Tagged: Daniel Burch

Football, Turkey, Family, and the Yankees…

Much Love to the Yankees Universe…

Happy Thanksgiving, Everyone! 

We are thankful for the Yankees and a step further, we are thankful and grateful you are part of the Yankees Universe. These are exciting times for Baseball’s greatest franchise and we are hopeful next season will bring the 28th World Series Championship to the Bronx. To you and yours, enjoy the day and give your loved ones an extra hug from all of us.

Credit: @Yankees on Twitter

Unless you are a football fan, there’s probably not going to be much happening today sports-wise. I’ve seen the tweets on Twitter that it would be very much a Brian Cashman move of Brian Cashman to announce a major trade today. I doubt we’ll see any breaking news today but who knows. There’s nothing in the rule book saying trades and signings cannot happen today.

With Wednesday’s acquisition of another utility-type (speedy infielder/outfielder Tim Locastro) from the Los Angeles Dodgers, the 40-man roster is full. The Yankees are just getting started with the off-season enhancement of its championship-quality roster so we know there are a few tenuous spots on the roster. Given the Yankees’ need for another high-end starter, a couple of bullpen replacement pieces for free agents David Robertson and Zach Britton, and possibly a strong option for the infield to help with the temporary absence of Didi Gregorius, there appears to be at least five roster spots that will need to be vacated.

Reviewing the roster, I see the following players at risk.

Luis Cessa – I think most of us have seen enough of Cessa and are ready to move on. There are teams that value him as a reliever so I think he’ll be moved. I know I have no trust in Cessa after hitters have seen him once or twice in a game. I just don’t see a long-term future in pinstripes for Cessa. He is simply a pedestrian starter in my eyes, and there are better options for the bullpen.

A.J. Cole – Thank you, next.

Sonny Gray – We know this is one spot that will be vacated. It is only a matter of time until Gray joins the ranks of ex-Yankees. For most of us, the sooner, the better. I’ve seen a few people on Yankees Twitter predicting a rebound season for Gray in pinstripes next year. Please, been there, done that. Like Cessa, we’ve seen enough to know Gray is not going to magically become a frontline ace for the Yankees. It is time to move on.

Domingo German – German represents insurance for the rotation, but I think Jonathan Loaisiga is a better option and the Yankees have to give Chance Adams a “chance” (sorry, had to do it). I feel Adams is better served in the bullpen but for now, he remains a starter and should be given every opportunity to succeed. My favorite pitching prospect is Albert Abreu but I don’t think he’ll be Major League ready by next season. He is on the 40-man roster so there’s always the opportunity for a late season call-up. Domingo Acevedo is also on the 40-man so I see it as a numbers game for German, and place him at the greatest risk of losing his spot among these names.

Ronald Torreyes – I know everybody loves Toe, but the Yankees seem to be bringing in other utility types (Hanser Alberto and the aforementioned Locastro). I am sure Yankees VP, Assistant General Manager Michael Fishman and his analytics team have very strong opinions about the players that will best serve the Yankees in the utility role. Thairo Estrada will be healthy and the bullet in his hip has finally been removed. Estrada, Alberto and Locastro will battle Tyler Wade and Ronald Torreyes, and I simply see Torreyes as the loser, making him a strong candidate to be non-tendered.

Jacoby Ellsbury – I place this name here only for my continued hope that Brian Cashman finally pulls a rabbit out of his hat to move Ellsbury. When healthy, I know, he’s a decent player. But I am done with DL’s-bury and ready to move on. If healthy, I think the Yankees should cut bait. There’s only two years left on his deal.  It’s an expensive decision to let go, but I see Ellsbury as addition by subtraction. If he is not ready to go by Spring Training, the best financial decision is to place him on the disabled list for continued insurance payments, but seriously, I just want to move on.

There are other players on the roster that could be moved in trades, but the above players are the ones that I see most at risk.

I was watching a replay yesterday of the Seattle Mariners game at Yankee Stadium on June 21, 2018 when James Paxton took the mound in his now “home” stadium against Luis Severino. The Yankees had two two-run homers in the first inning by Aaron Judge and Miguel Andujar, narrowly missing a third home run when Seattle’s Mitch Haniger  leaped to rob Giancarlo Stanton of a long fly ball to the center field fence. Paxton settled down and chalked up nine strikeouts before he departed in the Yankees’ 4-3 victory. Here’s hoping his next Yankee Stadium start gets off to a better start. It was thrilling to watch the Yankees’ best two starting pitchers going at each other. I never really noticed it before but Paxton has very intense eyes when he is pitching. I also didn’t realize that he was such an Andy Pettitte fan growing up. The guy is clearly a competitor with an intensity that kind of reminds me of the heart of Lance Lynn (except Paxton has the arm to match the intensity). I don’t think we’ll have to worry about any ‘Sonny Gray-like’ meltdowns from Paxton.  Sure, he’ll have his clunkers like any other pitcher, but he seems to be a warrior to me. Paul O’Neill will be proud.

The deeper we get into the off-season, the more I want to see David Robertson return. I am so hopeful the Yankees and D-Rob can come to an agreement to allow Houdini to continue his “path in Pinstripes”. I get fired up every time I see D-Rob run off the mound at the conclusion of an inning. For the other reliever spot, I really want to see the Yankees sign Adam Ottavino but I wouldn’t be disappointed with the return of either Zach Britton or Andrew Miller. I just think Ottavino represents the safest choice. Well, actually Britton would the safest, but I think his desire for closer’s money will price him out of the Yankees’ reach.

I’ve seen some Yankee fans say the team should sign Boston’s Joe Kelly, currently a free agent. No, Hell NO! I don’t want to see that guy anywhere near Yankee Stadium in a home uniform. I prefer to see Yankees either teeing off on his pitches or slugging his face in with their fists. Sorry, I am not a proponent of violence but I do not want to see that guy on my team. He could be the greatest reliever in the history of baseball and I’d still want no part of him. I know, Mariano Rivera is the greatest reliever in history but my point is I don’t care what Kelly is capable of, I don’t like the guy.

