Continuing to hear (frozen) crickets at Yankee Stadium…
We’ve made it into the New Year, but it’s still as quiet as a mouse in the Yankees Universe.
I cannot say that I have any bold predictions for the coming year. While I firmly agree that Michael Fulmer would be a substantial upgrade in the starting rotation, I feel that he is cost-prohibitive. Allegedly, the Yankees made an offer in December that included Clint Frazier, Tyler Wade, Thairo Estrada and a couple of minor league pitchers. One of the pitchers was assumed to be Chance Adams. The Tigers did not feel that package was sufficient for Fulmer. Many speculate that it would take the inclusion of Gleyber Torres to motivate the Tigers to make a deal. Sorry, that’s not happening. With no offense to Fulmer, the Yankees should not hand over the farm system to the Tigers to bring the young ace to the Bronx.
During the Winter Meetings, Tigers GM Al Avila made the following analogy: “Let’s say you have an asset. Your house. And somebody likes it. You don’t have it for sale. But if somebody says, ‘Man, I really like your house’ and they keep pursuing you about your house, at some point, you might end up selling it.” With no motivation to sell, the Tigers can afford to demand overpayment for their “house”. They would expect a return that gives them significant pieces that would make them “a much better organization going forward”. In my opinion, the cost is too great and until the Tigers are motivated to make a deal, it is in the best interests of the Yankees to pass.
Like many, I feel that the infield represents a greater need than starting pitching. I like the suggestion of Ian Happ of the Chicago Cubs. But to make a move, the Cubs would want help for their starting rotation which means that any deal would start with Jordan Montgomery and other top pitching prospects in the Yankees organization. Happ can play multiple positions and has power, but he’s exactly the versatile kind of guy that Cubs manager Joe Maddon loves. Like the Tigers, the Cubs would have to be blown away to make a deal. If the Yankees could find a reasonable package that makes sense for both teams, I’d be in favor of a deal. However, I suspect the Cubs want more, much more.
My not-so-bold prediction is that we will not see either Fulmer nor Happ in pinstripes anytime soon.
Giancarlo Stanton is going to find out that playing for the New York Yankees will bring media scrutiny like he’s never seen before. Yesterday’s headlines were blazing that Stanton spent New Year’s Eve surrounded by 30 women at famed Miami nightclub, LIV at Fontainebleau. The media immediately singled out Brazilian model Mariana Santana as an object of Stanton’s attention although a Stanton rep quickly dismissed it, saying “The story isn’t accurate. He said he’s not dating her and they were not at LIV together.” The days of living under the radar as a Miami Marlin are over.
|Credit: Seth Browarnik, startraksphoto.com|
ESPN is apparently targeting Alex Rodriguez to replace Aaron Boone as a member of its Sunday Night Baseball team. It would be a great move by ESPN if they can pull it off, but Fox Sports would be foolish to let A-Rod get away. If A-Rod keeps this up, he’ll soon be the highest paid guy in his second career, just like he was during his first career.
When Triple A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre manager Al Pedrique left to join the coaching staff for the Oakland A’s, I wondered who would take over as the leader for the young Baby Bombers. The question has been answered as Double A Trenton Thunder manager Bobby Mitchell, the 2017 Eastern League Manager of the Year, has been elevated to the top minor league managerial position for the Yankees. High A Tampa Yankees (now the Tarpons) manager Jay Bell will take over for Mitchell with the Thunder. We wish both men the very best in their new roles as they help usher the next generation of Baby Bombers into the Bronx.
Did David Cone really turn 55 this week? How did that happen?…
Mike Mussina seems to be moving up slightly in the Hall of Fame voting. The latest results, with 37.5% of known ballots (according to Hall of Fame tracker Ryan Thibodaux), show that Moose has crept up to 73.0% (leaving him two percentage points shy of the minimum required for induction. I really hope the momentum continues to push Mussina upward to carry him past the minimum threshold. Chipper Jones, Jim Thome, and Vlad Guerrero appear to be locks with greater than 90% of the known votes. Edgar Martinez and Trevor Hoffman are also in good position. As it stands, this should be a record-breaking number of inductees. With no disrespect to the others, Moose is the only one that matters to me. The others certainly deserve their place in Cooperstown but the 2018 Class will not feel complete, to me, unless it features the guy from Montoursville, PA.
|Credit: Sabo, NY Daily News|
Maybe we’ll actually hear some Yankees news today. Maybe not. We’ll see what the day brings. Go Yankees!
