff’s nephew, was the Astros’ seventh-rated prospect according to MLB.com.
If the Yankees did, in fact, offer Clint Frazier, Chance Adams, and Miguel Andujar to the Pirates, Pittsburgh GM Neal Huntington didn’t stop until he could find a much worse package for Steel Town. In reality, the trade shows that GM Brian Cashman never offered the much talked about packages for Cole. It’s been said that he may have only offered Clint Frazier OR Chance Adams. The Yankees were clearly not as high on Cole as the Astros were.
I’m glad the page can finally be turned. I am in favor of adding a starting pitcher only if it upgrades the current starting rotation. After completion of the one-year contracts for all the arbitration-eligible players, the Yankees have approximately $22 million left before they hit the luxury tax threshold (which is, of course, a hard “salary cap” in the Hal Steinbrenner Universe) of $197 million. The Yankees will not use all of that money so to say that they have $22 million left to spend is a bit of a misnomer. They need to set aside $2 million in case CC Sabathia hits his bonus milestones and there’s no way that Team Hal will bring payroll (AAV) tightly against the threshold. He’ll want a buffer and of course there needs to be enough room to play at the trading deadline. Only the Yankees truly know how much money they have left to spend.
If the Yankees did sign a free agent pitcher like Yu Darvish or Alex Cobb, it is a certainty that the contract of Brett Gardner or David Robertson would be moved to make room. With the money the Yankees would have to include with Jacoby Ellsbury if they could entice him to waive his no-trade clause, I don’t think moving him would provide enough salary space for a big ticket purchase. They’d have to find a team willing to take at least half of his current salary and honestly I don’t think that team exists.
Chris Archer, we’re coming for you. With Cole out of the picture, the pitcher most likely to draw top speculation as the guy targeted for the Yankees, it is the talented 29-year-old righthander of the Tampa Bay Rays. Of course, it’s possible that we could start hearing Michael Fulmer’s name again but both men continue to carry high price tags. If he doesn’t get a viable role for the 2018 Yankees (i.e., trade of Gardner or Ellsbury to make way), Frazier would look very good in Detroit’s outfield.
Even despite the current stagnant free agent market, I don’t think either Mike Moustakas or Todd Frazier will accept a one-year “pillow” contract regardless of what happens between now and training camp. I like the left-handed bat of Moustakas but I think he’ll eventually end up with the St Louis Cardinals.
At this point, there is not really much left to do for the Yankees except make preparations to to start training camp in a month. Now that long-time coach Rob Thomson (annual organizer of training camp) is in Philadelphia, third base coach Phil Nevin and others will have to step up and deliver for new manager Aaron Boone. I am looking forward to the results of their preparation and organization as they host the members and challengers for the 2018 New York Yankees.
Go ahead, underestimate Didi Gregorius…
The MLB Network has been reviewing their top ten lists at each position, but they blew it for shortstops. The omission of Didi Gregorius is wrong. There’s no way that I’d trade Didi for half of the guys on this list:
Tim Beckham over Didi is a joke. Trevor Story was struggling to hold his job last season and it’s only a matter of time until Rockies top prospect Brendan Rodgers pushes him out of the way.
That’s fine. Pitch to Didi like you think he’s an afterthought in the Yankees lineup and let’s see what happens.
Congratulations to Tyler Austin…
Tyler Austin proposed to his long-time girlfriend, Stephanie Dana, over the weekend and she said yes. Hopefully this is a sign that 2018 is shaping up to be a fantastic year for the young Yankees first baseman/outfielder. Congrats to Tyler and Stephanie!
The New York Mess…
The Mets are really going to sign free agent first baseman Adrian Gonzalez? It makes me appreciate every day that I am a Yankees fan. Nothing like pushing a young, promising first baseman (Dominic Smith) out of the way for an aged ‘has-been’. Jon Heyman’s argument is that A-Gon only costs the minimum and there are questions about Smith’s conditioning. Viable arguments but I am glad that A-Gon is on their team and not mine.
|Photo Credit: Orange County Register|
Life as a Minnesota Vikings fan has not been as rewarding as life as a Yankees fan, but the best Vikings team in years takes the field today against the New Orleans Saints in the NFC playoffs. The winner moves on to the NFC Championship to play the Eagles in Philadelphia. I am hopeful and optimistic that the Vikings will be the ones traveling to the City of Brotherly Love.
