Blue Jays 4, Yankees 2…
The Yankees had their chances on Tuesday but like so many games recently, they struggled to get runs across the plate and left too many runners in scoring position stranded. Rookie first baseman Garrett Cooper was 2-for-3 with 2 RBI’s, representing the sole offense for the Yankees, in their loss to the Toronto Blue Jays. On the surface it looks like a good night for him, but it could have been much more as he came up twice with the bases loaded. But you can’t pin the loss on Cooper, this was a team effort.
The tone of the game was set early. Jose Bautista led off the bottom of the first with a double to right. He moved to third on a sacrifice bunt by Russell Martin. Josh Donaldson, who entered the game with only 13 home runs, blasted a two-run shot to center. In retrospect, it could have been worse as a subsequent walk and double put runners at second and third, but Sabathia was able to get Kevin Pillar to ground out to end the inning.
Credit: Steve Russell-Toronto Star
The Yankees had a good opportunity in the top of the 2nd inning against Blue Jays starter J.A. Happ when both Chase Headley and Didi Gregorius singled. Unfortunately, Todd Frazier hit into a 6-4-3 double play to eliminate Gregorius. With Headley on third, Garrett Cooper singled to right to score the Yankees first run. But that’s all the Yankees would get as Ronald Torreyes grounded out.
After an easy second inning for Sabathia, the third inning looked like the first. Russell Martin singled to left, and was followed by Josh Donaldson who hit his second homer of the game, a fly ball to the second deck in left. It gave the Blue Jays a 4-1 lead. A great running catch by Ronald Torreyes with Kendrys Morales in scoring position prevented any further runs.
Sabathia left the game after three innings as a result of knee pain. It was the worst pain that Sabathia has felt since he started wearing a larger knee brace several years ago. After the game, Sabathia said “It’s just hard to land. It’s hard for me to finish my pitches. It’s just hard for me to get over my front side and finish my pitches. When I can’t do that, I don’t know where the ball is going.” There’s no immediate word if Sabathia will miss his next start but he’ll head back to New York for further tests. We’re reaching the point where you have to wonder if every Sabathia start might be his final start for the Yankees. If Sabathia does miss time, Jordan Montgomery seems like the best alternative as a replacement but given he is at Triple A working under an innings limit, a short term option would probably be Bryan Mitchell.
Mitchell replaced Sabathia in the fourth, and provided a Chad Green-like performance. He went four innings, allowing only three hits and no runs.
The Yankees had a golden opportunity in the 6th inning. With one out, both Gary Sanchez and Chase Headley walked. After a fly out by Didi Gregorius, Todd Frazier hit a grounder to short and reached first base, just ahead of the throw, after a challenge overturned the on the field call which had ruled Frazier out at first. Garrett Cooper came up with his first bases loaded opportunity but failed to deliver with an inning-ending fly to right.
The Yankees offense was thwarted again in the 7th. Ronald Torreyes led off with a single, but was erased when Brett Gardner grounded to second for a double play. Clint Frazier followed with a single, but it was for naught when Aaron Judge struck out.
The last great chance came in the 8th. Gary Sanchez was hit with a pitch from Jays reliever Ryan Tepera on the left wrist (he stayed in the game after being checked out by the medical staff and Joe Girardi). Chase Headley was also hit by a pitch, after a challege review which showed the ball hitting Headley’s foot, to reach base. Didi Gregorius popped up in the infield for the first out, but Todd Frazier walked. It brought Garrett Cooper to the plate for the second time with the bases loaded. He hit a sacrifice fly to left which was deep enough to score Sanchez but you couldn’t help but wonder what could have been with a single or double in at least one of those bases loaded situations. The other runners were left stranded when Ronald Torreyes lined out.
The Yankees went down quietly in the 9th with Jays closer Roberto Osuna. It was another game of lost opportunities. The Blue Jays pitched carefully to Aaron Judge which led to two walks, but it probably wasn’t really necessary as Judge was hitless in three official at-bats (striking out twice). Clint Frazier was 1-for-4 but struck out three times. Overall, the Yankees left 10 men on base. It’s tough to watch the Boston Red Sox pick up former Yankee Eduardo Nunez and he hits everything in sight (16-for-40 with 8 extra base hits) and the Yankees can’t seem to get any extra base hits when they need them the most.
Obviously, it is not a good sign about CC Sabathia’s knee. The years have taken its toll on the pitcher, and he’s question mark every time out at this point (assuming that he is able to come back). Sabathia (9-5) took the loss. The four runs in three innings pushed his season ERA to 4.05. I hope that he’s able to make a successful return as his Yankees career winds down but I can’t say that I am overly optimistic.