Mr Cashman will see you now…
The Hot Stove League has been open for a few days but for the most part, it’s been all quiet on the Eastern Front (a/k/a The Bronx).
The managerial interviews have begun with Yankees bench coach Rob Thomson taking the first at-bat. He must have fouled off a bunch of pitches because he apparently met with GM Brian Cashman for six hours this week. I should be fully supportive of Thomson for manager. He’s a company man who has been with the Yankees organization for 28 years. He brings promises of communication and trust in the players and has tried to give assurances that he would not be “more of the same”. Yet, for some reason, I cannot fully embrace his candidacy. I’d like to see him stay in the organization and I am certainly not opposed to his inclusion on the coaching staff for the eventual new manager. But he’s not really my ideal choice for manager.
|Credit: Associated Press|
A new name surfaced yesterday in former Yankee Aaron Boone. It’s unknown when/if he will interview with Cashman. Given that I’ve been supportive of other broadcasters getting the job, like Jerry Hairston, Jr and Mark DeRosa, you’d think I would support the possibility of an ex-Yankee. Yet, I was ‘ho-hum’ when I saw his name. I am appreciative of his home run to win the 2003 American League Championship Series, but he’s not really someone that I can envision in the job. Perhaps he is someone I would grow with in time if he is the one. We’ll see.
David Cone and John Flaherty are also names that received heavy ink in New York publications this week. Between the two, Coney would be the better option to me with no offense to Flaherty.
The Miami Marlins have confirmed that manager Don Mattingly will return for the 2018 season so that effectively removes his name from consideration. As a huge Mattingly fan, even today, I did not really want to see Mattingly back in the Yankees organization as its manager. Managers are so heavily second-guessed and I didn’t want to see Mattingly tarnish his great Yankees legacy in any way.
I think the best tweet I saw about the managerial search yesterday came from MLB.com’s Mark Feinsand: “Something to keep in mind re: Yankees managerial search. This is a chance for Cashman to interview several people to get a feel for them in a different role. Many will interview, only one will get the job. Don’t get caught up in any one name.” So, as the saying goes, trust the process. I have the trust in Brian Cashman that he’ll make the right decision. His legacy is heavily invested in the next hire with the Yankees on the cusp of something great. Gene Michael was widely recognized as the chief architect of the 90’s dynasty but this potential run belongs solely to Cashman and his chief lieutenants (backed by the Steinbrenner family, of course). All things considered, Cashman can’t afford to make the wrong choice.
It’s a bird, it’s a plane, no, it’s Ohtani!…
I have been trying to avoid getting excited about the possibility of adding Japanese superstar Shohei Ohtani but the ‘Ohtani to America’ (or should we just call it the ‘Ohtani to Pinstripes’) movement took another step in the right direction. Dylan Hernandez of the Los Angeles Times reported that Japanese news reports are stating the Nippon-Ham Fighters have announced they will post Ohtani this off-season. All I want for Christmas is Ohtani in the Bronx! I am still trying to be cautiously optimistic but it would be very exciting to have him join the strong cast of Baby Bombers.
