|Photo Credit: Getty Images (Al Bello and Christian Petersen), via CBS New York|
Trading January for February…
It was another quiet week in the Yankees Universe, but fortunately, it puts us one week closer to Spring Training.
Many feel that the Yankees are good with the present makeup of the 40-man roster as the gates of Steinbrenner Field prepare to open but I remain convinced that the Yankees will add either a strong starting pitcher or a veteran to solidify third base. It would be great to add both but I don’t see how that’s economically feasible for a team trying so hard to stay under the $197 million luxury tax threshold.
I thought the Washington Nationals have done a tremendous job with their infield bench. First, they signed first baseman Matt Adams, the long-time Cardinal who spent most of last year in Atlanta, to back up first baseman Ryan Zimmerman. Then, they re-signed 2B/3B Howie Kendrick who can plug into a corner outfield position as well. Either one of these players would have been useful for the Yankees. I like the idea of pairing a veteran with the youthful Miguel Andujar at third. Granted, I would love to see the return of Todd Frazier or even the signing of Mike Moustakas, but the Yankees can afford to lower their sights for another guy that could help Andujar with his transition to the MLB level. Eduardo Nunez is probably not the answer, due to his questionable defense and injury history, but there are other guys that could fit the bill without blowing the budget. Josh Harrison, carrying a cap hit of $10.25 million, is probably the guy that comes to mind but his acquisition would probably prevent the addition of a starting pitcher who is better than any of the current starting five.
|Photo Credit: Getty Images North America (Joe Sargent)|
The Toronto Blue Jays have been fairly active in trying to rebuild their post-Jose Bautista outfield. Earlier this week, they signed former Yankees outfielder Curtis Granderson to fill a platoon role. Then, yesterday, they traded for St Louis Cardinals outfielder Randall Grichuk who became expendable when the Cardinals acquired former Marlins outfielder Marcell Ozuna, particularly given the breakthrough of outfielder Tommy Pham for the Cards last year. Grichuk has some thump in his bat, even if he hasn’t been consistent. He is expected to be the starter in right field, replacing Bautista. I don’t know much about the younger pitching prospect that the Blue Jays sent to St Louis (Connor Greene), but I am glad to see reliever Dominic Leone depart the AL East. In a setup role for the Blue Jays last year, Leone stranded 42 of 54 base runners which ranked fourth among AL relievers. He held righties to .211 batting average and was even stingier with lefties at .183. The Grandy Man may not be the player he once was, but he is still one of the game’s best gentlemen. I’m sure that he’ll be a positive influence on the young Jays. He didn’t do much for the Los Angeles Dodgers last year after the late season acquisition (.161 batting average with 7 home runs in 112 at-bats), but he can still provide occasional pop. I can still remember his grand slam against the Yankees last August in what would prove to be his last at-bat for the New York Mets.
|Photo Credit: USA TODAY Sports (Brad Penner)|
It’s inevitable that the Boston Red Sox and free agent outfielder J.D. Martinez come together at some point this off-season. I find it highly unlikely that the Arizona Diamondbacks bring back Martinez due to monetary constraints and there doesn’t seem to be much competition with Boston for the outfielder’s services. The latest reports indicate the Red Sox have offered 5 years at $125 million but agent Scott Boras is on record seeking a 6 or 7 year deal for his client. Teams have wised up and understand how detrimental the latter years can be for extended length contracts given to thirty-something players. If the Red Sox are truly offering $25 million per year, I think Martinez would be smart to consider it. At a winter function for the Red Sox yesterday, former Red Sox great Pedro Martinez explained, “The main reason why Mookie (Betts) and those guys miss (David Ortiz) more is because they were getting better pitches to hit on an earlier count because of his presence. Everybody knew they wanted to attack Mookie and those guys to get them out early before they get to David because David was one of those guys who was really special.” Martinez could be that guy for the Red Sox, which is why I feel that Boston will eventually get the deal done even if it gives them a $200+ million payroll.