Lastly, I hope this is the year Mike Mussina gets into the Hall of Fame but I suspect he’ll fall short. He deserves his spot in Cooperstown so I hope he eventually gets there. As they say, time will tell. Meanwhile, Mariano Rivera should be a shoo-in.  There will be voters who leave Mo off their ballot for whatever reasons (which makes no sense to me), but I think he’ll come in with at least 95% of the vote. I can’t wait for the Hall of Fame inductions next year with a smiling Rivera present at the festivities. One of my all-time favorite Yankees.

Photo by Jim McIsaac, Getty Images

Enjoy Thanksgiving, but, remember, Christmas is right around the corner…

As always, Go Yankees!

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Sonny Gray is a Yankee…

Photo by Noah K Murray, USA TODAY Sports

Bummer, he’s still here…

Big Maple is a New York Yankee but sadly, at least as of right now, so is Sonny Gray. The deadline last night to finalize the 40-man rosters for next month’s Rule 5 Draft failed to provide any momentum for the inevitable relocation of Sonny “Not Made for NYC” Gray. So, we’ll have to wait a few more days or weeks until we can wish Sonny better luck in his new city.

I was a little surprised the Yankees added reliever Joe Harvey to the 40-man roster on Tuesday. Despite his solid statistics in the Yankees farm system, he is admittedly not a prospect I know very well. In fact, I think the first word I said when I saw that he had been added was, “Who?”.

I thought the Yankees would protect the defensively talented  shortstop Kyle Holder but ‘strong glove, no bat’ will only get you so far. The Yankees also made a minor trade involving minor leaguers when they sent RHP Jordan Foley, 24, to the Colorado Rockies for RHP Jefry Valdez. At first glance, Valdez appears underwhelming (he had a 5.82 ERA in 27 relief appearances in Class I last year), but a deeper look shows he is a strikeout machine. He had 45 strikeouts last season in 34 innings. However, as one Rockies blog put it, he has never been a top prospect in the Rockies organization for one reason: he hasn’t pitched very well. The Rockies feel they got the better end of the deal, but truthfully, who really knows. Maybe the change of scenery and new collection of coaches and instructors will help Valdez. As for Foley, he’ll get an opportunity to help fill the void when Rockies reliever Adam Ottovino signs with the Yankees (my wish, I know).

With the addition of Harvey, the Yankees’ 40-man roster stands at 39. The open spot won’t sit vacant for long as the Yankees continue their roster enhancements in the coming weeks. Hey Bryce, Number 34 is available in case you were wondering…

Credit to Manny Machado for his interview comments that appeared this morning on MLB.com. Manny has taken a beating since the World Series over his comments that “I am not going to be the type of player that’s going to be ‘Johnny Hustle’”. In the column posted by Mark Feinsand, Machado is quoted saying, “For me, I was trying to talk about how I’m not the guy who is eye watch. There’s a difference between fake hustle for show and being someone who tries hard to win. I’ve always been the guy who does whatever he can to win for his team”. I think Machado has done a very good job clarifying his earlier controversial remarks. I know many Yankee fans are against signing Machado, but I think any MLB team would be better with Manny on its roster. Feinsand’s column leads me to believe that Manny will say the right things when he gets an audience with GM Brian Cashman and Managing General Partner Hal Steinbrenner. C’mon, Hal, open the checkbook!

Of the moves made yesterday, I think the decision by the Miami Marlins to designate the versatile Derek Dietrich for assignment opens an opportunity for the Yankees. Dietrich can play second, third, and corner outfield. He is not necessarily known for his glove, but he is someone to consider if the Yankees choose not to bring back Neil Walker.

I was a little surprised by the Tampa Bay Rays decision to DFA slugging first baseman C.J. Cron, but I’d prefer to stick with the current first base duo of Luke Voit and Greg Bird even if Cron had 30 bombs last year. Now, if the Yankees want to acquire Joey Votto, as suggested by Daniel Burch yesterday, let’s go.

The San Diego Padres sold third baseman Christian Villaneuva to Hideki Matsui’s old team, the Yomiuri Giants. The only reason the name stood out to me was his blazing start last April which led to San Diego’s release of former Yankee third baseman Chase Headley. Villaneuva came back to earth and played like a guy who doesn’t really have a long-term future in the Bigs, hence, the “deportation” to Japan. Still, it’s sad the guy who forced Headley’s exit simply turned out to be another Mr. April. I was hoping for better results with Chase’s reunion with his original team, but it was not meant to be.

I really despise when former Yankees and Yankees prospects end up in Boston. It happened again yesterday when the Boston Red Sox acquired minor league reliever Colten Brewer from the San Diego Padres. Brewer spent the 2017 season in the Yankees system before departing via free agency last November. It’s not like Brewer did anything for the Yankees, but it just bothers me when “our” guys go to the Red Sox. Yeah, Nasty Nate, I am talking to you even if it wasn’t your decision.

Lastly, Tuesday also brought news of the retirement of great third baseman Adrian Beltre of the Texas Rangers. Man, I am glad his stay in Boston was so short. A Ranger for the last eight years, the guy is headed for the Hall of Fame one day. I couldn’t help but think it’s a shame he can’t leave his defensive skills behind for Miguel Andujar’s use. I wish Adrian the best as he moves into the next chapter of his life. If he is half as successful as he was on a baseball field, his future is incredibly bright. We’ll be seeing him in Cooperstown in, oh, about five years.

Have a safe and enjoyable Thanksgiving holiday, everyone! This is a beautiful time for love, family and friendship. May you be blessed with a memorable and pleasing abundance of all three.

As always, Go Yankees!

Looking Forward to St Patrick’s Day…

Photo Credit: AP (Rick Scuteri)

Patrick Corbin should be at the forefront for the Yankees…

So many possibilities, where do the Yankees go? November is always a tough month for the Hot Stove League. Lots of talk but not really much action. There’s always the chance for a major trade but we generally have to get much closer to the Baseball Winter Meetings in December for the flurry of activity, then the quietness returns until the start of training camp. I don’t expect this year to be any different.