The Yankees can offer Ohtani the second highest signing bonus at $3.25 million. They trail only the Texas Rangers who can offer $285,000 more than the Yankees. The Rangers can also offer no state income tax. But I am hopeful the promotional opportunities will be greater for Ohtani in New York. He stands to make a great deal of his income through endorsement deals. Also, when you look long-term, the Yankees can offer more lucrative dollars and stability for future contracts. Faced with the impending free agency of Japanese ace Yu Darvish last summer, the Rangers chose to deal Darvish to the Dodgers rather than make a strong effort to re-sign him. Granted, Darvish didn’t exactly have a stellar finish to his season but it reinforced to me that if you want long-term security, New York is a better place to be than Texas. Plus, the Yankees have the legacy of Japanese greats Hideki Matsui and Masahiro Tanaka.
|Shohei Ohtani (top right) / Credit: Koji Watanbe, Getty Images|
Farewell to a Pitcher and a Catcher…
It was tough to see the loss of former Blue Jays and Phillies great Roy Halladay this week to the tragic plane crash in the Gulf of Mexico near Tampa, FL. When he played, he was the definition of “the” true ace for me. I had always hoped the Yankees would find a way to acquire him when he played for the Blue Jays but recognized that intra-division trades of superstars rarely happen. Still, he was marvel to watch pitch despite his domination of the Yankees. His loss was felt and I am deeply saddened by his untimely departure.
A lesser known baseball player also died this week but it was equally as sad. 17-year-old Daniel Flores, a catcher out of Venezuela the Boston Red Sox had signed in last year’s International Draft for $3.1 million signing bonus, succumbed to cancer in Boston. Flores was rated as the fifth best prospect in the Red Sox system according to MLB.com. Prior to the draft last year, Flores was ranked as the second best International prospect behind shortstop Wander Franco (who signed with the Tampa Bay Rays). By comparison, the Yankees top signing, outfielder Everson Pereira, was ranked fourth. According to scouting reports, Flores would have been a brilliant defensive whiz behind the plate. It’s unfortunate he is unable to reach his dream to play at Fenway Park but hopefully his signing bonus provides long-term security for his family and loved ones.
May both men rest in peace.
No Gold Glove Awards but a few Silver Sluggers…
Congratulations to Aaron Judge and Gary Sanchez for winning their first Silver Slugger Awards. These were easy calls and it would have been a great travesty if either player had been omitted. Now, we await the results of AL Rookie of the Year and AL MVP which should bring more hardware in Judge’s direction. Individual awards are nice but we really need to get these guys a World Series championship!
Today is Veteran’s Day. For all veterans everywhere, thank you for your service. We remember you today and always…
In closing, as always, Go Yankees!
|Credit: Joe Nicholson/USA TODAY Sports|
Yankees 5, Mariners 1…
Powered by a monster blast from Aaron Judge that nearly reached the back wall of the upper left stands (if not for a fan in the next to the last row), the Yankees won for the second night in a row in Seattle. Statcast was unable to capture the length of the homer and it was estimated at 440 feet although it seemed longer to most people watching. It probably wasn’t the game highlight that Mariners starter Andrew Moore wanted to see after the game but he’s not the first nor the last pitcher that will have to wait a very long time to watch a home run ball drop with Judge at the plate.
The game should have been about veteran lefty starter CC Sabathia (9-3). Celebrating his 37th birthday, CC had previously never won a birthday start in his career. Friday night was a different story. The game didn’t start like it was going to be a good evening for the road gray. After Moore breezed through the first three of the Yankees order in the top of the first inning, CC ran into trouble after easily retiring the first two batters in the bottom of the inning. He lost Robinson Cano, walking him on a full count. Nelson Cruz hit a “loud” single to the left field wall, with Cano racing around to third. Chase Headley’s inexperience as a first baseman showed with the next batter, Kyle Seager. Seager hit a grounder that deflected off Headley’s glove and was retrieved by Starlin Castro in shallow right. Headley went back to first but his foot placement was inch or two off the base. So, although Castro’s throw to first was in time, Headley’s recovery to move his foot to the base was too late to get Seager. Cano scored on the play. Mitch Haniger laced a line drive down the first base line, past a diving Headley, to load the bases. Fortunately, CC induced Guillermo Heredia to hit an infield grounder, Todd Frazier to Starlin Castro, to force Haniger out at second for the final out. Whew!
|Credit: Stephen Brashear/Getty Images|
After the Yankees failed to score in the of the 2nd despite a couple of hits, Ben Gamel opened the bottom of the inning for the M’s with a double to center past a running Brett Gardner. Mike Zunino followed with a hard hit liner to left but Clint Frazier made a terrific diving catch for the out and held Gamel at second. As YES Network Analyst David Cone said, “Young athleticism on display”. Gamel was subsequently erased at third on a fielder’s choice by Didi Gregorius with a snap throw to Todd Frazier. CC was able to retire Danny Valencia on a weak grounder back to the pitcher to emerge from the inning unscathed.