|Photo Credit: Getty Images (Christian Petersen)|
The most talked about situation for the Yankees is Jacoby Ellsbury and his contract. By all indications, Ellsbury has no desire to waive his no-trade clause and is focused on competing with Aaron Hicks for the starting center field role. Many Yankees fans, including myself, feel that it would be best for Ellsbury to drop the NTC and allow a trade. The pro-Ellsbury fans attack us, saying that Ellsbury is a better player than we are giving him credit for. I don’t think anyone disputes that Ellsbury is still a good player. He just doesn’t fit the 2018 Yankees. At this point, it is clear that Aaron Hicks has the upper hand and it would take an injury to Hicks (always a possibility) to clear a path to consistent playing time for Ellsbury. But even then, he’d have to fight Brett Gardner for time and Gardy probably has the edge. It does not make sense to pay a fourth or fifth outfielder $22 million per year. If the Yankees were successful in getting another team to take on half of what’s left of Ellsbury’s deal, that’s still significant money that could go toward a starting pitcher and/or veteran third baseman. That’s why I think it is best to move Ellsbury if you can. He can be a very useful player for another team. Seattle was mentioned as the primary trade target until they acquired second baseman Dee Gordon from the Miami Marlins with the intent to convert him to center field. Then, the San Francisco Giants were heavily mentioned by Yankees fans. But they acquired Andrew McCutchen from the Pittsburgh PIrates and are bumping up against the luxury tax threshold themselves. Some have mentioned the Colorado Rockies in a trade of bad contracts for IF/OF Ian Desmond, but I don’t think the Rockies are as down on Desmond as Yankees fans would like to think. A trade to a Cactus League team seems to make the most sense given that Ellsbury makes his home in Scottsdale, Arizona. Personally, I think the Yankees will be stuck with Ellsbury until the dollars left on his contract reach a point that Hal Steinbrenner is comfortable cutting bait. That means at least another season or two. It stinks because it will most likely keep Clint Frazier at Triple A if he is not traded for a starting pitcher. I am a fan of Red Thunder and I’d like to see him in the Bronx, not Moosic, PA. He’s ready, even if it means that team leader Brett Gardner is the odd man out.
|Photo Credit: SI.com|
Maybe next week is finally the week we get some actual news in the Yankees Universe. Yeah, right…probably not. Oh well, Spring Training will soon be here. I am ready and anxious to see 1 Steinbrenner Drive thriving with Yankees fans in the stands watching Yankees greats on the field.
Rain, Rain, Go Away, Come Again Another Day (but not Thursday)…
Unfortunately, the Yankees will have to stay in Baltimore an extra day. Today’s game against the Orioles has been postponed due to anticipated rain throughout the evening. The game has been re-scheduled for Thursday at 1:35 pm Eastern. The day had been a scheduled day off for both teams, so now the Yankees will have to fly to Dallas/Fort Worth following tomorrow’s game.
This has been a tough week for sleep for the Bronx Bombers. A Sunday evening game in New York, late night/early morning travel to Baltimore, a day game on Monday, a win on Tuesday but a crushing rain-delayed defeat last night and now this. Tomorrow’s weather forecast for Baltimore is currently sunny and 72 degrees for game time. Hopefully the weather holds so that the game can start on time and get our guys to the airport as soon as possible. A getaway win would make the plane trip so much smoother and faster.
Odds & Ends…
Congratulations to the Rookie-Level GCL Yankees East for winning the first 2017 MiLB championship! The GCL Yankees East beat the GCL Nationals, 5-4, to win the best of three Gulf Coast League Championship series. The hitting star was 5’2″ third baseman Jose Carrera (the Mini-Ronald Torreyes?) who hit a game-tying home run in the 7th inning after only hitting one during the regular season. The winning run was scored by SS Jose Devers, Rafael’s cousin, on a run-scoring single by RF Jhon Moronta in the top of the 9th. The winning pitcher was Luis Rijo with 5 1/3 innings of scoreless relief. He didn’t allow any hits or walks and struck out seven.
|Luis Rijo / Credit: Bryan Green via Pinstriped Prospects|
The Yankees have placed RHP Adam Warren (lower back spasm) on the 10-day DL retroactive to September 3rd. On the bright side, the new and improved Adam Warren (a/k/a Chad Green) is just fine.
Brett Gardner has been named as the Yankees nominee for the 2017 Roberto Clemente Award. Nominees were chosen for each MLB team and the winner will be named during the World Series. The nominees were chosen as the players from each team who “exemplify the game of baseball, sportsmanship, community involvement and the individual’s contribution to his team”. It is the second consecutive year that Gardner has been selected as the Yankees nominee.