The Vikings will feature three active QB’s behind starter Case Keenum. Sam Bradford, who missed the majority of the season with a knee injury, was activated for today’s game. He’ll be joined by fellow QB’s Teddy Bridgewater and Kyle Sloter. With Keenum, Bradford, and Bridgewater all potential free agents after the season, I was very glad to see the Vikings waive backup TE Kyle Carter rather than Sloter to free up a spot for Bradford. Bradford was the starting QB in the season opener when the Vikings beat the Saints. My hope is that all three backups need to do no more than hold clipboards while Keenum continues his season of rejuvenation.
And as always, Go Yankees!
To Trade or Not To Trade…
Just when you thought that things couldn’t get any crazier with the Gerrit Cole trade rumors, they took another wild curve today when it was reported that the Houston Astros had acquired Cole from the Pittsburgh Pirates. Some sports reporters were saying the trade was imminent and MLB Trade Rumors posted their usual ‘to acquire’ headline with Houston Astros to acquire Gerrit Cole. But minutes later, the news of false reports circulated and it was announced that a trade was not imminent and the teams were not close. Huh, what?…
So, as I type this post, Cole is still a member of the Pittsburgh Pirates. I think.
My position remains that the Yankees should not trade for Cole. When the rumors of the potential Astros trade began swirling, there were reports that the Yankees had shut down any further discussions with the Pirates. I like Cole and I think the Yankees, through coaching and environment, could bring out the best in the talented pitcher. But at this point, I do not feel that he is worth the cost of Clint Frazier, Miguel Andujar and a top pitching prospect. However, I do not want to see Cole go to Houston. The strong only get stronger. Cole on that pitching staff would be scary. Dallas Keuchel, Justin Verlander, Cole, Lance McCullers, Jr and Charlie Morton (with Brad Peacock and Colin McHugh on standby). The Astros pitching staff would certainly be more formidable than the Boston Red Sox and Toronto Blue Jays, other teams that have very strong staffs.
I think the Yankees should reserve any decisions for pitching additions until the July trading deadline. They’ll be looking at pro-rated salaries (helpful to meet the goal to stay under $197 million) and will have a much better idea of needs. For me, it’s sign Todd Frazier to a two-year deal and let’s see everyone next month in Tampa.
I’d love to add Yu Darvish or Alex Cobb but those two are not considerations as long as #22 is occupied. The Yankees could gain so much flexibility with payroll if they could move Jacoby Ellsbury, even if it includes paying as much as $15 million per year on what’s left. But it’s tough when Ellsbury seems content to collect his paycheck as the team’s fifth outfielder and no desire to relinquish his right to veto any trade.
The Yankees obviously have a very strong bullpen. I like some of the younger names with potential like Cody Carroll, Ben Heller and Jonathan Holder. This could open some flexibility to trade a more established name later in the season. Someone like David Robertson, whom I would hate to see go, if the Yankees feel they are not going to re-sign him after the season or Dellin Betances who most certainly will be traded at some point if/when he re-establishes his value. Sellers will be more desperate at the trading deadline and the Yankees will have greater strength with potential trade bait.
I think the official position of this website is ‘Get Chris Archer Now!’…
Photo Credit: Chris O’Meara-AP
I am not quite on the ‘Chris Archer or Bust’ train but if I see any indication that the Tampa Bay Rays might be willing to trade him, I wouldn’t be opposed to jumping on the bandwagon. I personally love Marcus Stroman, a native New Yorker, who would fit seamlessly into the Bronx. But admittedly, the chances the Toronto Blue Jays would trade a star pitcher to the Yankees are more remote than even the Rays.
Unless the Yankees can clearly upgrade their starting five, it’s better to stand pat and make air reservations for Tampa.