Credit: Fred Thornhill-The Canadian Press via AP
The Yankees (59-52) fell four games behind the Boston Red Sox with the loss. The Red Sox defeated Tampa Bay Rays 2-0 behind Chris Sale and his 13 strikeouts. So the Rays remain 2 1/2 games behind the Yankees. The Baltimore Orioles lost 3-2 to the Los Angeles Angels and stayed four games behind the Yankees.
Odds & Ends…
The Yankees recalled RHP Bryan Mitchell to take the roster spot vacated when LHP Jordan Montgomery was optioned to Scranton/Wilkes-Barre. Poor Mitchell had to find a new number since his preferred #55 has been claimed by Sonny Gray. He chose to stay with the matching double digit combo and went with #66. #88, anyone?…
It was good to hear that both Greg Bird and Starlin Castro took batting practice at Rogers Centre yesterday prior to the game. While I am not overly optimistic that we’ll get anything out of Bird this year, I am pulling for the player to finally show a glimpse of what we saw during Spring Training. Ronald Torreyes has softened the blow of Castro’s absence but it will be good to get the regular second baseman back on the field again.
OF Aaron Hicks has been re-assigned to Double A Trenton as part of his continuing rehab assignment. He may be activated for this weekend’s series against the Boston Red Sox in the Bronx. We’ll soon find it if it is Clint Frazier or someone else that goes down to Scranton/Wilkes-Barre to make room. If Frazier stays, the losers are probably Garrett Cooper (potential option to Triple A) and Jacoby Ellsbury (fifth behind the other four outfielders).
The Blue Jays scratched today’s scheduled starter, Cesar Valdez. Valdez was placed on the DL with a shoulder injury. Nick Tepesch (0-1, 5.40 ERA) will start in his place against Masahiro Tanaka.
It was a very nice gesture by the Colorado Rockies to hang the late Don Baylor’s jersey in their dugout for yesterday’s game at Progressive Field in Cleveland against the Indians. Baylor was the first manager in Rockies history, serving from 1993 to 1998. The Rockies will have a tribute planned for Baylor when they return to Coors Field in Denver on August 14th versus the Atlanta Braves. Following Baylor’s passing, Rockies owner Dick Montfort issued the following statement: “He was a big man with an even bigger heart, a friend of so many. His persona will be a part of our club heritage forever. This is a sad day in Colorado and for all of baseball.”
Credit: Tony Dejak-Associated Press
Have a great Wednesday! One more day to Sonny Gray! Let’s Go Yankees!
Mini Cooper he is not…
The Yankees have made their first trade of July 2017 with the acquisition of Garrett Cooper, a first baseman for the Colorado Springs Sky Sox, the Triple A affiliate of the Milwaukee Brewers. When I first heard that the Yankees had traded lefty reliever Tyler Webb to Milwaukee to acquire Cooper, I admit that I was skeptical. I have not been following the Brewers farm system nor did I watch this week’s Triple A All-Star Game. If I had, I would have realized that the Yankees have acquired a promising first baseman which happens to be a great need.
Cooper was named the Pacific Coast League Player of the Week for the week ending July 9th. He was also the starting first baseman for the PCL in the Triple A All-Star Game yesterday. He has steadily progressed through the ranks. He was taken in the 6th round of the 2013 MLB Draft by the Brewers, and is considered a “late bloomer” in the midst of a breakout year. Cooper is currently hitting .366 with 17 HR and 82 RBI in 75 games for the Sky Sox. There’s not much doubt he’ll soon be the latest Baby Bomber in Pinstripes even if he has never played a game for the organization. He’s 26 and is a “big boy” (6’6″, 230 lbs). He has benefited from the altitude of Colorado Springs and playing in a hitters’ league but why not roll the dice.
After watching the Chicago Cubs send their top prospect, outfielder Eloy Jimenez, the #5 prospect in the MLB according to Baseball America’s midseason update, and other prospects to the Chicago White Sox for starting pitcher Jose Quintana, it’s clear that the cost of pitching is astronomical (as if we didn’t know that already). There’s no way I would have signed off on a deal to send Gleyber Torres or even Clint Frazier to the White Sox for Quintana. Let the Cubs fork over the farm. This reinforces that the Yankees should stay the course and continue to build for the next few years and avoid the “quick fix” for the Wild Card. So, I am okay with the under-the-radar moves that do not cost high-ranking prospects.
I hated to see Webb go as I’ve liked the pitcher and I was excited that he finally had his opportunity at the big league level. I felt that he performed well in his few appearances for the Yankees. He obviously was not one of Joe Girardi’s “go to” guys in the pen but he played a valuable support role. I guess all things considered, this was a modest cost for a guy who has torn apart Triple A pitching. How that translates to the Major Leagues only time will tell. But if my name was Ji-Man Choi, I’d probably be packing my bags. Yanks will want to see how Cooper performs in the International League before making his MLB debut but the guy with the similar name to the actor who played Lou Gehrig in The Pride of the Yankees is on his way. If he fields his position, knocks in a few runs, and doesn’t kill rallies by hitting into double plays, he’ll be better than anything we’ve seen yet at first base.