No doubt GM Brian Cashman is laying the groundwork for potential trades. He’s talked with the Cleveland Indians, he’s reached out to the Seattle Mariners, and has surely had talks with teams we’ve heard nothing about. The talks now will hopefully yield fruit later, but rest assured, if the Yankees are successful in obtaining Corey Kluber, Carlos Carrasco or James Paxton, it WILL hurt. For a team on the cusp of a championship, now is not the time to “prospect-hug”. The team must be prepared to pay the price, whatever it may be, to bring in a top of the rotation arm.

Of the names mentioned, I probably like Kluber the best. He would immediately became the team’s ace, which we clearly need, and his presence would help take pressure off Luis Severino. Less pressure on Sevy would only enhance the chances for him to become the best he can be. But if the Yanks can’t get Kluber, Carrasco would be a welcome addition. I really like James Paxton and I think his name has been mentioned frequently in the past by TGP’s Daniel Burch. My only concern, like many others, is health. Paxton has not proven to be a durable pitcher. But if the team has the opportunity to add Paxton and the price is reasonable, they should do it.

Photo Credit: USATSI

Regardless of how the trade market plays out, I hope the Yankees do not lose sight of free agent starter Patrick Corbin. He will be costly but I am very fascinated with how his left arm and pitching arsenal would play in Yankee Stadium. He grew up as a Yankees fan and wore #46 in Arizona out of respect for Andy Pettitte. He is a ground ball pitcher with five legitimate pitches although his deadly combinations are the slider, four-seam fastball, and sinker. He’s been praised for his work ethic and the signs show he will be an elite pitcher in his 30’s. Corbin might slot into the third or fourth spot in the rotation depending upon what the Yankees do on the trade market, but he’d ensure the starting rotation is a strength in 2019 compared to its achilles heel in 2018.

Despite the rumors of so many names, Corbin remains my number one target this off-season.  I hope the Yankees see it the same way. Paired with an ace acquired via trade, or added along with the return of a guy like J.A. Happ or Nathan Eovaldi, the starting rotation will be better next year with Corbin in it.

Photo Credit: USA Today Sports (Mark J Rebilas)

The Bryce Harper/Manny Machado talk has reached absurd levels. I am anxious for the guys to get their $300 million plus contracts to end the excessive chatter about the two young superstars. I think the Yankees would be foolish to pass on at least one of the rare “young” superstars but it’s not my money. I see the advantage of Bryce’s left-handed bat in the Yankees lineup and I see Manny’s role in bridging the gap at short and eventually providing a superior defender at third. My personal preference may be Machado as I’ve long admired the player but I would shed no tears with the signing of Harper. Still, the Yankees can win without either so if they go big with the starting rotation and bring in a guy like Marwin Gonzalez or Daniel Murphy to help the infield, it will not be the end of the world. I like the chances better with Harper or Machado, but the 2019 Yankees will contend for the World Series regardless of how this plays out. “Go big or go home” applies now more than ever.

I want the Yankees to end the reign of the Boston Red Sox next season so I am in favor of whatever moves the team has to make to improve. I’d hate to see Miguel Andujar, Estevan Florial, Justus Sheffield, or Albert Abreu leave, but if it improves the team, so be it. Championship windows do not remain open for extended periods of time. You have to take advantage of the opportunities when they present themselves. I am ready for the pain for the greater glory. In Cashman we trust…

Photo Credit: AP (Gregory Bull)

For those keeping score, the Yankees have made some moves this off-season. They’ve re-signed Brett Gardner and CC Sabathia to one-year deals. They re-signed minor league free agent third baseman and defensive-whiz Giovanny Urshela and they signed a minor league deal with former Pirates catcher Ryan Lavarnway. Lavarnway was once a heralded top prospect for the Red Sox, although, now in his 30’s, he has settled into a journeyman role.  He provides much needed catching depth at the upper levels of the farm system. Lavarnway is one of those guys I hope the Yankees don’t need to use but he’s there to help if it becomes necessary. Milwaukee’s Erik Kratz has proven it is never too late to make a significant contribution.  Welcome to the Yankees Family, Ryan!

Photo Credit: Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Matt Freed)

The end is within sight for Jacoby Ellsbury. He only has two more years on his contract before the Yankees can exercise their buyout. Ellsbury is owed $42,285,174 for the next two seasons, and the Yankees can then buyout his contract for an additional $5 million. Realistically, I don’t expect Ellsbury to wear the pinstripes again or at least I hope not, but I am glad we can finally see the light at the end of the tunnel. I’ve seen some suggest the Yankees should trade Ellsbury for another dead contract (like Miami’s Wei-Yin Chen, owed $58 million for the next three years, or Seattle’s Robinson Cano, owed $120 million over the next five years). No, thanks. I don’t think the Yankees should take on more money to rid themselves of Ellsbury. I like Cano and he might help but financially it makes absolutely no sense. He is clearly on the downhill slide and he’s entering the really ugly side of his ridiculous contract. If the Yankees can finally move Ellsbury even if they have to pay the bulk of his remaining contract, that’s the way to go. If I was a GM for another team and I was convinced that Ellsbury was finally healthy, I’d take a chance on him for no more than a $5 million per year commitment. That’s a lot of money for the Yankees to eat, but it would be worth the investment (addition by subtraction). I am done with Ellsbury and don’t want to see him pull on the pinstripes again.

Yesterday saw two notable names in the game announce their plans to retire. Hats off to Joe Mauer of the Minnesota Twins and Chase Utley of the Los Angeles Dodgers for long, distinguished careers. Both are names I’d like to see stay in the game in some capacity. I am not sure what their plans are for the future but I wish both the very best as they enter the next phase of their lives. Mauer’s departure certainly opens an opportunity at first base for former Yankee Tyler Austin unless they decide to go in a different direction for new manager Rocco Baldelli.