Last year’s Roberto Clemente Award winner was former Yankee and then New York Met Curtis Granderson, now of the Los Angeles Dodgers.
|Credit: Charles Rex Arbogast-Associated Press|
There will never be another Roberto Clemente, certainly one of the greatest baseball players of my lifetime…
Let’s try this again tomorrow. Have a good night!
Red Sox 9, Yankees 6…
I am sick of games with lost opportunities. When the Yankees scored 4 runs in the top of the 7th but subsequently had the bases loaded with only one out, I had such a sickening feeling when both Aaron Judge and Gary Sanchez failed to bring home any more runs. Unfortunately, that feeling was correct as the Red Sox raged back against the Yankees bullpen to take the win.
That’s right, Joe Girardi, Aroldis Chapman is your closer. Keep rolling him out there and watch your playoff aspirations fade. Maybe something is not wrong physically with Chapman but there’s something wrong between the ears. I know that he didn’t give up the lead, Tommy Kahnle did, but the runs the Red Sox scored off him put the dagger in the heart. I personally think Chapman needs time away to get himself right. The team is better off with David Robertson and Dellin Betances closing out games.
What makes this loss worse is today’s game features probable Cy Young winner Chris Sale. It doesn’t get any easier, especially with CC Sabathia and his balky knee on the mound. The Yankees are facing a series loss and falling 6 games behind Boston unless they can somehow find a way to pull out a win today.
While the Yankees seemed to be leaving runners stranded every inning (total of 14 men left on base), the Red Sox scored first in the second inning in the rain off starter Jordan Montgomery. Xander Bogaerts hit a two-out double to left and Rafael Devers homered to opposite field, over the Green Monster, to give the Sox the early 2-0 lead.
Christian Vazquez led off the bottom of the 5th with a solo shot, a high fly out of the park in left.
Working against the Red Sox bullpen, the Yankees finally broke the ice in the 6th. Chase Headley lined a one-out single to right. Todd Frazier hit his 20th home run of the year, a shot to left center and it was a one-run game. The Yankees subsequently proceeded to load the bases with two outs, but Aaron Judge grounded out to snuff a potentially huge inning.
|Credit: Adam Glanzman-Getty Images|
Gary Sanchez led off the next inning with his 23rd homer, a fly to left center near the light tower and the game was tied. The Yankees proceeded to load the bases on two walks and a single (not in that order) to load the bases for Ronald Torreyes. Torreyes, unlike Judge, didn’t fail. He hit a line-drive single to left off the scoreboard to score both Didi Gregorius and Chase Headley. The Yankees had taken the lead, 5-3. After Austin Romine struck out, Brett Gardner walked to load the bases. Red Sox reliever Robby Scott then hit Aaron Hicks with a pitch to bring Todd Frazier home from third. 6-3 Yankees and the bases were still juiced. Aaron Judge had the first crack, but he went down swinging. Last chance fell to Gary Sanchez who had led off the inning with a homer, but this time he lined out to first. The Yankees had the lead but I didn’t feel good. I felt the score should have been 8 or 9 to 3 at that point.
|Credit: Adam Glanzman-Getty Images|
The Red Sox rallied against the Yankees bullpen. Chad Green had pitched an effective 6th inning after relieving Jordan Montgomery, but the bottom of the 7th didn’t go so well. Green got the first batter, Rafael Devers, to pop out to Didi Gregorius. Christian Vazquez then hit a line drive to left that Gregorius just missed. Jackie Bradley Jr was up next, but Green couldn’t throw strikes and the Sox had runners at first and second. Exit Green, enter Tommy Kahnle. Exit lead. Eduardo Nunez reached base on an infield hit to load the bases. A sacrifice fly to center by Mookie Betts scored Vazquez. Andrew Benintendi singled to right, scoring JBJ. Hanley Ramirez walked to re-load the bases. Mitch Moreland singled to score two more runs and the Red Sox had a lead they would not relinquish, 7-6.