The Yankees were finally able to get to M’s starter Andrew Moore in the 3rd inning. Chase Headley opened the inning with a double to left center, just beyond the glove of diving center fielder Guillermo Heredia. Red Thunder blasted a double off the right center wall as Headley circled around to score just ahead of the throw which got away from catcher Mike Zunino. Clint Frazier tagged on the next play, a fly ball by Brett Gardner to center, and made it to third just ahead of a tremendous throw by Heredia. A sacrifice fly to warning track in center by Aaron Judge scored Frazier and the Yankees had a 2-1 lead.
With CC Sabathia seemingly gaining steam as he progressed through the innings, the Yankees scored again in the 5th. Brett Gardner singled on a line drive to right. Gary Sanchez singled to left, with Gardner moving to third. Aaron Judge came up and smashed the Andrew Moore offering to left as the ball nearly left the stadium. 5-1, Yankees. 4 RBI’s on the night for Judge.
|Credit: Joe Nicholson/USA TODAY Sports|
CC opened the sixth but he walked the leadoff batter, Kyle Seager, and his night was done. I know that CC could have continued to be effective, but the high pitch count in the early innings had Sabathia at 98 pitches following the walk to Seager. Nevertheless, this is no longer the Tyler Clippard era of the bullpen. Tommy Kahnle, who might be my new favorite Yankee, came in to strike out Mitch Haniger. He easily retired pinch-hitter Jarrod Dyson and Ben Gamel for another highly effective inning of work.
The bottom of the 7th saw the 2017 Yankees debut for former Yankees and White Sox closer David Robertson. D-Rob was the magnificent reliever of old as he retired the side by strikeout. Welcome back, D-Rob! We have certainly missed you and your leg kick. My only concern about D-Rob pitching the 7th was that he would not be there as a safety net in later innings. Fortunately, the Yankees bullpen was as good as advertised. Dellin Betances got into a little trouble with a double by Robinson Cano and a single by Mitch Haniger, sandwiched between two strikeouts, had runners at the corners. But he was able to get Jarrod Dyson to pop up to third to leave the runners stranded.
With Aroldis Chapman taking the night off due to a non-save situation, Adam Warren came on in the 9th. The pesky Ben Gamel opened with a single to left, but was eliminated when Mike Zunino grounded into a double play, Gregorius to Castro to Headley. Jean Segura hit a hard grounder to Didi Gregorius and he threw to Chase Headley for the final out. The Yankees win!
|Credit: Stephen Brashear/Getty Images|
The Yankees (50-45) were unable to gain ground on the Boston Red Sox in the AL East, however, they did move into a tie for second place. The Red Sox scored five runs in the first inning to back Chris Sale as they beat the Los Angeles Angels, 6-2. The Tampa Bay Rays fell 4-3 to the Texas Rangers. The Yankees and the Rays are both 3 1/2 games behind the Red Sox.
The Toddfather was the only Yankee without a hit other than the bench players who didn’t get into the game. So, we’ll have to wait a bit longer for the first T-Frazier blast.
Odds & Ends…
It’s tough watching Ben Gamel have such success in Seattle. I understand the reasons for the trade but it doesn’t make it any easier to watch him thrive at the MLB level for another team. I don’t know if he’ll have a Jay Buhner type career but it was comparable circumstances. Enjoyed watching the tremendous Minor League exploits of the player, only to watch him traded to Seattle for a long and prosperous career. The two players the Yankees received for Gamel are Jio Orozco and Juan De Paula. Orozco, 19, a right-handed pitcher, is 2-0 with 2.36 ERA in five games (four starts) for the Advanced Rookie League Pulaski Yankees while De Paula, also a 19-year-old righty, is 2-3 with 5.25 ERA in five games (all starts) for the Short-Season A Staten Island Yankees. In other words, it is going to be a very long time before we see any payoff for Gamel.