Is Sonny Gray still a Yankee? Count me among those who think Cashman will bring a better than expected return for the failed Yankee. I am certain he’ll get at least a strong prospect with upside. We’ll see. Hopefully Gray’s Yankee career is over by this time next month. It would  be great if he could take Luis Cessa and A.J. Cole with him.

As always, Go Yankees!

Facing Partial Season Without Emojis…

Photo Credit: Getty Images (Elsa)

Star Shortstop to undergo TJ surgery on his elbow…

My words yesterday morning didn’t age very well. I had said that shortstop was firmly set, yet here we sit today searching for Plan B at the position. I was as surprised as anyone to hear yesterday after my post that Didi Gregorius needed Tommy John surgery on his throwing arm after an apparent injury suffered during the recent ALDS against Boston. When Didi was acquired from the Arizona Diamondbacks, he apparently had a partial tear in the elbow that was asymptomatic. In a way, we’ve probably been living on borrowed time, much like we are with Masahiro Tanaka. While Gleyber Torres was able to bounce back fairly quickly from the same surgery, his surgery was on his non-throwing arm so the rehab for Didi will be longer than it was for Gleyber. Some have said that Didi could be out until after the All-Star Break. Plus, there are no guarantees with the surgery.

For those of us still trying to recover from the disappointment of losing the ALDS, these were not the words we wanted to hear. The immediate option is to slide Gleyber to short and play someone like Tyler Wade at second or re-sign Neil Walker to do it. Daniel Burch, the fearless leader of The Greedy Pinstripes, has cited second baseman D.J. LeMahieu as someone the Yankees could pursue. LeMahieu, who helped the Colorado Rockies reach the NLDS before their ouster by the Milwaukee Brewers, will be a free agent after the season. I think most Rockies fans would prefer for him to stay in the Mile High City. Some have mentioned him as a possible solution at third for the inevitable departure of the Rockies’ great third baseman Nolan Arenado, who will be a free agent after the 2019 season. I like LeMahieu but I am not sure he’s the best solution for the Yankees. Sometimes it takes a while for an idea to warm up for me, so if the Yankees do sign LeMahieu, maybe I’ll come around. Credit to Daniel for his “outside the box” thinking.

The obvious answer, for me, is to sign Manny Machado to play short until Didi can return, then slide him to third, pushing Miguel Andujar to left (or trade Andujar for much-needed pitching). I wanted Manny before the announcement of Didi’s surgery yesterday so this only reinforces the desire. Manny was 2-for-4 and had a homer and 3 RBI’s last night for the Los Angeles Dodgers in their 6-5 loss to the Milwaukee Brewers. Manny was the lone star on a night Dodgers catcher Yasmani Grandal tried to do his best Gary Sanchez impersonation with two passed balls and a couple of errors.

I am worried about the future of Didi Gregorius. He is scheduled to be a free agent at the end of the 2019 season. Facing a potentially lost season, it’s not outside the realm of possibility the Yankees decide to move on. I personally hope the surgery does not prevent the team from looking into a long-term deal for the Yankees shortstop. I wouldn’t wait until next November to discuss dollars with Didi’s agent. The time is now. I would prefer Didi is not facing the pressure of playing for a new contract when he returns next June or July.

It was funny when GM Brian Cashman mentioned Sonny Gray during yesterday’s press conference. I didn’t reference Gray at all in my post yesterday which shows how much I’ve moved on from the guy. I’ve been absolutely convinced that he cannot pitch under the pressure of New York, and Cashman reaffirmed it when he said that “probably to maximize his abilities would be more likely best somewhere else”. Cashman had to back-pedal a little but it was only because he needs to protect potential trade value for Gray. Gray is as good as gone, and I am glad. I think he’ll prosper someplace like Pittsburgh or Milwaukee or even back in Oakland. But he was never going to be “the man” in New York. It happens. Just ask Ed Whitson or Javier Vazquez. New York is not for everybody. I do not wish any ill will toward Gray. I hope he goes on to have a very fine career…in a different uniform.

It was also revealed CC Sabathia had surgery on his right knee, but realistically this is just an annual thing with Sabathia at this stage of his career. It should have no  bearing on whether or not the Yankees try to lock up CC on another one-year deal. Sabathia is expected to be ready next Spring, regardless of whether he is in Tampa, FL for training camp or elsewhere.

Former Yankees manager Joe Girardi interviewed with the Texas Rangers yesterday for their open managerial position. I could see Girardi in Dallas/Fort Worth. I’d probably prefer to see him resume his managerial career in the National League but if he was to go anywhere, the Rangers are fine. It’s better than seeing Girardi show up in the AL East with Baltimore or Toronto.

While I wish Girardi the best, I don’t look back and wish he was still the Yankees manager. In an interview yesterday, Yankees Managing General Partner Hal Steinbrenner said that the decision to move on from Girardi was years in the making. I trust Yankees Leadership for the reasons they felt a change was necessary. I remain supportive of Manager Aaron Boone, but I am slightly disappointed that the team intends to stand pat with the coaching staff. I think Josh Bard will be an improved Bench Coach in 2019 unless he snags a managerial gig before then, but probably the one position I’d look closely at is pitching coach. Larry Rothschild is revered as one of the best pitching coaches in the game, yet when a Yankees pitcher makes an adjustment that results in success, the player compliments are generally directed at other guys like Pedro Martinez or Andy Pettitte. I’ll use Hal Steinbrenner’s words from yesterday, “look, I am not a baseball guy”, but from afar I really haven’t been all that impressed with Rothschild. It’s very possible that I don’t know “shit from Shinola” on this topic but it’s just a casual observation from a fan. I can’t really recall a time when I heard a pitcher say that their success is attributable to Larry. Maybe it’s been said and I just haven’t heard it.  Whatever. When Mel Stottlemyre, Sr was the Yankees pitching coach, you clearly knew the impact he had on the pitching staff. I just don’t have that same confidence with Rothschild.

Adeiny Hechavarria is a pending free agent, but I hope the Yankees find a way to bring him (and his glove) back. I know that everyone loves Ronald Torreyes, but I’d prefer the defensive wizard in Hechavarria over Toe even if it means the team parts ways with Aaron Judge’s little buddy. With Didi shelved, the Yankees could certainly use the defense lost with his absence.