See ya, Cito…
It’s tough to see former top prospects leave the organization. Granted, when they leave on their own, they were unable to make their mark. Such is the case for former top draft pick Cito Culver. The shortstop was drafted in the first round (32nd pick) of the 2010 MLB Draft. Unfortunately, the bloom faded and Culver could never hit for average. He did manage 12 home runs last year in Triple A but carried a .223 batting average. The organization obviously has many better second base/shortstop types so Culver was never going to realize his dream in Pinstripes. Instead, he has signed a free agent contract with the Miami Marlins who seem to be collecting Yankees prospects. It’s a minor league deal that does not carry an invitation to MLB spring training. I wish Culver the best and hopefully he can insert his name into the picture of the rebuild currently underway on Team Jeter.
Two other former Pinstriped first-round draft picks signed elsewhere in recent weeks. Dante Bichette, Jr (2011) signed with the Colorado Rockies organization and Slade Heathcott (2009), who spent last year in the San Francisco Giants organization, signed with the Oakland A’s. It is kind of sad when you look back over the past decade of Yankees first-round picks and only Clarke Schmidt (2017), Kyle Holder ( 2015), and Aaron Judge (2013) are still part of the Yankees family. Granted, guys like James Kaprielian and Blake Rutherford were parts of major trades last summer but it does show the ratio of first round draft position to MLB team success (with the original team) is very small.
Angel in the Infield…
While you can argue that the big offseason winners so far are the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim (signing of Shohei Otani and infield rebuild with acquisitions of Ian Kinsler and Zack Cozart) or the New York Yankees (the trade for the NL MVP), the biggest winners, to me, are the international prospects freed from the Atlanta Braves organization after being penalized by MLB. They retained their bonuses from the Braves but then were free to sign with new teams and new bonuses. Considering a few of these guys (or more) will eventually wash out, the lyrics of “money for nothing and chicks for free” from that old Dire Straits song echo through my head. Notwithstanding the risk, the Yankees finally signed one of the former Braves prospects when they inked SS Angel Rojas for $350,000. Rojas had received $300,000 from the Braves during the 2017-18 signing period. Welcome to the Yankees family, Angel!
Yanks on Fire…
MLB.com recently posted this pic. If this doesn’t get you fired up for the return of baseball next month, nothing will…
Manny Reasons to make a trade…
I haven’t given a lot of thought to the talent the Yankees might consider offering for Baltimore Orioles third baseman Manny Machado (primarily because I don’t think the O’s will trade him to the Yankees for obvious reasons). But to acquire Machado now rather than wait until after the season to try and sign him through free agency, would you offer a package of Dellin Betances, Chance Adams, Thairo Estrada and Miguel Andujar? I don’t know but it’s one that I would have to think about. I gotta admit that Machado looks pretty good in Pinstripes…
Thank you to the New York Yankees for extending the protective netting at Yankee Stadium. The team issued the follow release on Wednesday:
Expanded Netting to be installed at Yankee Stadium for 2018 Season
The New York Yankees today (Wednesday, January 10th) announced details regarding the additional protective netting that will be installed at Yankee Stadium for the start of the 2018 regular season. Increased coverage will include partially retractable netting attached to the roofs of both dugouts and stationary netting extending beyond the far ends of the dugouts toward the foul poles.
During the design and engineering process, the Yankees consulted with the architecture firm Populous along with netting company Promats Athletics.
Netting attached to the roofs of both dugouts will extend to a height of nine feet above each dugout during games. The bottom portions of these nets will be upwardly retractable by up to three feet, allowing fans the opportunity to fully interact with players during batting practice when the protective batting cage is being employed around the home plate area of the field. Prior to the start of the game, the nets will connect to the dugout roof, where they will remain in place throughout the game.
Beyond the dugout, netting will extend to Section 011 on the first-base side and Section 029 on the third-base side. The netting in these locations will rise to eight feet above the playing field (approximately 5.5 feet above the wall surrounding the field of play), and will remain in place from the start of batting practice through the end of the game. These sections of netting may be removed for soccer matches or other events held at Yankee Stadium.