Cooper has been assigned to Scranton/Wilkes-Barre.
Welcome to the Yankees, Garrett!
Where did the excitement of the new season go?…
The season began with so much optimism. The Yankees had the best Spring of any team in Major League Baseball (24-9-1) which was their best Grapefruit League performance since the 2009 World Championship year.
The Yankees may not be World Series contenders this year, but I expected more than a 1-3 start through four games. With 157 games to go, there’s still much baseball to be played. But it’s important to see the team gel with a winning mindset sooner rather than later. It’s not feasible or possible to win every game, but the attitude for expecting to win should be there. With a downward spiral, it’s too easy to get caught up in the losses and the negativity spreads like wildfire.
My concern this month is the schedule. It is not an easy path in April. With two more games to go in Baltimore, the Yankees will play a total of eleven games this month against the AL rival Orioles, Boston Red Sox and Tampa Bay Rays. The series against the Red Sox is at Fenway Park which isn’t exactly an inviting place for the Yankees (or their fans). The Yankees also play the St Louis Cardinals in inter-league play. Mike Matheny’s squad always comes to play. The Yankees really need to get on top of this, and pull out a few stretches of two or three consecutive wins.
Despite Friday’s loss to the Orioles, it was good to see Gary Sanchez connect for his first home run on the season. It is unrealistic to expect 20 home runs in 50 games again, but just getting the first one out of the way helps the mental approach to each at-bat.
Credit: Ron Sachs, The New York Post
Right now, the young trio of Sanchez, Aaron Judge and Greg Bird are all hitting below the Mendoza Line. Sanchez has the best batting average of the three (.167). Judge stands at .133, while Bird, with one hit in 16 at-bats, is a pathetic .063. You’d expect Judge to be the team’s strikeout leader (given Chris Carter is not an every day starter) but he trails Bird by two. It’s sad when the team’s best hitter is Chase Headley (7-for-15).
Collectively, as a team, the Yankees need to start hitting. The formula of a few hitters making contact with the majority of the bats being silent does not work. A few more pitching performances like the one CC Sabathia delivered in the second game of the season would also be nice. With no fifth starter needed until April 16th, the Yankees have cycled once through the rotation. Sabathia gave the only defined quality start. Tanaka’s start may have been the worst of his Yankees career. As we proceed into the second run through the rotation, much better results are expected and needed.
Losing is like negativity. It is very infectious. If the Yankees can start running out a few stretches of consecutive wins, they can change the attitudes and mindset of the team (and its fans).
Let’s see what the second week of the young season will bring…
Tommy John was a good Yankee but I am tired of hearing his name…
The Yankees received bad news regarding top pitching prospect James Kaprielian this week. He has been shut down and placed on the Minor League DL. He underwent a MRI on his pitching elbow (which include dye-contrast). The results have been shared with the Yankees team physician and Kaprielian will now head to Los Angeles to meet with noted Tommy John surgeon Neal S. ElAttrache, M.D. Dr. ElAttrache is the team physician for both the Los Angeles Dodgers and the NFL’s Los Angeles Rams. He also is on the Board of Directors for the famed Kerlan-Jobe Orthopedic Clinic which was co-founded by Dr. Frank Jobe, who pioneered Tommy John surgery.
If Kaprielian needs Tommy John surgery, it’s very possible that we won’t see him again until 2019. With CC Sabathia’s contract up at the end of the year, I had hoped that Kaprielian would be in position to compete for his rotation spot next Spring. Now, his career is in doubt. This is starting to feel like the Andrew Brackman situation. A pitcher with so much promise who was never able to overcome arm injuries, leading to his eventual release and exit from baseball.
With Kaprielian sidelined, the focus will shift to young pitching prospects like Jordan Montgomery, Chance Adams, and Justus Sheffield to lead the way for future rotation help.
I remain hopeful that Kaprielian receives the best possible medical opinion from Dr ElAttrache and if Tommy John surgery is the only answer, I wish him much success on the long journey to recovery and hope that the Major League dream is still within his grasp.
He said, she said…
This seems to be the week of fake news. Two separate reports were leaked, only to be quickly shot down by the Yankees. News reports spread quickly that Yankees prospect Clint Frazier had asked the Yankees to un-retire Mickey Mantle’s number. Both the team and the player quickly denied the reports and Frazier stated that he was only concerned with the front of the jersey and not the back of it. The story obviously got its start from somewhere, whether it was words take out of context or spoken in jest, but I do not believe that Frazier made the request.