I guess the Yankees will be giving us blog writers plenty to write about this winter. Never a dull moment in the Bronx. As long as it culminates in a World Series championship next year, all is good.

As always, Go Yankees!

Setting Our Sights for the Wild Card…

Photo Credit: AP (Julie Jacobson)

Sadly, Boston shows no signs of slowing down…

Just when you think you might be able to trust Masahiro Tanaka, you can’t. Since his return from the disabled list in early July, Tanaka had given up no more than three runs in any start and had only allowed a grand total of six runs in five starts. Yet, on Friday night, he was hammered for six runs including three home runs in the Yankees’ 12-7 loss to the Texas Rangers. When you score seven runs against losing teams, you should win games, not lose them.

Meanwhile, the Boston Red Sox overcame an 8-3 deficit to crush the Baltimore Orioles, 19-12.  Boston, 82-35, is on pace to match the Yankees’ historic 1998 season when they won 114 games in the regular season. At their current winning percentage, the Red Sox project to 113 wins. This is not 1978 and the Red Sox are not going to collapse.

Photo Credit: AP (Patrick Semansky)

With Boston’s nine game lead in the AL East, the Yankees are headed for the one-and-out Wild Card playoff game. At the moment, their only competition for the Wild Card is the resurgent Oakland A’s and the Seattle Mariners. The A’s are only 4 1/2 games behind the Yankees, while the Mariners sit 6 games back.

Oakland has been very aggressive in rebuilding their bullpen in recent weeks. Their closer, former Washington National Blake Treinen, has had a breakout season. He currently has 29 saves to go with a 0.93 ERA in 48 games.  Behind Treinen, the A’s have added former New York Mets closer Jeurys Familia, former Yankees/Nationals reliever Shaun Kelley, and former Minnesota Twins closer Fernando Rodney. For the starting rotation, they’ve added former Detroit Tigers starter Mike Fiers, a target Yankee fans love to hate. None of the names shake fear but it shows the A’s are serious about their Wild Card run. There’s no question they have the talent to beat the Yankees in a one-game do-or-die playoff game.

I wish I could say that I am not worried like The Greedy Pinstripes’ Daniel Burch can, but I am worried. Sorry Daniel. We knew in the off-season the Yankees needed to add a quality starting pitcher and it didn’t happen. So, the team had to scramble in July to add Lance Lynn and J.A. Happ. Both guys have done fine jobs but neither is going to make a difference when the chips are on the line. When Aaron Judge was lost with the minor bone fracture, it was evident the Yankees needed to add a short-term bat for the outfield. But instead, the decision was made to roll with one of the few healthy outfielders in the system, journeyman Shane Robinson. The Yankees could have easily added a guy like former Yankee Curtis Granderson who would have filled a valuable void. His bat likes Yankee Stadium and has the track record to show it. He may not be the player he was during his Yankee days thanks to the terminal affliction known as aging but he is more than capable of giving the Yankees a supportive bat and a valuable bench player when Judge returns.

The Mariners strengthened their bullpen with the addition of Adam Warren, a guy the Yankees certainly could have used the last couple of games. Warren was the winning pitcher in the M’s 4-3 victory over the Houston Astros last night. The Mariners also benefit from the return of Robinson Cano in a few days. Cano may not be eligible for the post-season but he’ll certainly help the Mariners make the push for October. He’s a valuable late season addition for Seattle. We’ll see if there is rust to shake off but I suspect that Cano will be ready to go.

Photo Credit:  The Herald, Everett, WA (Kevin Clark)

Please do not get me wrong. I like the 2018 New York Yankees. No one expected a historic season from the Boston Red Sox. The Yankees, despite their struggles, have won more games in Major League Baseball than any team other than the Red Sox and the Houston Astros. It is very possible they’ll go into a potential Wild Card game with over 100 wins. My only concern is that GM Brian Cashman could have done a better job (if that is possible). Everyone is so quick to give him credit for his genius but standing back, he’s had his share of misses. I like manager Aaron Boone but there’s no question we’ve paid a price for his inexperience.

I am anxious for the returns of Gary Sanchez and Aaron Judge, but the Yankees need to take care of business now. August is filled with losing teams on the schedule. The Yankees have the potential to have a very successful month despite starting it with a four-game sweep by the Red Sox but they can’t let 52 win teams like the Rangers crush them. Rookie Ronald Guzman looks like the greatest player who ever lived when he feasts on Yankees pitching, having accumulated six home runs already this season. Half of his season total are against the Pinstripers. He was the first rookie to hit three home runs in a game last night against the Yankees. That’s covering many years and players and is the strongest rookie performance against the Yankees since the A’s Reggie Jackson slugged six homers against his future team in 1968. This cannot happen if the Yankees expect to be successful. Ronald Guzman is no Reggie Jackson and the rest of the American League knows it. Apparently, the Yankees pitching staff didn’t get the memo.  To digress slightly, why is A.J. Cole on the MLB roster and Justus Sheffield is not?  Time to add Top Sheff to the 40-man and open a spot on the active roster by punting Cole.

It sounds like we can add Neil Walker to the list of wounded. After last night’s game, Aaron Boone said that Walker tweaked his neck and was dealing with illness. I had wondered why he wasn’t in the lineup or why he wasn’t used to pinch hit but that explains it. As Joe Girardi would say, it’s not what you want. Fortunately, Walker is penciled into today’s lineup (outfield, no less) so hopefully his physical ailments were minor.

I could care less if Jacoby Ellsbury is going to miss the remainder of the season after undergoing surgery for a torn hip labrum. I had not counted on the player and did not want to see his return potentially cost another player a valuable roster spot. As much as I would love for the Yankees to cut bait, the truth is they won’t as long as they can collect insurance on his salary. I get it. I am just ready for the day when the Yankees can finally give him his walking papers.