I liked David Cone’s comments about the Yankees new and improved combination of power arms in the bullpen. He said that it has reduced the need for starting pitchers to a “soft-tossing lefty to give you three or four (innings)”. I know that I am loving the bullpen parade of the current crew. I do not miss the cringing feeling that came with the entry of Tyler Clippard into the game. But despite the strong pen, the Yankees do need to do something about the starting rotation. We’ll probably have to live with a few more starts by Luis Cessa (I’d prefer to see Caleb Smith) as I doubt any of the available starters are moved until the last minute before the trading deadline as their current teams seek maximum return. I have no speculation who the Yankees should acquire other than I don’t want to lose top and highly regarding prospects which probably means the team will have to stand pat or take chances for catching lightning in a bottle with bottom feeders. I am hopefully optimistic that GM Brian Cashman will surprise me.
Brian Cashman is on record saying that Red Thunder will be returned to Triple A when Aaron Hicks comes off the DL but with each passing game, it is so hard to think that the Yankees most exciting outfielder, behind Aaron Judge, will have to go down. He has shown he is ready the big time and he has nothing left to prove for the RailRiders. He is better player, right now, than Jacoby Ellsbury despite the $20 million plus difference being paid to the latter player this year. Money for nothin’ and the chicks for free. I hope Clint Frazier stays.
Have a great Saturday! Let’s keep this winning streak alive! Go Yankees!
|Credit: Ted S Warren/AP|
Credit: Paul J Bereswill-The New York Post
Rangers 8, Yankees 1…
You have to score runs to win so starter Luis Cessa should not be faulted for this one. Aaron Judge tried too. He hit his league-leading 26th home run to extend his current hitting streak to 26 games. For as disappointing as the offense was from everybody else, the Yankees entered the 9th inning just a three-run jack away from tying the game.
However, Manager Joe Girardi chose to bring in game-killer Tyler Clippard. Perhaps we should just call him Relyt Drappilc because he is pitching so damn back-ass-wards right now. If you are feeling generous and want to give the other team the opportunity to score lots of runs, just bring Clippard into a game. But more rips on Clippard later.
Who is Austin Bibens-Dirkx? The Yankees never seem to do well against unknown rookies but this dude is a 32-year-old in his sixth major league organization. He spent 12 years in the minor leagues and was in the independent leagues last year. When the Rangers pitching staff gets healthy, we’ll probably never hear his name again. But on Saturday, he owned the Yankees. Aside from Judge’s solo home run in the sixth, Bibens-Dirkx only allowed four other meaningless hits in seven innings of work. He’ll be telling his grandkids one day about the time he shut down the high and mighty Yankees on the hallowed grounds of Yankee Stadium.
Credit: Randy Miller-NJ Advance Media for NJ.com
Cessa (0-2) was not awful but he did depart the game after five innings (having thrown 86 pitches). He allowed three runs on three hits, walked two, and struck out eight. His mistake pitch was a slider thrown to Carlos Gomez in the fourth inning that ended up in the left field stands for two runs, giving the Rangers a 3-0 lead. As YES Network announcer David Cone put it, it was a slider that stopped sliding or a slider that takes a seat (pulled up a chair).
Credit: Randy Miller-NJ Advance Media for NJ.com
After Judge had brought the Yankees to within two runs with his homer, Rangers catcher Robinson Chirinos answered with a solo shot of his own in the seventh off Yankees reliever Jonathan Holder. It was the tenth home run of the season for Chirinos in only 95 at-bats.
With two outs in the seventh, Tyler Webb entered the game in relief of Holder. It was Tyler’s Major League debut and he got his first batter (Shin-Soo Choo) to line out to end the inning. Webb pitched the eighth, retiring the three batters he faced, including one by strikeout, to complete a perfect debut.