Dyneema fiber Ultra Cross 1.2 mm-wide knotless netting — the same as was used for Yankee Stadium backstop netting in 2017 — will be utilized for all netting in the 2018 season. Additionally, all netting will be “field green” in color to minimize its visible impact for those in attendance and viewers watching on television.
Installation will begin in February, and will be completed in time for the Yankees’ scheduled 2018 home opener on Monday, April 2 vs. the Tampa Bay Rays.
In addition, a similar protective netting system at George M. Steinbrenner Field is being installed and will be operational for the start of Yankees spring training (Tuesday, February 13).
The fan experience at the Stadium is important but the safety of the fans is the greatest concern. This is an excellent move by the Yankees.
Sooner or later, this off-season has to get busy, right? Waiting…
Credit: Jim McIsaac, Getty Images and Sportsnet.ca
Is No News Good News?…
It’s been very quiet in the Yankees Universe this week. By all accounts, the Yankees’ talks with the Pittsburgh Pirates for starter Gerrit Cole have cooled. Rightfully so if the Pirates are continuing to ask for top prospects in return. The Cole rumors have been like the Yankees long-standing desire for Oakland’s Sonny Gray that was finally consummated last summer. Rumors that stick around for years until they may or may not happen. At this point, I don’t see a trade for Cole but of course things could change if the Pirates lower their demands.
How does the saying go? Sometimes the best trade is the trade never made.
This week, a few sources were indicating the Yankees have interest in free agent Yu Darvish. I’ve liked Darvish for a long time but of course he bombed in the World Series with the Los Angeles Dodgers when he was tipping his pitches. There’s also no way the Yankees can fit him into the budget unless they move other salary (i.e., Jacoby Ellsbury). I don’t see Darvish coming to the Bronx. I thought it was interesting that the Houston Astros talked to Darvish since they used him as a punching bag on their way to a World Series championship. But trying to fit a Darvish contract into Team Hal’s budget would sacrifice greater areas of need on the team and would potentially limit what the Yankees could do next July at the tradling deadline.
There doesn’t seem to be any movement with talks about Arizona’s Patrick Corbin or Detroit’s Michael Fulmer. Fulmer would be the ideal candidate but he’s cost-prohibitive if the Tigers continue to ask for a ‘Chris Sale’ type of return.
|Credit: Mark Cunningham, MLB Photos via Getty Images|
Chris Archer continues to show up on lists as a possible target for the Yankees. I’d certainly be happy with Archer but getting the Rays to trade within the division is probably comparable to trying to get the Orioles to trade Manny Machado to the Yankees. Okay, that might not be the right comparison because I think the hatred of O’s owner Peter Angelos toward the Yankees probably runs a little deeper than other clubs. If we bring up names within the division, it should include Toronto’s Marcus Stroman. I love Stroman and I think the native New Yorker would be an ideal fit in the Bronx. Stroman, 26, is in his second year of arbitration and is projected to make $7.2 million this year (he made $3.4 million in 2017). He won’t be a free agent until the 2021 season. As he gets more expensive, the Blue Jays will probably be more motivated to move the player, especially since they are entering a rebuild phase and need more young talent. Stroman would fit into the chemistry of the Yankees and showed good rapport with Aaron Judge through tweets last fall. But as long as the Blue Jays think they have a shot for a Wild Card, they won’t trade Stroman. I watch Josh Donaldson as the barometer. As long as the Blue Jays keep the 2018 free agent-to-be on the roster, they refuse to admit rebuild. But once he goes, the environment might be right to grab Stroman who would be worth the high cost.
|Credit: Frank Gunn|
I was glad to see the Tampa Bay Rays trade third baseman Evan Longoria to the San Francisco Giants yesterday. Longoria has long been a Yankees killer (seemingly coming up with key hits at the worst moments for the Pinstripers), but Mike Axisa of River Ave Blues was quick to point out that Longoria batted .231/.290/.375 against the Yankees over the past three seasons. As Axisa noted, Longoria is a declining player signed for big money so his departure probably hurts rather than helps the Yankees in the AL East. I think Longoria will be rejuvenated in San Francisco (playing in a packed AT&T Park is substantially different than playing in the sparse Tropicana Field). The Longoria trade removes another third base suitor which indirectly helps the Yankees as it removes options for free agents Mike Moustakas and Todd Frazier (hopefully driving down their asking prices to the point that the Yankees are able to sign one of the players). Sentimentally, I’d prefer Frazier but the Moose Tacos bat is better.