I was very glad to hear that YES Network analyst Ken Singleton will return for another season after he had announced that 2018 would be his last. There is something so calming and reassuring about Singleton’s voice and his stories are so great to listen to. I’ve long been amazed that a former Yankees enemy (courtesy of his days in Baltimore) could excel calling Yankee games with no bitterness or regret.  He has exuded class and professionalism from the start and I’m glad he’ll be back in 2019 even if he will be carrying a much lighter load. In a season that has seen Michael Kay’s stock drop and Ryan Ruocco’s elevate, Singleton was been a voice of consistency.

I was sorry to see Phil Hughes designated for assignment yesterday by the San Diego Padres. I had hoped the former Yankee would fare better in his native sunny Southern California but it was not meant to be. I’ve always liked the guy and I am hopeful that he can find a good home to make a difference even if it is in relief. I don’t really see a fit with the Yankees, but there are plenty of teams in need of help. I am not ready to see the end of Hughes career so hopefully this is just the next chapter in his book.

I’ll be headed to see Manny Machado and the Los Angeles Dodgers take on the Colorado Rockies on Sunday at Coors Field in Denver. It should be a fun game. Former Yankee Rich Hill will get the start for the Dodgers. I was in LA last weekend and didn’t get the chance to see the Dodgers play the Houston Astros at Dodger Stadium so this is a good consolation prize. Manny remains a guy that I’d love to see the Yankees pursue in the off-season (dump Greg Bird and move Miguel Andujar to first to open third for Machado) and I’ll certainly be cheering for him on Sunday.

Well, time for my voice of pessimism to close. Time for a new Yankees winning streak to start. Can we get another quality start from Lance Lynn? We’ll find out in a few hours. In Rangers starter Drew Hutchison’s last game, he gave up six runs in three innings to the Baltimore Orioles. We can do better.

Go Yankees!

It Might Happ-en Today…

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Photo Credit: USA TODAY Sports (David Butler II)

Yankees at Home Seeking Reinforcements…

If you believe the rumors, the Toronto Blue Jays are closing to dealing free agent-to-be LHP J.A. Happ and the frontrunners are the New York Yankees and the pitching-starved Milwaukee Brewers. Until a deal is consummated, there is always the potential for a mystery team to strike and nab Happ at the eleventh hour.

I am not trying to prospect-hug, but the Yankees should not move any of their highest prospects or Clint Frazier for a two-month rental. It is said the Blue Jays like Brandon Drury. Great, I like Drury too and so does Baltimore Orioles GM Dan Duquette, but it doesn’t mean he should be included in a rental trade.

As it stands, I am not interested in Happ if the cost is too high so I appreciate Brian Cashman’s commitment to retaining his best prospects. I do think Happ would be an upgrade for the starting rotation. A better option than Luis Cessa (despite some good starts recently), Domingo German or Jonathan Loaisiga.  So if the Yankees do make the trade, I’ll be supportive. If not, so be it. Happ is not the great savior that Justin Verlander turned out to be last year for the Houston Astros.

Cole Hamels is available but the guy hasn’t pitched a quality start since mid-June. He also makes too much damn money for a team trying to stay under the luxury tax threshold, even if the Texas Rangers pitch in a few dollars. There is not really anything that appeals to me about Hamels other than once upon a team he was a part of a World Series championship but c’mon, he was 25 at the time. At 34, he is not exactly the same pitcher anymore and more times than not makes Sonny Gray’s stats look legendary.

TGP’s Daniel Burch recently mentioned Zack Wheeler (4-6, 4.33 ERA) as a good target. When I first heard it, I was very skeptical. But the more I think about it and if the New York Mets are not willing to move Jacob deGrom or Noah Syndergaard, Wheeler actually makes some sense. Who knows, maybe Daniel likes Wheeler because he is from Georgia but Zack’s numbers are as good as those for Happ or Hamels. Plus, the righty is on the right side of 30 (28) as opposed to the other two.  In his last start this week against the San Diego Padres, Wheeler held the Padres to two runs on four hits over seven innings, picking up the win.  Granted, I’d get confused with names like Zach and Zack on the roster, but Wheeler represents more than a rental and his contract this year was only for $1.9 million (the prorated portion would fit easily into the Yankees budget and still allow room for another major acquisition). Wheeler enters his final year of arbitration eligibility for next year and will be a free agent after the 2019 season. I think Daniel may have been on to something when he called out Wheeler as a possibility. I know that I’d prefer him over Happ or Hamels if the price is right.

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One potential name fell off the board yesterday morning when the Boston Red Sox acquired former Yankee Nathan Eovaldi from the Tampa Bay Rays. Boston has been plagued by injuries on the back half of their rotation so Nasty Nate fills a void for them.  In the post-season, Eovaldi can be flipped to the bullpen to provide Red Sox manager Alex Cora with another weapon. The cost was high (25 year old lefty Jalen Beeks). Beeks was winless in two starts for the Red Sox this year, but he has good 2018 minor league numbers (5-5, 2.89 ERA, 16 games started, 117 strikeouts in 87 1/3 innings). I think it was a solid move for the Rays but Eovaldi certainly makes the Red Sox pitching staff better. I do hate it when former Yankees end up in Boston. I still haven’t really forgiven David Cone or David Wells for putting on that uniform.

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As much as I like Brandon Drury, I would flip him to Baltimore for RHP Kevin Gausman, Greg Bird’s high school buddy. Gausman, 27, has been a Crown Prince of Underachievement since he was the fourth overall selection in the 2012 MLB Draft, but I like his potential.  If someone could unlock his talent, he has the potential to be a very good Major League starter. This year for the O’s, Gausman is 4-8 with 4.54 ERA in 20 starts. I heard a rumor (fake news) yesterday that the Colorado Rockies were going to send their top prospect (infielder Brendan Rogers) to the O’s for the Colorado native. Gausman doesn’t warrant that level of return. If Duquette can land Rogers, he’d be foolish not to send Gausman home to the Mile High City. Gausman is only making $5.6 million this year and won’t be a free agent until after the 2020 season. If Cash is able to package Drury with a couple of prospects, he should make the move to acquire Gausman before the Rockies can pounce on him.