|Credit: Michael Dwyer-Associated Press|
After the Yankees were unable to do anything offensively in the top of the 8th, Girardi brought Aroldis Chapman in to pitch the bottom of the inning. Sorry Chapman, you suck. 20 year-old Rafael Devers, finding his new bitch in Chapman, singled to right. Christian Vazquez was up next and he reached base when Chapman couldn’t find the strike zone. With JBJ at the plate, the Sox executed a double-steal with Devers and Vazquez taking third and second, respectively. JBJ hit a single up the middle and the Sox had two more runs on the board. 9-6, Sox. A throwing error by Hicks on the single allowed JBJ to reach second, but Chapman finally settled down and retired the next 3 batters. Too little, too late.
|Credit: New York Daily News (back page)|
Red Sox closer Craig Kimbrel struck out the side in the 9th to give the Sox the agonizing win. This was a very disappointing loss (as if you couldn’t tell from the tone of my words).
The Yankees (65-56) fell five games behind the Red Sox with the loss. The Yankees retained the lead in the Wild Card Standings, 3 1/2 games up, but the second place team, the Los Angeles Angels were caught by the Minnesota Twins for a tie with the second WC spot. The Angels suffered a devastating loss when Manny Machado hit a walk-off grand slam to give the Baltimore Orioles a 9-7 win over the Angels. The O’s have sole possession of third place in the AL East, 5 1/2 games behind the Yankees, thanks to losses by both the Tampa Bay Rays and Toronto Blue Jays. The O’s are just 2 games out of the 2nd WC. The Twins, probably wishing they had kept Jaime Garcia, beat the Arizona D-Backs, 10-3.
Odds & Ends…
Congratulations to Derek Jeter and his wife Hannah on the birth of their daughter, Bella Raine Jeter. Little BRJ was born on Thursday and she anxiously awaits her father’s takeover of the Miami Marlins. I am sure that she’s already looking forward to life on South Beach.
The Boston Red Sox have opted to pitch Rick Porcello on Sunday against the Yankees’ Sonny Gray. Porcello, last year’s AL Cy Young Winner, is 7-14 with 4.59 ERA. Porcello is 0-3 against the Yankees this year in 19 innings with 3.79 ERA.
Mets OF Curtis Granderson, fresh off his grand slam against the Yankees in the final game of this week’s Subway Series, has found himself on MLB’s best team. From the outhouse to the penthouse. The Grandy Man was traded to the Los Angeles Dodgers for the familiar player to be named later or cash considerations. Interestingly enough, the Dodgers are currently in the city where Grandy got his start as they are playing a weekend series in Detroit. Credit the Dodgers for continuing to find ways to improve the team despite 86 wins on August 19th.
|Credit: Brad Penner-USA TODAY Sports|
Have a great Saturday! Seems like a good day to beat the Red Sox! Let’s Go Yankees!
Yankees 7, Mets 5…
Bryan Mitchell tried to give the game away, loading the bases with no outs in the bottom of the 9th and then allowing a grand salami by former Yank Curtis Granderson, but Dellin Betances came in (“it’s not really what you want to do” –Joe Girardi) to restore order and give the Yankees the series sweep over the New York Mets.
This should have been an easy win with the dominance of Luis Severino and the power of Gary Sanchez but it was a nail-bitter at the end. If the Mets had gotten a runner on base against Betances, they would have brought the potential game-tying run to the plate. But Dellin is no Aroldis Chapman (of late) and he shut the door.
This game should have been all about the Kraken. Gary Sanchez is rapidly becoming Mr August although I’d be okay with Mr August through October. He owned August last year and he owns it again this season. Brett Gardner led off with a bouncer back to Mets pitcher Steven Matz and reached second when Matz’s throw sailed over first baseman Dominic Smith’s head. Aaron Hicks walked. After Aaron Judge struck out (record extended), El Gary came to the plate and sent a Matz pitch into the left center stands as a souvenir. The Yankees led 3-0 to give Luis Severino some backing before he had even thrown a pitch.