|Credit: Nick Wosika, Icon Sportswire|
The AL East took a different look yesterday with the Longoria trade and the announcement that Orioles closer Zach Britton had torn his achilles tendon in an off-season workout (he will most likely miss the first 4-6 weeks of the season). If the O’s are successful in trading Machado out of the division, it will be an indication that they are ready to move into rebuild phase. The latest AL East moves continue to show further separation between the Yankees and Red Sox and the rest of the division.
Back to Ellsbury, I would love to see the Yankees trade the aging, overpaid, under-performing outfielder. His presence prevents the Yankees from aggressively improving other areas of the team. I laugh when I see some of the “Ellsbury for (Player X)” suggestions, which are at times ridiculous. Ellsbury for Madison Bumgarner…yeah, right. Personally, I’d be happy with Ellsbury’s departure for no return. It is just a matter of how much money (and potentially prospects) the Yankees have package with him to get another team to bite. The Yankees either need to make room for Clint Frazier or trade him. He has nothing left to prove in the Minor Leagues.
The free agent market has been slow to develop this year, but things seem to be breaking. Cleveland’s Carlos Santana signed with the Phillies earlier in the week, and Cleveland countered by signing the Mariners’ Yonder Alonso to be their new first baseman. Up to this point, the free agent signings have primarily been directed at bullpen relief.
The Yankees are running out of time to make some noise before Christmas. I expect next week to be very quiet so if the Yankees do nothing this week, there probably won’t be any activity until January. On the bright side, we are moving closer to Spring Training. I have already bought my Giancarlo Stanton jersey so I am ready.
Yankees 3, Rays 2…
The only way to play drama-free baseball with the Yankees bullpen is to insert Chad Green. Otherwise, it’s going to be a bumpy ride. Joe Girardi made a few pitching moves that left a couple of Yankee pitchers with ruffled feathers but in the end, the Yankees came away with the game and series win over the Tampa Bay Rays. It doesn’t matter how we get the “W” as long as we successfully get the “W”.
The Yankees jumped on Rays starter Chris Archer first. Starlin Castro led off the top of the 2nd inning with a single to center. He was followed by Jacoby Ellsbury who singled to right, putting runners at first and third. Todd Frazier’s single to left center past a diving Adeiny Hechavarria scored Castro while Ellsbury took second. After Clint Frazier struck out, Austin Romine walked to load the bases. Brett Gardner singled through the hole to left, driving in both Ellsbury and the Toddfather. The Yankees led, 3-0. Chase Headley grounded into a double play at second so the Yanks were unable to push any further runs across. Sadly, it would be the last runs the Yankees would see on the day.
Credit: Frank Franklin II-Associated Press
The Yanks had the bases loaded with two outs in the top of the 3rd but Archer struck out Clint Frazier to escape the jam.
While I was wishing that the Yankees had anyone on the mound not named Jaime Garcia, the Rays got a run back in the bottom of the 3rd when Kevin Kiermaier led off with a home run to right field. It was Kiermaier’s second home run in as many days. But that’s the hazard of having Garcia pitch, you know the opponent is going to score runs. The job is to score more than he allows.
To the Yankees’ credit, they made Chris Archer work. While they only got the three 2nd inning runs off him, Archer was gone after surrendering a lead-off double to Gary Sanchez in the top of the 5th. Four innings of work with 92 pitches thrown. Sonny Gray’s complete game on Tuesday was only 2 more pitches than Archer threw with four more innings. It’s unfortunate that the Yankees couldn’t do more damage against Archer in light of their extended at-bats.