The other report was that the Yankees have no intention of re-signing starting pitcher Masahiro Tanaka should he decide to exercise the opt-out clause in his contract at the end of the year. Managing General Partner Hal Steinbrenner stated that no discussions have taken place. The Yankees would be foolish not to consider all their options, and re-signing Tanaka to a new longer term deal does represent risk. He’ll be 29 in November and the slight tear in his Ulnar Collateral Ligament (UCL) is not going to improve without eventual surgery.
Both stories sound like writers fishing for stories. Finding a shred of truth it and then embellishing it for the sake of sensationalism.
Bad trade rising…
The Yankees have made their share of bad trades over the years, but one that doesn’t get much recognition is the trade of infielder Eduardo Nunez to the Minnesota Twins three years ago yesterday. Nunez was subsequently traded to San Francisco and is now their starting third baseman (hitting .400, 8-for-20 so far this season). Meanwhile, the prospect that the Yankees received from the Twins for Nunez (23-year-old lefty Miguel Sulbaran), currently with AA Trenton, has been suspended for 25 games due to a drug policy violation.
Credit: Jessica Kovalcin
While it has not been reported what Sulbaran did to lead to the suspension, it’s safe to say that the Yankees would not make this trade if they had a chance to do it over again.
A memorable Opening Day…
In all my years as a baseball fan, I’ve never attended an Opening Day game. That changed yesterday when I saw the Colorado Rockies open Coors Field for the 2017 season against their division rival, the Los Angeles Dodgers. Although I am a Yankees fan, the Dodgers are my favorite National League team so I have to admit that I was wearing some Dodger blue yesterday.
But the day belonged to the Rockies and their young starting pitcher, Kyle Freeland, who made his Major League debut. Freeland, who was born and raised in Denver, delivered a very solid performance while picking up his first Major League victory. He went 6 innings, giving up only 4 hits and 1 run. He walked 2 and struck out 6. He was never on the ropes and seemed in command for the duration of the game. The Rockies won, 2-1, in a pitcher’s duel (with Hyun-Jin Ryu) which is not something you ever expect to see at Coors Field. The game’s only home run was delivered by backup catcher Dustin Garneau. The Dodgers starting lineup was missing two regulars (Corey Seager and Adrian Gonzalez) although both made their way into the game in later innings. But it wasn’t enough, and Freeland departed with the win.
Credit: The Denver Post
I remember seeing Jake Peavy make his Major League debut in San Diego years ago (against the Yankees) and it always stuck with me throughout Peavy’s career that I was there at the start. I guess I can now say that about Freeland too. Time will tell if he is as successful as Peavy.
Despite pulling for the Dodgers, it was a fun day in the Mile High city. The weather was uncharacteristically warm for this time of year (mid 70’s) and the stadium was energized by its fans. I expected to see more Dodger Blue but Purple was clearly the color of the day.
Winter is coming…
The dawn of the Winter Meetings. It’s is always one of my favorite times of the year. Last year was very quiet for the Yankees but still, so much happens in the first few days of the meetings with free agent signings and trades.
I am very relieved that the owners and the players association agreed on a new Collective Bargaining Agreement. I didn’t really expect a lockout but of course it was always a possibility until the two sides came to an agreement. I understand why the CBA issue held up the Yankees due to the luxury tax implications and uncertainty associated therewith. Now that both sides have a better understanding of the new deal, it should allow the Yankees to begin shaping the 2017 team.
I fully recognize that there will not be wholesale changes. This isn’t 2009 when the Yankees dumped a half billion dollars on top free agents. Sure, I’d love to have Edwin Encarnacion or Jose Bautista on the team but realistically it is not going to happen. Between the two, I’d take Encarnacion but I still don’t think it will happen. The Yankees have a clear need for a solid, clutch-hitting DH but I think they’ll go with either Carlos Beltran or Matt Holliday. Staying in house is an option but that mean DH will be used as a rotation to rest the regulars.
I would love for the Yankees to find a way to move LF Brett Gardner and 3B Chase Headley but in both cases, age + contract make the players hard to move. Gardner would probably be the easier of the two to move. While the Yankees have in-house options to replace Gardner, they’d probably have to go outside to get a replacement for Headley. Miguel Andujar showed in the Arizona Fall League that he is the future at third, but his arrival is still a few years away. I’ve also seen the projections of Gleyber Torres taking over second base, pushing current second baseman Starlin Castro to third. But Torres won’t see the Bronx until late in the 2017 season or sometime in 2018. Despite the absence of immediate help at third, I am still ready to end the Chase Headley story even if he did recover from a horrendous April to have a very good season last year.