Credit: Andy Marlin-USA TODAY Sports
Sadly, Girardi opted to turn to Clippard for the ninth and he snuffed any chance for a comeback. Before he had recorded the third out, Clippard had allowed four more runs on a wild pitch and two doubles. He allowed a total of four hits in the inning and gave up two walks. The once-reliable set up artist is now a huge albatross. I am not sure how you can turn him around in games without costly implications. This is one of the worst stretches that I’ve ever seen. While he pitched well for the Yankees last year after his acquisition from the Arizona Diamondbacks at the trading deadline, his numbers in the Sonoran Desert weren’t that great. For the 2016 D-Backs, he was 2-3 with 4.30 ERA. That’s closer to the pitcher that we are seeing today. I hope Clippard can turn this thing around but at the moment, I am not optimistic. Clippard’s too valuable (I think?) to cut so hopefully he does work through this funk. I apologize for being so harsh but the last few weeks with Clippard have not been enjoyable.
Credit: Frank Franklin II-Associated Press
Facing the huge deficit, the Yankees went down 1-2-3 in the bottom of the 9th, with two strikeouts, and the Rangers walked away with the victory.
Fortunately for the Yankees (40-32), the Los Angeles Angels defeated the Boston Red Sox, 6-3, so the teams remain tied atop the AL East Standings. The Tampa Bay Rays also lost (8-3 to the Baltimore Orioles) so they stayed 2.5 games back.
Tyler Austin, making his season debut, finished hitless in three at-bats with two strikeouts and a grounder into a double play. There was concern in the fifth inning when Pete Kozma, standing off first base, jarred Austin’s left wrist while racing back to first standing up after a line out by Choo. Austin shook it off and continued the game. It does raise the question of who is the safety net for Austin should he get hurt. Chase Headley is currently unable to play due to back spasms and it is best to not over-expose Matt Holliday at the position.
Odds & Ends…
The Yankees have signed their top pick, RHP Clarke Schmidt, to an ‘as-expected’ below-allocation contract. By signing for $2,184,300 (or $1,274,300 below the allocated value of the 16th overall pick), the Yankees had the money to “overpay” RHP Matt Sauer, RHP Trevor Stephan, OF Canaan Smith, and RHP Dalton Higgins. With a signing bonus of $2.5 million, second round pick Sauer ended up as the most costly of the signed draft choices. The Yankees have only one player in the top 20 that remains unsigned…18th pick RHP Garrett Whitlock.
Credit: Allen Sharp-Spurs & Feathers
Jacoby Ellsbury made a rehab start yesterday for the Scranton/Wilkes-Barre RailRiders. He broke up a no-hitter with a double in the fifth inning of SWB’s 8-0 loss to the Pawtucket Red Sox. He finished 1-for-3. He’ll start at DH today for SWB before moving over to AA-Trenton when the RailRiders hit the road.
Today is one of the best days of the year for the Yankees. It’s Old Timer’s Day. Pre-Game introductions begin at 11:30 am Eastern. It is always so fun to hear the name announcements for the Yankees legends as they run (or walk) out onto the field. Jorge Posada will be making his first Old Timer’s appearance at Yankee Stadium. Hip, hip, Jorge! This year’s participants will include Jesse Barfield (no offense, we should have kept Al Leiter), Scott Bradley, Homer Bush, Rick Cerone, David Cone, Bucky Dent, Al Downing, Brian Doyle, Mariano Duncan, John Flaherty, Whitey “Chairman of the Board” Ford, Joe Girardi, Rich “Goose” Gossage, Ron “Louisiana Lightning” Guidry, Charlie Hayes, Rickey Henderson, Reginald Martinez “Mr October” Jackson, Scott Kamieniecki, Pat Kelly, Don “Gooney Bird” Larsen, Graeme Lloyd, Hector Lopez, Sparky Lyle, Kevin Maas, Constantino “Tino” Martinez, Lee “Maz” Mazzilli, Ramiro Mendoza, Stump Merrill, Gene “Stick” Michael, Jeff Nelson, Paul “The Warrior” O’Neill, Tim “Rock” Raines, Willie Randolph, Mickey “Mick the Quick” Rivers, Tanyon Sturtze, Ralph Terry, Marcus Thames, Joe Torre, Mike Torrez (sorry, but I still think of him as a Red Sock), Roy White and Bernie “Bern Baby Bern” Williams.