Credit: Frank Franklin II-Associated Press
Jaime Garcia got the hook in the bottom of the 5th when he gave up a two-out single to Lucas Duda. With Evan Longoria coming to bat, Joe Girardi didn’t want to take any chances. Chad Green came in and got the final out. I was actually amazed that Garcia made it into the 5th inning without allowing more than one run. He didn’t last long enough to qualify for a win but I can assure you that I did not shed a tear as he was walking off the mound.
Credit: Frank Franklin II-Associated Press
As for Chad Green, he’s a freakin’ rock star. I didn’t want the guy to make the opening day roster yet he’s been Mr Lights Out for the bullpen. He showed off his magic when he struck out the side in the bottom of the 6th. I can see why Joe Girardi gets the urge to leave Green in the game, but I was thankful that he only worked 1 1/3 innings despite his stellar work. I’d rather have Green available on Thursday or Friday as opposed to waiting until Saturday at the earliest. Need to keep this guy ready for frequent work.
Tommy Kahnle took over in the 7th. It provoked Rays manager Kevin Cash to start making moves. First up, Mallex Smith pinch-hit for Peter Bourjos and reached on a single to left field. Corey Dickerson, pinch-hitting for Jesus Sucre, hit into a double play, first to second. It was a good thing because Brad Miller followed, pinch-hitting for Danny Espinosa, and singled to left. If the Yankees had not been able to erase Smith at second, it is very possible that he could have scored on Miller’s hit. Kevin Kiermaier flied out to left to end the drama, but Kahnle did his job. It wasn’t as pretty as Green’s performance but the end result was the same…no runs for the Rays.
The Yankees had a great opportunity to tack on some insurance runs in the top of the 8th inning. Starlin Castro singled to left, Jacoby Ellsbury doubled down the right field line and Todd Frazier was intentionally walked to load the bases. Clint Frazier had first crack but he popped out to first baseman Logan Morrison in foul territory. Next up was Austin Romine but he struck out to end the inning. A huge missed opportunity to get at least a run or two more.
On to the 8th and it was Dellin’s turn. Lucas Duda, potentially facing his last at-bat in his former ball park for this series, flied out to center in front of the warning track. I was worried about him and it would not have surprised me to see the man on the field with the most career HR’s at Citi Field to have parked one. It was not to be but it didn’t stop Evan Longoria, Yankee-killer, from hitting a single up the middle in the next at-bat. Betances always makes me think of former Orioles manager Earl Weaver and his reliever Don Stanhouse, whom Weaver referred to as “Full Pack” in reference to the number of cigarettes he would smoke during Stanhouse’s appearances. Betances does that to me even if I don’t smoke. Dellin struck out Logan Morrison for the second out, but Joe Girardi wasn’t going to take any chances. He made the call to the pen to bring in Aroldis Chapman an inning early. Of course, Chapman walked his first batter (Stephen Souza, Jr) to move Longoria into scoring position at second base. Adeiny Hechavarria, the latest Yankee-killer, singled to shallow center field, scoring Longoria. Hechavarria and Chapman played together in the Cuban Leagues ten years ago so there’s history between the two. Souza moved to third to put runners at the corners. Chapman finally struck out Wilson Ramos, pinch-hitting for Mallex Smith, on a foul tip, but the Rays had closed the gap to 3-2. Those potential insurance runs in the 8th inning sure would have been nice.
The Yankees blew another huge opportunity for runs in the 9th. With Brad Boxberger pitching for the Rays, Brett Gardner led off with a single up the middle. With Chase Headley at bat, Gardy appeared to steal second base but he was sent back to first when it was ruled that Headley’s bat had hit the catcher’s arm for interference. Headley then singled to right, advancing Gardy to third. Gardy probably would have scored had the steal been successful. From there, the offense stalled. Gary Sanchez struck out swinging and Didi Gregorius flied out to left (not deep enough to score Gardy). Headley stole second but it didn’t really matter when Starlin Castro popped out to center to end the inning. Ugh!
Chapman had me on the edge in the bottom of the 9th. He walked the first batter, Curt Casali, a career .197 hitter. WTF??!! Fortunately, from there, Chapman struck out Brad Miller and Kevin Kiermaier. Lucas Duda was able to make it to the plate for one final Citi Field “home” appearance with a chance to send the ball out of the park for a walk-off win. But the Missile rose to the occasion and struck out Duda for the final out. The Yankees win!