Credit: Getty Images
My wish list for this off-season still begins with closer Aroldis Chapman. I am still very hopeful that he’ll find his way back to the Bronx. Kenley Jansen would certainly be acceptable if Plan A does not materialize. I am probably warming up to the idea of a Bronx return for Mark Melancon but I think he’ll either stay in Washington or go to San Francisco. Greg Holland is also an option. I think the Yankees have to move Dellin Betances back to a key setup role where he is better suited. Mariano Rivera, he is not.
As for starting pitchers, I am not opposed to the potential signing of starter Rich Hill. He is older than I would like for a team in transition to youth, but he obviously has a quality arm and would provide rotation stability. He reminds me somewhat of Hiroki Kuroda. A consistent pitcher who can occasionally throw a gem. Not a frontline starter, but a very dependable one. As for trades, I have no idea. I’d love Tampa’s Chris Archer but I don’t think the Rays would trade inter-division and his cost would probably be too high. I liked the Arizona Diamondbacks’ acquisition of Taijuan Walker. A young pitcher who was not fulfilled his potential but the upside is still there. Those are the types of pitchers I’d try to target. I know, it does fall into the high risk, maybe high reward, possible low reward category but look where Jake Arrieta has taken the Chicago Cubs.
It was tough to see pitcher Nathan Eovaldi cut within the last couple of weeks and today’s non-tender of lefty Jacob Lindgren, both players who will miss the 2017 season due to Tommy John surgery. It wasn’t that long ago when Lindgren was tabbed as a can’t miss, fast-track prospect with the potential to make the major league roster the year he was drafted. Injuries have held Lindgren back, but he’s still young enough to recover for a fine professional career. I am hopeful the Yankees find a way to bring both pitchers back into the organization now that they’ve been removed from the 40-man roster.
Next week should be fun. Unlike last year, I am hopeful and optimistic that the Yankees will be active in an attempt to improve the roster and build strength around the emerging young core. We shall see…
For Whom the Beltrans…
Well, it’s finally official. The Yankee fan is finally a Yankee. With today’s introductory press conference, the Yankees have continued to rebuild the team’s offense following the departure of Robby Cano and his bat. Carlos Beltran talked about how he has long looked up to the Yankees organization. The backhanded swipes at the Mets certainly didn’t hurt boosting his stock in the Bronx, particularly after those comments made by Curtis Granderson during his Mets press conference earlier in the off-season (even if the Grandy Man was just being lighthearted).
It’s always nice to see guys who genuinely want to be in the Bronx. Brian McCann certainly conveyed that message and Carlos Beltran did the same today. I think Jacoby Ellsbury is just as excited but his situation was a bit different and he is coming off a World Series championship.
Listening to Brian Cashman and Joe Girardi talk, it clearly sounds as if the Yankees outfield will be consisted of Brett Gardner, Ellsbury, and Beltran. Three centerfielders, with two playing out of position. I know, there are a multitude of reasons for why it makes sense to keep Gardner, but he is really the only major league trading chip and the Yankees still need rotation help. They have not shown any desire to pursue the likes of Matt Garza, Ubaldo Jimenez, or others that can be had for a simple cash outlay. Johan Santana’s name has been bandied about, and I would see no harm as long as the Yankees clearly invest in a Plan B to go with it. My primary hope is that Michael Pineda can finally show us the potential he had in Seattle. But that’s for the #5 spot. The Yankees should roll the dice with the young organization pitchers, including Pineda, for the last position in the rotation but not both #4 and #5. For #4, the Yankees need a proven performer. Santana is a huge health risk, but if healthy…I know, that’s a big IF…he would significantly solidify the rotation and help mask any further regressions by CC Sabathia or Hiroki Kuroda.
It’s unfortunate the Yankees have to keep an eye on the Alex Rodriguez situation to determine what their next moves will be. I just hope they aren’t caught looking while waiting to find out if A-Rod and his behemoth contract will be an obligation for 2014 or not.
But regardless of what happens for the remainder of the off-season, it goes without question that Carlos Beltran was a good signing. The reports have surfaced that free agent outfielder Shin-Soo Choo turned down a 7-year, $140 million deal from the Yankees before they turned to Beltran. I would prefer to go with the 3-year Beltran deal as opposed to locking into 7 years with Choo considering the Yankees are already on an extended hook with Ellsbury. At some point, the young talent in the lower levels of the farm system have to make their way to the surface. I have high hopes for Aaron Judge, and I really hope that Slade Heathcott can bring his game to the next level within the next couple of years.
Much has been written about Beltran replacing the lost production in St Louis when Albert Pujols signed his $240 million deal with the Los Angeles Angels and is now being asked to do the same with Cano opting for money over a win-first mentality. However, there is a big difference. The Cardinals have Allen Craig and Matt Adams as two very capable first baseman. The Yankees are not so lucky at Cano’s former position. There are no immediate farm system solutions. With Beltran now scheduled to start in Ichiro Suzuki’s position, it is a foregone conclusion that either Ichiro or Vernon Wells will soon be an ex-Yankee. Pitcher Brett Marshall may have paid the price for Beltran’s spot, but I expect Ichiro or Wells to go when the Yankees create roster space for their latest additions. The Yankees will have to include cash if they move Ichiro so that makes Wells the more likely one to go given that the Angels are still paying the majority of his salary.