|Credit: Frank Franklin II-Associated Press|
The Yankees got to Matz again in the fourth inning. Tyler Austin singled to right, his second hit of the game. Ronald Torreyes followed with a single to left, a roller through the hole at short. The best hit of the night, sorry Gary, came when Luis Severino popped a bunt that fell in for a single to load the bases. The Yankees bench went nuts over Sevy’s first Major League hit. Brett Gardner, showing the professional hitter that he is, lined a double into the left field corner. Both Austin and Torreyes scored. Sevy stopped at third, huffing and puffing (not seriously). After Aaron Hicks grounded out, Aaron Judge was hit by a pitch and the bases were loaded again. The Mets pulled Steven Matz and replaced him with reliever Chasen Bradford. Gary Sanchez greeted Bradford with a single to left (through the hole between third and short), which scored Severino and Gardner. Mets catcher Travis d’Arnaud was unable to hold Yoenis Cespedes’ throw, otherwise, he might have had a play on Gardner at the plate. The Yankees had scored 4 runs and now led 7-0.
|Credit: Brad Penner-USA TODAY Sports|
Luis Severino was dominant after his collapse against Boston last weekend. He pitched into the seventh inning. He got the first out…a ground out by Amed Rosario, but from there, the inning deteriorated. A fly ball to right by Travis d’Arnaud was dropped by Aaron Judge and d’Arnaud was able to reach second on the two-base error. With Matt Reynolds batting, a wild pitch by Severino allowed d’Arnaud to move to third. It was another case where Gary Sanchez didn’t have his glove low enough to stop the pitch. Matt Reynolds looped a single to center to score d’Arnaud and the Mets had their first run of the game. Brandon Nimmo also singled to center, and Sevy’s day was done. He could only watch from the dugout as both runners were his responsibility. The Yankees brought in lefty Chasen Shreve, causing Tweeter to blow up with the “Chasen History” references due to the appearance of two Chasens (Shreve and the Mets’ Bradford) in the game. Shreve struck out Curtis Granderson for the second out, but walked Asdrubal Cabrera to load the bases. In perhaps what would prove to be one of the game’s biggest moments, Shreve struck out Michael Conforto to end the threat.
Shreve easily set down the Mets in the 8th, but Bryan Mitchell was brought in for the 9th to close it out. Sadly, he was ill equipped for the job on this night. Travis d’Arnaud led off with a double to the wall in left. Matt Reynolds singled to right while d’Arnaud was held at third. Following a coaching visit by pitching coach Larry Rothschild (it didn’t work), Mitchell walked Brandon Nimmo to load the bases with no outs. Curtis Granderson came up and jumped all over the first pitch from Mitchell for a grand slam to right. Manager Joe Girardi was visibly unhappy (along with Yankees fans), and finally pulled Mitchell. Enter Dellin Betances. 1-2-3, game over. Yankees win!
The Boston Red Sox had the day off so the Yankees (65-55) picked up a 1/2 game and now trail the Sox by 4 games as they head to Boston for the weekend. The Tampa Bay Rays continue to slide, falling to the Toronto Blue Jays, 5-3. The loss, combined with the Blue Jays win, created a three-way tie for the AL East Cellar (the Baltimore Orioles were idle). All three teams trail the Yankees by 6 1/2 games.
Excellent pitching performance by Luis Severino (10-5). After giving up 10 runs (8 earned) in his last start, Sevy bounced back to allow only four hits and one run (none earned) over 6 1/3 innings. If not for Judge’s error, he probably could have gone deeper into the game. He walked three batters, but struck out nine in lowering his season ERA to 3.18.
|Credit: Mike Stobe-Getty Images|
Also, you can’t say enough about the huge bullpen performances by Chasen Shreve and Dellin Betances, who picked up his eighth save. Both pitchers had the outcome of the game in their hands and they triumphed.
As for Mitchell, I know that he is capable of providing long relief but I’d probably send him down to Triple A and recall hot reliever Ben Heller with Caleb Smith, also capable of going long, in the pen.
Gary Sanchez…The Kraken…El Gary…The Sanchino. Two hits, including the homer and five RBI’s. Jump on his back and hold on…the man is on fire.
|Credit: Mike Stobe-Getty Images|
The streak continues. Aaron Judge extended his own Major League record for strikeouts (by a non-pitcher) to 34 games. I’d like to see a nice clean 4-for-4 day to put this one in the history books. For this game, Judge went hitless in four at-bats and was punched out three times.
The Yankees had a sense of humor with their Daenerys Targaryen (Game of Thrones) reference after the game:
We could probably use Dany’s dragons as the Yankees head north to Massachusetts.