Today should bring more trade speculation and maybe another deal or two. Yesterday saw two pitchers changing their uniforms. We already talked about Eovaldi moving to Beantown, but the Tampa Bay Rays also sent another pitcher (Matt Andriese) to the Arizona Diamondbacks. I like the move for the D-Backs. The right-handed Andriese, 28, has the ability to start or relieve.

Brian Cashman could have us all fooled and pulls an ace out of his sleeve before next Tuesday. But if not, he has good options without having to part with talent that represents our future to secure a middle-of-the-rotation arm. I am sure that sleep has been a very limited resource for Cash and his team this week while they work the phones and turn every stone. He has already brought us a great left-handed reliever for three Rule 5 eligible prospects who are easily replaceable in the Yankees farm system. No reason that Cashman’s run of good luck (or rather, judgment) should stop now. My only fear with Cashman right now is sleep deprivation.

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Every time I see a headline that says the Yankees are the frontrunners for this guy or that guy, it seems like the player’s team is just trolling to see if they can raise the price for others. When Cashman wants his guy, you generally do not hear about it until it happens. So, in the case of J.A. Happ, I’ll believe it when I see it. Until then, I think he’ll be pitching in Milwaukee or Philadelphia or some other location this time next month.

Yesterday was not so great for the Yankees as they dropped yet another series to the Tampa Bay Rays. The Yankees need to figure out how to drive home runners in scoring position and beat the poorer teams.  These narrow losses with high RISP are aggravating. The Yankees have lost their swagger and now look more like the team that stumbled out of the gate with a 9-9 mark. After their 3-2 loss yesterday, the Yankees are 5 ½ games behind the Red Sox in the AL East Standings. It could have been six if not for the rainout of Boston’s game. The Sox used dingers to build a 5-0 lead on the Orioles in the first two innings, only to see them wiped out for the postponement. When the game is made up, they’ll restart the scoreboard at 0-0.  Bummer, sucks for them.

The Yankees will have a new teammate when they take the field today. The Yankees will need to make a roster move on the active roster to make way for LHP Zach Britton. No word (at least not what I’ve seen) on Britton’s new number although I expect third base coach Phil Nevin to relinquish his #53. No move on the 40-man roster is needed since Britton slid into the spot vacated when David Hale was released. Sounds like Britton had a tough time leaving Baltimore and he had a long talk with Orioles manager Buck Showalter following the news of his trade which lasted into the wee hours of Thursday morning. There’s always the potential for Britton to return to Baltimore in the off-season through free agency, but I am hopeful that he adapts to his new surroundings and teammates very quickly. The Yankees Clubhouse seems to be a very fun and close knit group and I see no reason why Britton cannot be a part of it.

Britton’s post on Twitter yesterday portrayed his high character: “Well, 12 years went by pretty fast. I remember my first day in the Orioles organization, wide eyed and anxious to pursue my childhood dream. Through Bluefield, Aberdeen, Delmarva, Frederick, Bowie, Norfolk and ultimately Baltimore. I’ve met people that forever impacted me as a player and a person. I’m sad to leave those memories behind but beyond grateful that I had the opportunity to be an Oriole for this long. Birdland – thank you for your support throughout my entire career, through the ups and downs you were always there. I SALUTE YOU!”

Britton’s road now leads him to the Bronx and new memories. Let’s help him close the door on Baltimore and begin his new journey in Pinstripes. I am sure when he pulls on his Pinstriped jersey today, he will experience the pride that goes with the history and tradition of Baseball’s most storied franchise. Welcome, Zach! We are glad you are here.

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Photo Credit: Getty Images (Elsa)

The Yankees are back home today and begin a four-game set against the Kansas City Royals. Sonny Gray (7-7, 5.34 ERA) looks to build upon the positive vibes from his last start. For the Royals, they’ll start the only pitcher that I’ve ever heard of for this series (Jakob Junis, 5-10, 5.03 ERA). For the rest of the games, the Royals will throw out Brad Keller, Heath Fillmyer, and Burch Smith. In other words, who? The Yankees need to win these games. The Royals are a beatable team. I know the Yankees have struggled against teams with losing records this year but past performance does not have to equal future results (or so they say). Today is a new day, a day which needs a Yankees victory. Guys, please make it happen even if you don’t make it “Happ-en”.

Go Yankees!

Judge & Stanton Gladly Pay the Power Bill…

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Photo Credit: The Canadian Press via AP (Frank Gunn)

Yanks use the Big Bats to finish Road Trip on winning note…

It’s been a very eventful week in the Yankees Universe.  The Yankees completed a two-game sweep of the Blue Jays at Rogers Centre in Toronto, Ontario and finished the latest road trip with a 5-1 record. Tommy Kahnle now plays for the Scranton/Wilkes-Barre RailRiders, Jordan Montgomery undergoes the knife today for his Tommy John surgery, and a number of young, talented prospects potentially begin their journeys to Pinstripes.

Seriously, MLB should option the Baltimore Orioles (19-41) to the International League and call up the RailRiders to replace them in the AL East. The RailRiders are loaded with Major League talent.

It’s been a great road trip (outside of the loss in the second game of Monday’s double-header in Detroit) and last night’s game was incredible. Sonny Gray, wow!  THIS is clearly the guy we’ve been looking for and NEED for an extended October run.  Sonny may not have gotten the win but he was as critical to the win as he has ever been while representing the Yankees. If he had given up just one run last night, the Yankees lose. I am so glad that Masahiro Tanaka was not on the mound as he would have given up at least his obligatory home run to send the Yankees home with a loss. Sonny’s final line was better than any starting pitcher who picked up a win on Wednesday. Eight innings, 99 pitches, two hits, no runs, a couple of walks, and eight strikeouts. The closest winning pitcher was Baltimore’s Dylan Bundy who blanked the New York Mets on three hits over seven innings, but c’mon, he was pitching to the Mets. Nice job, Sonny. Now if you can repeat this performance in Yankee Stadium, life will be good.