I keep getting sidetracked when the main topic is Beltran but he opens up much discussion in other areas. I am glad that he’s a Yankee and I truly hope the Yankees can make the additional moves that will be necessary to return one of baseball’s great play-off performers to October. Pitching, pitching, pitching…
Meanwhile, at Second Base…
Kelly Johnson, Eduardo Nunez, Corban Joseph…
None of the names are exciting and it’s more likely that Johnson, with a platoon-mate in Nunez, will be asked to cover third if A-Rod is suspended for a lengthy period as expected. Joseph is not ready so the Yankees signed long-time Baltimore Orioles second baseman Brian Roberts. Roberts was once one of the best 2B’s in the game, but injuries have robbed him of playing time the last four years. I do not expect him to be a major force at the position this year assuming that he makes the team. It is a curious move for a beloved Oriole to join a hated AL rival. I know that Mike Mussina did it but he was still in his prime. I know, there’s Jacoby Ellsbury too, but again, that player, despite his past injuries, still has prime years ahead. Roberts has seen his better days. At that point, I’d probably go out of division or out of league even if it sacrificed a few dollars to maintain my legacy with the original team.
Roberts will always be a great Oriole. There’s nothing that he can do to take away his quality years. Hopefully, the Baltimore fans will recognize that it was time for Roberts and the O’s to part ways, particularly given their acquisition of second baseman Jemile Weeks. Mike Mussina had quality years with both the O’s and the Yankees. Roberts will be like Luis Tiant. The best years were with the home team, and the last year or two were with the Yankees.
At this point, it does appear the Yankees will be heading to spring training with Roberts, Nunez and Johnson covering second. However, things will change when the A-Rod drama is finally put to rest. I was surprised the Yankees didn’t try harder for Omar Infante. It’s not often the Kansas City Royals beat the Yankees in free agency.
As for third…
It’s a given that A-Rod will be lost for a certain amount of time. It’s just a question for how long. I would like to see a trade for the San Diego Padres third baseman, Chase Headley, something that has been mentioned on and off for the last few years. We know that it won’t be a return of last year’s third base wannabe, Kevin Youkilis (thwarted by injuries to the surprise of no one). Youk in stating a preference to being closer to his West Coast home, decided to take his family on a one year vacation touring Japan. I am not quite sure how the DL works in the Japanese League but I guess we’ll find out. I loved Wallace Matthews’ quote that Youk will probably be injured on the plane trip to Japan.
Another third base possibility, and former Yank, Casey McGehee, signed with the Miami Marlins. So, like second base, pickings are getting very slim at the infield positions. I fully expect the Yankees to lose one of their promising young catchers in any trade.
I was disappointed to see Boone Logan go. Good for him in signing the three year contract with the Colorado Rockies. Denver is a wonderful city and I do not begrudge anyone who wants to be a part of that community. But still, he was a solid option in the pen for the Yanks and will be missed. To replace him, the Yankees signed former Sox (both White and Red) reliever Matt Thornton. A great lefty, no doubt, but one that is 37. All things considered, I would have preferred a few more years of Logan. I’d like to see a younger guy like Nik Turley take it to the next level but I am fearful that Turley will be a roster casualty with the additional moves the Yankees have yet and still need to make.
I am not sure how I feel about David Robertson as closer. When Mariano Rivera was hurt in Kansas City early in the 2012 season, Robertson failed in his brief appearance as closer. If memory serves correctly, he was injured and it opened the door for Rafael Soriano to grab the job and run with it. If the Yankees opt to go with Robertson, they need another Plan B like Soriano in place. Yes, I know, there are only so many spots on a 25-man roster for Plan B…
On the bright side, catcher and center field are locked up… 😉
I don’t expect much in the way of Yankees news next week so Operation Improvement will have to be resumed in January. Meanwhile, Happy Holidays to All! Enjoy!
Why? Because the Yankees McCann!…
I have to admit that the Yankees’ free agent signing of former Atlanta Braves catcher Brian McCann caught me by surprise. Like so many people did last Saturday, I went to see The Hunger Games: Catching Fire. No sooner than I walked out the theater after the movie, I immediately saw the alerts the Yankees had signed McCann.