Credit: Jim McIsaac-Getty Images
Have a great Sunday! It will be a fun day! Go Yankees!
Yankees 7, Blue Jays 0…
The Yankees now have as many wins at Rogers Centre (two) as they had all of last year. They’ve also assured themselves that they’ll leave Toronto later today with no worse than a split of the four-game series and have the potential to take three of four.
There were questions about Yankees starter Jordan Montgomery coming into the game. Even Manager Joe Girardi was a bit testy before the game when the subject of hot prospect Chance Adams was raised. “Are you kidding me?”, Girardi said. “Chance Adams has one or two starts in Triple-A. That kid was like 16-5 last year between Double-A and Triple-A. He’s pitched really well here. Give Chance a chance to get ready. I like what he’s doing and he might pitch for us one day, but we’re not ready to start that.” Adams has actually had four starts at Triple-A and was 13-1 last year between High-A and Double A but that’s beside the point. The best answer to the Chance Adams question is to pitch like you belong in the Major Leagues.
Jordan Montgomery answered that question.
The tall lefty limited the Blue Jays to three hits over six innings. He did walk 3 batters but struck out 5 in lowering his season ERA to 3.67. It was a great performance by the 24-year-old and one that shows he wants to be part of the fun that is called the 2017 New York Yankees.
|Credit: Tom Szczerbowski-Getty Images|
The game was really a tale of two stories. The first half was a tight pitcher’s game as the Yankees were only able to score two unearned runs in the third through the game’s first six innings. In the third, with one out, Rob Refsnyder reached first base when Blue Jays shortstop Troy Tulowitzki booted a ground ball twice for an E-6. Ref stole second (let’s see Chris Carter do that) to put himself in scoring position. After Brett Gardner flied out for the second out, the Aarons followed with doubles as Hicks scored Refsnyder and Judge scored Hicks. Those were the only Yankees hits until the seventh inning.
The Yankees finally scored an earned run off Blue Jays starter Joe Biagini in the seventh but it was a very good performance by Toronto’s 27-year-old right-hander. However, on this day, Montgomery was better.
With the pitching duel out of the way following the departures of both Montgomery and Biagini, the game turned into a Home Run Derby in the eighth inning for the Bombers. With reliever Jason Grilli, a former closer, on the mound, it was time for some fun. Brett Gardner opened the inning with his 12th homer of the year with a shot to right to put the Yankees up 4-0. After the Aarons contributed the first two outs of the inning, it was time for the show. First up, Matt Holliday. Obviously upset that his Bald Brother, Gardner, had taken the lead in their home run battle, evened the score with his 12th. “I gotcha Gardy!” I loved that line as Holliday returned to the dugout. The next batter, Starlin Castro, with the 9th pitch of the at-bat, just cleared the left field fence for his 9th home run of the season. That brought Didi Gregorius to the plate. With a shot to right, Didi completed the back-to-back-to-back homer barrage, ending Grilli’s day and capping the Yankees’ scoring. Man, I hated to see Grilli go…
|Credit: Dan Hamilton-USA TODAY Sports, via Reuters|
Credit David Cone of the YES Network with the reference to Rodney Dangerfield in the movie Easy Money when talking about the Bald Brothers. “Why don’t you two put your heads together and make an @$$ out of yourselves.” The ending of the quote may not be appropriate for these two but it is a blast watching Holliday and Gardner match each other homer by homer.
It was an interesting stat that the Yankees won this game without hitting at least one single. All of the hits were either doubles or home runs.
Adam Warren, Tyler Clippard and Dellin Betances combined for three innings of hitless relief in support of Montgomery (3-4).