Next Up: Boston Red Sox at Fenway Park, Boston, MA…
The Red Sox come into the latest series well rested as they had the day off on Thursday following their walk-off win over the St Louis Cardinals on Wednesday night. The Yankees meanwhile had to toil in Queens last night before hopping a plane for the short flight to Beantown.
Here are the scheduled pitching match-ups:
Yankees: Jordan Montgomery (7-6, 3.94 ERA)
Red Sox: Drew Pomeranz (12-4, 3.39 ERA)
Yankees: CC Sabathia (9-5, 4.05 ERA)
Red Sox: Chris Sale (14-4, 2.51 ERA)
Yankees: Sonny Gray (7-7, 3.37 ERA)
Red Sox: Doug Fister (2-6, 5.56 ERA) / TBA
It’s unfortunate we won’t have Luis Severino for this series, but at least we have Sonny Gray. Gray will be making his first start in the Yankees-Red Sox wars. He’ll really find out that he no longer resides in Oakland (if watching last weekend’s series wasn’t enough). I am not sure if Boston has fully decided its starter for Sunday. Fister is a strong possibility but not a certainty.
Odds & Ends…
The Yankees have recalled 1B/OF Tyler Austin from Triple A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre. He takes the place of 1B Garrett Cooper. Cooper has been placed on the 10-day DL with left hamstring tendonitis.
Greg Bird was in the Scranton/Wilkes-Barre lineup last night at DH. He was 2-for-4 with a RBI and a run scored in the RailRiders’ 5-4 win over the Gwinnett Braves (a team that will soon be called something like the Buttons or the Sweet Teas).
Have a great Friday! May the Baseball Gods favor the Yankees this weekend. Go Yankees!
Welcome to the Bronx!…
With one swing of the bat, Carlos Beltran has arrived as a Yankee. On Friday night, with the Yankees down by one run and two outs in the bottom of the 9th inning, Beltran crushed his most important hit to date into the left center stands with two on to give the Yankees a 5-3 win over the Baltimore Orioles.
Mark Bonifacio/New York Daily News
For many new Yankees, Masahiro Tanaka excluded, it takes a while to get acclimated to pinstripes. I remember that it took Jason Giambi a season or so to really feel comfortable. Brian McCann started his Bronx career a little on the slow side, and in many Fantasy Baseball rankings, his replacement in Atlanta and former backup, Evan Gattis was rated higher among catchers. He delivered a key hit this past week to win a game and perhaps that was his “moment”. He is starting to hit so there’s no reason not to believe that he’ll be an offensive force for the remainder of the season. But Beltran came with high expectations even at his age. Not to say that McCann didn’t, but perhaps the bar is a little higher for Beltran given his history in the City with the Mets.
Steve Mitchell/USA Today Sports
Ironically, Beltran may never have gotten his “moment” if not for a clutch RBI single by McCann in the prior at-bat. The game had many heroes. A diving stop by Jacoby Ellsbury that could have easily bounced past him to allow more Oriole runners to score in the late innings, David Huff limiting the O’s to one run in the top of the 9th after an error by Yangervis Solarte, and the very strong performance by Hiroki Kuroda. Conversely, Solarte could have been the goat with the error, in combination with his inning ending at-bat with two on in the bottom of the 8th. Nevertheless, at the end of the day, the Gatorade was dunked on Beltran and all was good in the Bronx.
If second basemen were as plentiful as catchers…
I like Francisco Cervelli as backup catcher given his versatility. But it was still sad to see John Ryan Murphy sent down to AAA. I know, he’ll get the chance to start every day, but I thought he did a great job backing up McCann. I know that when the Yankees make a deadline move in July, it will almost certainly include one of the young catchers (Murphy or top prospect Gary Sanchez). If the Yankees somehow swing a deal for David Price (unlikely in my opinion), Sanchez would have to be one of the pieces headed to Tampa. But in other deals, it’s more likely that Murphy will go unless the Yankees move Cervelli. Austin Romine seems to have become an afterthought.