I had heard the Yankees were interested in McCann, but so were other teams like the Boston Red Sox, Texas Rangers, and Colorado Rockies. I thought the Rangers were the most likely landing spot. It’s a winning organization in a city that puts more pressure on the local football team. The cost of living is reasonable, and the area is spacious. There’s not too much to dislike about Texas…well, outside of those hot humid summers, the long drives to get anywhere, and the infrequency of trees (at least in North Texas). I also thought the Boston Red Sox might have an advantage with former McCann backup David Ross on the roster. Either Texas or Boston offers the chance for World Series participation.
But in the end, it was the Yankees’ offer (number of years) in combination with the short porch in right field which is very attractive for the left-handed slugger.
I had Brian McCann as my catcher on my fantasy baseball team this year and his health caused me to seek other options. While he was on the DL, I leaned on his Braves replacement (Evan Gattis) among others. So, McCann’s health is an obvious concern. But if healthy, he is a tremendous addition to the team. He gives the Yankees their best offensive threat from the position since Jorge Posada retired. Russell Martin would occasionally get hot, but he is not close to the hitter that McCann is. Plus, McCann’s leadership abilities are well documented. When Chipper Jones retired, he gave a strong recommendation for McCann as a team leader.
Nothing against Francisco Cervelli, but I think he is better suited to backup someone like McCann than to start. He had his moments last year before getting hurt and then the subsequent suspension, but he’ll get his opportunities when McCann rests or moves to DH. I am fine with the number of years on the contract because I think McCann is an excellent bridge to super prospect Gary Sanchez. When Sanchez is ready for the majors, it will be time to slide McCann to first or DH anyway. It also frees GM Brian Cashman to potentially include other catching prospects like Austin Romine or J.R. Murphy is potential trades.
Signing McCann was a great start to the off-season but there is obviously still much work ahead for Cashman and the Yanks.
Where are we?…
As we turn the page to Thanksgiving, the Yankees have their manager, backup shortstop and catcher in the fold. They are rumored to be the leaders for the services of free agent outfielder Carlos Beltran of the St Louis Cardinals, although I have heard he has a preference for staying in the NL (I don’t know if that’s true or not, and I personally believe he’d have even greater success in the American League). I like the idea of Beltran in right.
As it sounds, Robinson Cano’s camp is still asking for something in the neighborhood of $300 million. They’ve dropped “slightly” from the initial figure of $310 million, but anything in the Alex Rodriguez area of contracts is too much…even for arguably the team’s best player. I would rather see the Yankees use the money on multiple key players, shift the offense to other positions and then backfill second base with someone like Omar Infante. I still hope there are compromises made on both sides to bring Cano back to the Bronx, but if it is not meant to be, I don’t want to see the Yankees overspend.
So far, no help for the starting rotation. Several notable free agent pitchers in a market void of any aces have already signed. Dan Haren with the Los Angeles Dodgers, Tim Hudson with the San Francisco Giants, and Ricky Nolasco with the Minnesota Twins. I don’t think the Yankees were linked to any of those guys, but the smaller the free agent pool, the more intense the competition becomes at least for the guys who can win 12-14 games for you. I know the Yankees are rumored to be heavily counting on the posting of Japanese pitcher Masahiro Tanaka if MLB and the Japanese are able to come to an agreement for a new posting system. But you have to wonder what Plan B will be. So far, I have not heard much about Hiroki Kuroda but I would like to see the team try to bring him back for one more year.
The next few weeks will go a long way toward determining how strong and competitive the 2014 Yankees will be.
Coaching staff intact…well, almost…
Several weeks ago, I heard that Joe Girardi’s entire coaching staff would be returning. However, today, I saw that the Arizona Diamondbacks have named Yankees bullpen coach Mike Harkey as their new pitching coach. Congratulations to Mike! Larry Rothschild is not going anywhere so it is good to see Harkey get his opportunity elsewhere. Now, the Yankees will be in the market for a new bullpen coach. Say, I wonder what Mariano Rivera is doing… 😉
Well, that’s all for now. Have a very Happy Thanksgiving and Holiday Season!
Yes, Brian, I want to believe…
“I am excited about the opportunities we have.”
I wish that I could say that was my quote, but unfortunately, I am not feeling as optimistic as GM Brian Cashman who spoke those words.
With the imminent departure of Nick Swisher, Rafael Soriano, and Hiroki Kuroda, combined with another year of age on Alex Rodriguez and Derek Jeter, the future is not looking so rosy at the moment. For a team that needs to upgrade its rotation, losing Kuroda would clearly be a setback. I remain hopeful that the team will re-sign him to a one year deal since he appears willing to accept a short-term contract and all signs indicated he enjoyed his time in New York. I really do not expect the Yankees to re-sign either Swisher or Soriano. It’s unfortunate as I’ve appreciated the positive impact that Swisher’s personality had on the Yankees’ “corporate” clubhouse culture. As Soriano, the excessively fat contract for a set up guy paid dividends when Mariano Rivera was lost for the season and he superbly stepped in to give the Yankees a top closer as a brief trial with David Robertson.