The Yankees (79-66) moved back to three games behind Boston with the win. The Red Sox fell to the Oakland A’s, 7-3. The Baltimore Orioles beat the Toronto Blue Jays, 2-1, so they recaptured third place from the Tampa Bay Rays. The O’s trail the Yanks by 7 1/2 games entering play today. The Minnesota Twins held off the San Diego Padres, 3-1, in extra innings to remain three games behind the Yankees in the Wild Card Standings.
Jaime Garcia was apparently very upset with Joe Girardi about the early hook but I could care less what Garcia thinks. His Yankees career will be over soon. There’s no way he is a member of the 2018 Yankees.
Credit: Charles Wenzelberg-New York Post
Chad Green (5-0) picked up Garcia’s win with his stellar relief effort. Aroldis Chapman captured his 18th save despite the high wire act.
I was very grateful that those late missed scoring opportunities didn’t come back to bite the Yankees. As we saw, they very possibly could have. The Yankees will need to play better at home in the upcoming series if they want to continue to win.
Next Up: Baltimore Orioles at Yankee Stadium, Bronx, New York…
Having completed the short stay in Queens, the Yankees return to home sweet home to face the fading Baltimore Orioles for a long four-game set. The O’s generally play the Yankees very tough so they’ll be looking to play the role of spoiler for this series. If there is anything I’ve learned over the years it is to never underestimate Orioles manager Buck Showalter.
Here are the scheduled pitching match-ups:
Orioles: Wade Miley (8-12, 4.96 ERA)
Yankees: Masahiro Tanaka (11-11, 4.82)
Orioles: Jeremy Hellickson (2-4, 6.54 ERA)
Yankees: Luis Severino (12-6, 2.96 ERA)
Orioles: Ubaldo Jimenez (5-10, 6.75 ERA)
Yankees: CC Sabathia (11-5, 3.85 ERA)
Orioles: Dylan Bundy (13-9, 4.03 ERA)
Yankees: Sonny Gray (9-10, 3.17 ERA)
October is coming. Live it, feel it. Now is the time for the Yankees to make a charge!
Odds & Ends…
Game 2 of the International League Governor’s Cup Finals goes to the Scranton/Wilkes-Barre RailRiders. The RailRiders beat the Durham Bulls, 4-0, behind stellar pitching from Domingo German (7 innings, one hit, no runs, three walks and eight K’s) and two relievers. The Bulls featured an inning of relief from former Yankees starter Nathan Eovaldi, who is rehabbing from Tommy John surgery. Nasty Nate pitched an inning of scoreless relief for the Bulls, giving up two hits and striking out one. The series is tied. Game 3 will be tonight at PNC Field in Moosic, PA. Chance Adams will be on the mound for the RailRiders, while the Rays top prospect, Brent Honeywell, will pitch for the Bulls.
The news wasn’t so good in Trenton, NJ where the Thunder dropped Game 2 of their Eastern League Championship series to the Altoona Curve by a score of 4-2. The losing pitcher was Justus Sheffield who had been part of a no-hitter during his previous outing. The series now shifts to Altoona, PA this evening with the Curve needing to win just one game for the best-of-five championship. Will Carter (3-1, 3.26 ERA) gets the start for the Thunder.
Have a great Thursday! Not asking for much today…just a win! Go Yankees!
All is right in the world again…
Yankees win and the Orioles do not. Two to three weeks ago, who would’ve guessed that the Yankees best pitcher would be CC Sabathia and Masahiro Tanaka its worst. Thanks to CC’s strong performance, the three runs scored by the Yankees in the second inning would be all they needed in the 3-2 win over the Tampa Bay Rays.
Despite the run-scoring single by Didi Gregorius and a two-run homer by Brett Gardner, Chris Archer showed why he would be a prime trade target for the Yankees. He struck out twelve Bombers in 6 1/3 innings but couldn’t overcome CC or the Yanks bullpen.