I am grateful for Aaron Judge and Giancarlo Stanton for their game-winning home runs in the 13th inning, but I’d be remiss if I didn’t say that the Sucks! Award goes to Gary Sanchez. He looked pitiful at the plate.  I was so mad when he swung at a pitch well below the strike zone to end the 11th inning with Giancarlo Stanton stranded at third. All we needed was a measly single and Gary chases a stupid pitch.  For the game, El Gary was 1-for-6 with two strikeouts. The ground rule double he hit in the top of the 4th inning allowed him to barely keep his batting average above .200. Aaron Boone keeps saying that Sanchez is close. I hope so because I sure didn’t see that guy last night.

As for Judge, his two-run homer in the 13th inning off Blue Jays reliever Joe Biagini made me about as happy as the kid prominently featured in the TV telecast, dancing in the upper deck of Rogers Centre while holding a handwritten “All Rise” sign.

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There was no doubt Judge’s shot was gone, but Stanton’s homer surprised me. He walloped the ball like only Aaron Judge can do and it looked like a line drive to left that might drop in for a single except the ball never dropped. It was a laser shot into the left field stands. It goes to show you that when Stanton does get hot, American League pitchers will be running for cover.

Unfortunately, despite the win, the Yankees were unable to make up any ground on the Boston Red Sox. The Sox, winners of four-in-a-row, cruised past the Detroit Tigers, 7-1. Boston (43-19) maintained their one game advantage on the Yankees (40-18). It’s amazing the Red Sox and Yankees are the only teams in Major League Baseball with at least 40 wins. As many have said, the Yankees are on a path to 111 wins but if Boston continues its current winning percentage, the Yankees would have to settle for a one-game Wild Card play-off. Meanwhile, the Cleveland Indians hold a relatively comfortable 4.5 game lead in the AL Central and project out to 86 wins and would enter as a division champ.  That’s sick.

The Yankees have the day off today in preparation for their weekend series with the crosstown Mets. It will be good to see old friend Todd Frazier but I am glad Yankees pitchers have to throw to the Toddfather and not some guy like Miguel Andujar in this series. Friday night’s game will be tough with Masahiro Tanaka scheduled to face Jacob deGrom. Hopefully the Yanks can hold it close to get into the Mets bullpen. I fully expect deGrom to bring his “A” game as there is nothing better than to beat NYC’s best team in New York.  Hopefully Masa was watching Sonny Gray and taking notes.

I haven’t had a chance to gather my thoughts about the Yankees picks in this year’s MLB Draft. I am anxious to read the Meet A Prospect segments by TGP’s Daniel Burch. The Yankees took six catchers including two for their first picks in the first and second rounds (Anthony Seigler and Josh Breaux). Within their first 16 picks, the Yankees took two 6’8” right-handed pitchers (Daniel Bies, 8th Round, and Derek Craft, 16th Round). The 11th round pick, Tanner Myatt, also RHP, is no slouch at 6’7”. The shortest guy in the draft was LHP Dan Metzdorf (5’9”) who was taken in the 38th round.  Go short people!

I was kind of hoping the Yankees would have selected 3B Triston Casas of American Heritage School in Florida. He had shown up as an option for the Yankees on a few mock draft boards. The Red Sox ended up taking him with the 26th pick in the first round. I probably would have liked to have seen him go anywhere except Boston. I was also disappointed when the Atlanta Braves chose Stanford’s Tristan Beck, RHP, in the fourth round. Beck had been a late, back-end of the draft selection for the Yankees last year but did not sign. For as much as I’ve been down on former Yankees pitcher Roger Clemens, I was also disappointed when the Detroit Tigers got Roger’s son, Kody, a second baseman, in the third round.

Lastly, I have to pay my respects to the late St Louis Cardinals great Red Schoendienst who passed away yesterday at age 95. While I am a Yankees fan, I grew up with St Louis as the nearest Major League city and it is where I experienced my first Major League game. While I liked baseball up to that point, I think my first game developed the love I have for the game.

Wednesday, May 29, 1974…

The Los Angeles Dodgers, with future Yankee Tommy John on the mound, were facing the St Louis Cardinals at the old Busch Stadium in St Louis. Bob Gibson was on the hill for the Cards, but more importantly (at least for this post), the manager of the Cardinals was Red Schoendienst. I should have recognized the greatness of the manager in the other dugout (the legendary Walter Alston of the Dodgers) but it was Schoendienst that captured my attention on that day. I can’t even tell you why he was so memorable to me that day. Maybe it was his name. Maybe it was the aura of the Cardinals, a very proud franchise that is second only to the Yankees in history, tradition and World Series wins.

The Dodgers won that game, 5-2, and John was the winning pitcher but I went away from the game with a great appreciation and respect for the Schoendienst-led Cardinals. It probably helped that I got to meet and shake hands with Cardinals Hall of Famer Stan “The Man” Musial but I clearly associated the Cardinals with their manager.

Schoendienst, a second baseman, played in the Majors for 19 years.  While he spent most of his time with the Cardinals, he also played for the New York Giants and Milwaukee Braves. Red was elected to the Baseball Hall of Fame in 1989. During the course his career in baseball as a player, coach or manager, he wore a Cardinals uniform for 67 out of 74 consecutive years in the game. To this day, I still can’t think of the Cardinals without thinking of Red.

Farewell to a great St Louis Cardinal and to one of the game’s greatest guys.

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Photo Credit: St Louis Post-Dispatch (Robert Cohen)

The Red Sox have played four more games than the Yankees, thanks to the rainouts, and the Sox play again today. Here’s hoping for a Red Sox loss (finally) against the Tigers. I’d love to end this day with the Yankees only trailing the Sox by a half-game. The Tigers have a decent pitcher on the mound (Matthew Boyd, 3-4, 3.23 ERA) while the Red Sox counter with Jar-Jar Binks, excuse me, I mean Jalen Beeks.

So, Go Tigers, and as always, Go Yankees!

P.S.  A special wish for a safe and successful surgery for Jordan Montgomery, and the all best for his post-surgery recovery and rehabilitation!