Have bat, will travel…
I am glad to see that prospect Peter O’Brien is thriving. Another catcher, he has been performing well at first base and is perhaps an option to replace Mark Teixeira at some future point if he doesn’t get moved in July. Conversely, it is sad to see that talented prospect but oft-injured Slade Heathcott is dealing with, surprise, injuries…
Mark LoMoglio/Yankees, via MLB.com
Sabathia, Nova and Pineda who?…
Hats off to the young Yankee pitchers. Entering the season, the bullpen was perceived as a weakness but young arms Dellin Betances and Adam Warren have become go-to guys, and represent superior upgrades to guys like Joba Chamberlain and other former relievers. But the biggest surprise is how well the replacement pitchers, Chase Whitley and David Phelps in particular, have performed. Vidal Nuno has done a decent job but he is the top candidate to go to the pen or to AAA when CC Sabathia returns after the All-Star break. It’s almost a given that the Yankees will pursue another starting pitcher in July but the reason the Yankees are buyers and not sellers is directly attributable to the support that Whitley and Phelps have provided for ace Masahiro Tanaka and Hiroki Kuroda.
The bearded brigade…
I am glad to see that Phil Hughes has found a home in Minneapolis but I am among those who believe his strong performance would not have happened in the Bronx. I wish that he could have worked out for him, but he did need the change of scenery. It wasn’t that long ago that Hughes, Ian Kennedy and Joba Chamberlain were cited as the next great Yankee pitching hopefuls, and now they play in Minnesota, San Diego and Detroit, respectively. The only one that the Yankees received a return for was Kennedy and in retrospect it was not for market value. Kennedy went to the Arizona Diamondbacks and Phil Coke and Austin Jackson to the Detroit Tigers when the Yankees acquired Curtis Granderson. Given that Granderson left as a free agent, the Yankees essentially have nothing left to show for the losses of the three former top prospects.
What’s with the former Yankees who feel the need to grow a beard when they leave New York?…
I know the Yankees have history and tradition with their no facial hair policy, but I feel that it is something that the new Steinbrenner regime should consider relaxing. Some guys just need a beard. Sorry McCann…
No reminder needed, thank you…
I have to admit that I had almost forgotten about Alex Rodriguez (it was nice) until I heard his name yesterday after it was announced that he had dropped his lawsuit against the team’s doctor. I don’t know what A-Rod has left in his bat but honestly I do not care. I am not looking forward to his return next year and remain hopeful that the Yankees will find a way to sever ties. But I know that’s wishful thinking on my part. For now, I just have to enjoy that the team is doing fine without A-Rod and know that he is not missed.
A swing and a miss, another miss, yet another miss…
This morning, I saw a post on the MLB Trade Rumors website (http://www.MLBTradeRumors.com) that asked the poll question of which MLB team had the best draft in 2002? Of all the examples shown, no Yankees were anywhere to be found. For a draft that started with Bryan Bullington and B.J. Upton, there was some great talent uncovered in the 2002 draft. Jon Lester, Zack Greinke, Matt Cain, Prince Fielder, Cole Hamels, Joey Votto and a guy who would eventually find his way to the Bronx, Brian McCann, were among the great choices by their respective teams. But sadly, not a single Yankee selection stuck that year.
Number 26 selection Phil Coke is a major leaguer but with the Detroit Tigers. He had his moments in the Bronx but was never anything special and was sent to the Tigers as part of the Curtis Granderson-Austin Jackson trade.
But removing Coke, there are 50 rounds of names that Yankee Stadium never heard from. I really do not recognize any of the names outside of the first round selection and that’s only because he was later the starting quarterback of the Cleveland Browns (Brandon Weeden).
I know that there are many sad tales among the 2002 draft picks, like 2nd round pick Alan Bomer, a pitcher, who reinjured his shoulder after a previous injury several years earlier, bringing an end to his major league hopes.
But it’s also a testament to the drafting ability of major league teams and 2002 was clearly not a good vintage for the Yankees. I know the team’s re-focus on the minor league system didn’t occur until a few years later but hopefully barren draft years like 2002 are a thing of the past. But looking ahead a few years, it’s not too pretty.
2003 really wasn’t much better with top pick third baseman Eric Duncan long gone from baseball. The only name that stands out to me from that draft is Washington Nationals reliever Tyler Clippard.
2004 was the year the Yankees selected pitcher Phil Hughes and can only wonder what could have been. Time will tell if he can fulfill his promise in the Twin Cities or if he was simply one of the most overhyped young players of our time.