The play of the game was Aaron Judge’s diving backhanded catch of a deep fly by Evan Longoria with a runner on base. If Judge was two inches shorter, he never would have made the catch! He needed every bit of his 6’7” frame to reach the fly but much to the surprise of Rays base runner Corey Dickerson, who was doubled off first, he did.
Credit: Associated Press
Sabathia (4-2) went five innings for the win. In 95 pitches, he only allowed four hits, two runs (one earned) and one walk. He had six strikeouts. The Yanks bullpen trio of Chad Green, Tyler Clippard and Dellin Betances contributed four innings with no hits or runs, one walk, and five strikeouts. Betances earned his second save since Aroldis Chapman went on the 10-Day DL.
Didi Gregorius was 4-for-4, matching his career high for hits. Both Aaron Judge and Matt Holliday whiffed four times in 0-for-4 days.
The Yankees (25-16) recaptured first place in the AL East, thanks to Marco Estrada and the Toronto Blue Jays. The Jays defeated the Baltimore Orioles, 3-1, to allow the Yanks to re-take a half-game lead.
The Tyler Austin Watch…
In his second game for the AA-Trenton Thunder, Tyler Austin was 1-for-2, a single, in the Thunder’s 1-0 loss to the Portland Sea Dogs. He played first base and was replaced by Billy Fleming after two at-bats. The game also saw the AA debut of reliever Jose Mesa, Jr (son of the former major leaguer) for the Thunder. He pitched three innings with no hits or runs, but did allow two walks while striking out two, in relief of tough-luck loser Yefry Ramirez (6 IP, 4H, 1R/ER, 2BB, and 8SO).
In related news, Chris Carter was 0-for-3 for the Yankees in Tampa. If Austin continues to hit and Carter does not, we know how this story is going to end. Or how it should end.
The Scranton/Wilkes-Barre Shuttle…
Prior to Sunday’s game, the Yankees recalled reliever Bryan Mitchell and returned Giovanny Gallegos to AAA.
Credit: Elsa/Getty Images
Speaking of Scranton/Wilkes-Barre…
The Yankees top prospect, shortstop Gleyber Torres, has been elevated to the RailRiders. In 32 games, Torres hit 5 home runs and drove in 18 runs. He batted .273 and stole 5 bags. The 20-year-old, who can also play second and third, is just a stone’s throw away from the Bronx. Current theory has Torres taking second base for the Yankees when he is ready, with Starlin Castro sliding to third.
|Credit: Matt Rourke/AP|
I cannot say SWB without mentioning righty Chance Adams. Through two games, Adams is 1-1 with a 1.50 ERA. He has pitched 12 innings, allowing six hits and two runs. He has walked three batters while striking out eleven. Adams was the loser in Friday’s 2-1 pitcher’s duel loss to Aaron Slegers and the Rochester Red Wings.
Pitching Match-ups for Yankees-Royals…
The Yankees are back in the Bronx for a four-game set against the Kansas City Royals, their opponent prior to the just-completed Tampa Bay Rays series. The Yankees took two of three in Kansas City, losing only the final game of the series.
Royals: Jason Vargas (5-2, 2.03 ERA)
Yankees: Michael Pineda (4-2, 3.42 ERA)
Royals: Danny Duffy (3-3, 2.97 ERA)
Yankees: Jordan Montgomery (2-3, 4.81 ERA)
Royals: Jason Hammel (1-5, 6.20 ERA)
Yankees: Luis Severino (2-2, 3.64 ERA)
Royals: Nathan Karns (2-2, 4.17 ERA)
Yankees: Masahiro Tanaka (5-3, 6.56, Yikes!)
Honestly, I would have skipped Tanaka this run through the rotation. He needs to work on the mental side to get back to the basics to re-establish his splitter and slider. Karns was a late announcement for Thursday’s game. The veteran is dealing with forearm stiffness. If he is unable to go, I’d probably expect to see Chris Young (0-0, 6.85 ERA) filling in. I seriously hope that we’ll see an improved Tanaka on Thursday but admittedly my glass is half-empty…
Have a great Monday! Let’s make it two in a row!