If the Yankees could sign Joaquim Soria to a set up role, I do think it would help neutralize the loss of Soriano. There is also the possibility that reliever David Aardsma could move into the role, along with Robertson, if he successfully makes it back from his injury.
Replacing Swisher’s bat will be the tougher challenge. No offense against Torii Hunter, but signing him to be the new right fielder does not make me excited. I do like the talk of moving Brett Gardner to center and Curtis Granderson to left. Hopefully, the Yankees can bring Ichiro Suzuki back for another year. I am not sure what the best answer is for right. The best options are only available through trade.
I read this morning that the Boston Red Sox had signed Atlanta Braves’ backup catcher David Ross, whom the Yankees liked. I am surprised Atlanta let him get away given the health of starter Brian McCann, but it’s disappointing to see the Red Sox snatch away a player that could have helped the Yankees.
With a team that is trying so hard to reduce payroll by 2014 and one that devotes so much salary space to decreasingly productive guys like Alex Rodriguez and Mark Teixeira, I just don’t see Brian Cashman being successful playing “Moneyball”. When you consider how many dollars the Yanks have committed to A-Rod and his drain on the roster, it would appear to me that the team has less dollars to play with than any of their big city rivals if the end game is to avoid luxury tax and penalties in 2014.
Don’t get me wrong, I have been so appreciative of players like Jeter, Rivera and Andy Pettitte. But the fact remains that they will be another year older in 2013 and at some point, they will begin to break down. There doesn’t seem to be any high level prospects ready to step into their shoes. I wish there was a way the team could move A-Rod and his albatross contract but that’s unlikely to happen.
I remain hopeful that Brian Cashman is able to make a move this winter to improve the team. If the team stays status quo or struggles to replace those they will lose, I do not see the Yankees finishing any higher than third in the AL East next season. But, of course, if Hal Steinbrenner lets Cash make the moves necessary to position the team for 2013, then they’ll be in the thick of the pack at the top of the division.
Tino, Tino, Tino!…
I am happy to see Tino Martinez become hitting coach for the Miami Marlins. It is bittersweet to see him leave the Yankees organization, but much easier to see him go to his home state as opposed to being the hitting coach for the Boston Red Sox. The latter was a real possibility as the Sox had gotten permission to talk to Martinez, but fortunately, he opted to go help Mike Redmond turn around the Marlins. The Los Angeles Dodgers have been my favorite NL team in recent years due to manager Don Mattingly. I enjoy seeing my favorites do well, even if they can’t do it in the Yankees organization. Another example would be San Francisco Giants’ pitching coach Dave Righetti, fresh off his second World Series championship in three years. Tino is certainly in the same class with those guys, and will always be someone that I will root for. That’s why watching him go to Boston would have been so difficult.
Speaking of hitting coaches, I am hopeful that manager “wannabe” Jason Giambi decides to take the hitting coach position with the Colorado Rockies. Maybe he is not ready to hang up his bat just yet, but I think he would be a very positive addition to Walt Weiss’s staff and it would put him on the path of eventually reaching his goal to be a manager. While I was surprised to see the Rockies go with Weiss as manager over Matt Williams, I recognize that Weiss knows the Rockies organization and they know him. If he surrounds himself with the right coaching staff, I think Weiss can be highly successful in Colorado.
The Dodgers quest to overtake the Giants…
Regressing back to the Dodgers but staying on the theme of hitting coaches, I was mildly surprised by Mark McGwire’s decision to move from the Cardinals to the Dodgers. I know that McGwire is a Southern CA guy, but still, the Cardinals were his organization. Maybe that’s why it is best to move to another organization so that your legacy as a player is the primary association. Granted, McGwire does not have the untarnished reputation like Mattingly had in New York, but hopefully it works out for Big Mac. Performance-enhancing drugs or not, the guy knows how to hit.
It’s funny, particularly given my long history of being a Yankees fan, but I am a little put off by the free spending ways of the new Dodgers ownership group. While I believe that you have to spend to put a quality team on the field, spending frivolously seems excessive. For the Yankees, I only need to use A-Rod as the example. Over $30 million in one season devoted to a player whose skills are rapidly eroding. $30 million would go a long way toward bringing in multiple quality…and productive…players. The Dodgers should no qualms about picking up the contracts of Josh Beckett and Carl Crawford when it remains to be seen if they can rise to the current level of their contracts. It looks like high stakes poker to me with much potential for disaster.
In a couple of weeks, the Hot Stove League should start heating up and it will be interesting to see what form this off-season takes. I am cautiously optimistic, but understand that it’s very possible the Yanks go into next season hoping some young guys from the farm system are ready to take it to the next level. I guess I now know what it’s like to be a fan of the Minnesota Twins or Kansas City Royals…