For the Yankees, solid draft picks do not appear until 2005 which Brett Gardner and Austin Jackson were chosen. Interestingly enough, the Yankees also chose pitcher Doug Fister that year but he opted to return to college for his final year, and was taken by the Seattle Mariners the next year. Granted, Fister is currently on the Nationals’ DL, but he’d certainly look good in the Yankees rotation about now.
In 2006, the Yankees made some good choices, but it’s rather humorous that the first round pick went to Joba Chamberlain, a journeyman reliever for the Detroit Tigers, while current Yankees closer, David Robertson was selected in the 17th round. Ian Kennedy and Zach McAllister were both chosen after Chamberlain, and they are solid starting pitchers for the San Diego Padres and Cleveland Indians, respectively. Dellin Betances was also taken that year and after years of hype, he’s finally contributing as a force in the Yankees bullpen. Mark Melancon, currently the closer for the Pittsburgh Pirates due to Jason Grilli’s injury, was also a draft selection.
Of the decisions the Yankees made regarding trades, the one I didn’t like was dumping McAllister. He went to Cleveland in 2010 for Austin Kearns who only stayed in the Bronx for the remainder of the season. That trade felt like the foolish ones that we had grown accustomed to in the 1970’s and 80’s. McAllister is having a very solid year for the Indians and is another guy who would have looked great in the Yankees rotation.
I will never find fault with the decision to trade Ian Kennedy even though he almost won the Cy Young after leaving the Yankees. I just never found him to be a good fit in New York.
2007 was another disappointing draft year as the Yankees really only have catcher Austin Romine, currently at AAA Scranton/Wilkes Barre, to show for it. Top pick Andrew Brackman was coming off a major injury at the time of the selection and was never able to find his way back.
As I advance to 2008, it’s disappointing to see how poor, outside of 2006, the draft has been for the Yankees. Atop the list in ’08 is a pitcher the Yankees were unable to sign and who is now entrenched in the starting rotation for the Pittsburgh Pirates, Gerrit Cole. Talk about another guy who would have been a brilliant option for the Yankees rotation. What could have been…
This really shows how incredibly difficult it is to determine those who will be able to achieve results and success at the Major League level. It also shows how many people fail to find their way for whatever reasons.
It’s a small wonder that the Yankees have had to spend so much in the free agent market to ensure the team remains competitive. In a statement of the obvious, the Yankees would be smart to improve the quality of their scouting and development to ensure that the older players are replaced by younger, cheaper talent with high ceilings.
The Tampa Bay Rays and Kansas City Royals are solid teams because of their drafting ability. For the Yankees, they are successful despite it. I get why owner Hal Steinbrenner believes in the power of the farm system. This is not rocket science. Sustainability will only be maintained through youth and controlling costs.
Stupid is as stupid does…
The fans of the Boston Red Sox took great delight when Michael Pineda was tossed from a Yankees-Red Sox game last week due to the blatant smear of pine tar on his neck. After the fiasco caused during his previous start against the Red Sox in Yankee Stadium (“brown dirt”), he had to have known he would be under the magnifying glass. Yet, he risked detection by continuing the use of pine tar and ended up applying a more generous amount than he had intended to. So, Boston manager John Farrell had absolutely no choice but to call out Pineda. This is one instance where I felt the Red Sox were 100% correct in a controversial decision involving the Yankees. Pineda’s 10-game suspension hurts the Yankees, at a time when they’ve already lost starter Ivan Nova for the season due to an elbow injury that requires Tommy John surgery.
For a rotation that looked so strong and full of promise for a few starts, the Yankees now have to replace both Nova and Pineda, plus the top of the rotation has been questionable at times with CC Sabathia and Hiroki Kuroda. The only source of consistency has been Masahiro Tanaka, who faces an incredibly difficult challenge today against the Los Angeles Angels and the likes of Albert Pujols and Mike Trout.
Baseball is a team-first sport and Pineda made a “me-first” decision. I hope that he learns a valuable lesson during his suspension and comes back with choices that are for the good of the team.
For the record, I do believe that Major League Baseball should allow pine tar to some degree for gripping purposes only in colder temps. But until the rules are changed, it’s a violation and should be handled accordingly. Baseball has been tolerant of discreet behavior regarding its use, but to blatantly violate the policy warrants the appropriate punishment until such a time the rules are changed.
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!