The Yankees (32-21) increased their AL East lead to three games as the Baltimore Orioles slipped back to third following their 5-2 loss to the Boston Red Sox. The O’s are 3 1/2 games back.
Odds & Ends…
I need to preface this by saying that I hope Jacoby Ellsbury is not seriously hurt and will not have long-term health implications. According to the Yankees, Ellsbury has suspended baseball activities and will see a neurologist in New York tomorrow due to continued headaches after his concussion. I was glad to hear that Aaron Hicks will continue as the starter in center field although I hate to take satisfaction at Ellsbury’s expense. Ellsbury aside, Hicks has proven he deserves to be a starter in the Major Leagues. The former top Twins prospect is having a career year and is such a part of the success so far this season.
There is not much to report from AAA-Scranton/Wilkes-Barre. The RailRiders were two-hit in a shutout loss to the Toledo Mud Hens so it was an off-night for everybody.
Although the talk is that Gleyber Torres will be promoted to the Yankees later this summer if Chase Headley continues to scuffle, Nick Cafardo of the Boston Globe is reporting that New York is more likely to pursue a more proven veteran for the hot corner if the Yankees remain in the pennant chase.
Congratulations to Albert Pujols of the Los Angeles Angels who hit his 600th home run in grand fashion…a grand slam off Ervin Santana of the Minnesota Twins.
|Credit: Mark J Terrill-Associated Press|
Also, a shout out to Miami Marlins starter Edinson Volquez. He threw the season’s first no-hitter yesterday against the Arizona Diamondbacks in Miami. He accomplished the feat with just 98 pitches and he did it on a day when he paid tribute prior to the game to his good friend and former teammate, the late Kansas City Royals pitcher Yordano Ventura. Yesterday would have been Ventura’s 26th birthday. After the game, Volquez dedicated the performance to late Miami ace Jose Fernandez and Ventura.
|Credit: Wilfredo Lee-Associated Press|
Have a great Sunday! Hopefully the Yankees can continue the winning feeling today to help make the flight back to New York a happy one.
We took a mulligan on the first 21 rounds…
It amazes me when I look down this list of names…
Carl Everett, OF
Robert Eenhoorn, SS
Tate Seefried, 1B
Kirt Ojala, LHP
Richard Lantrip, INF
Sam Militello, RHP
Jalal Leach, OF
Tim Rumer, LHP
Matthew Terrell, OF
Darren Hodges, RHP
Richard Hines, RHP
Ron Frazier, RHP
Jeff Motuzas, C
Bo Siberz, RHP
Michael Smith, RHP
Ricky Ledee, OF
Bryan Faw, RHP
Bob Deller, OF
Brent Gilbert, RHP
Kevin Jordan, 2B
Keith Seiler, LHP
These are the players that the Yankees selected prior to Andy Pettitte in the 1990 MLB June Amateur Draft. Of course, Carl Everett’s name stands out but he achieved major league success elsewhere. I always had high hopes for Ricky Ledee, but he didn’t live up to the hype. I also liked Sam Militello, but if memory serves correctly, his career was ultimately derailed by injuries. But still, none of these players came close to matching Pettitte’s career. It is startling how many pitchers the Yankess took in front of Andy, including three left-handed pitchers. It’s also amazing to think that when this group was drafted, my now 22 year old son was only 6 months old.
I realize that Andy is nearly 40 years old, but all things considered, physically, he looks much younger. Took away the strands of gray in his hair and he’d still look 30. I am not trying to say that he is going to throw like a 30 year old, but I don’t feel the drop-off from 2010 is going to be as severe as some suspect. I remember when pitchers like David Cone and Roger Clemens were getting older. They were great pitchers but it felt like they were getting old. Somehow, Andy doesn’t project that same feeling. Red Sox manager Bobby Valentine may have his doubts about Andy’s comeback but I’d rather have Andy at the back end of the rotation than what Valentine will be putting out there. If it doesn’t work, it doesn’t work. As the saying goes, “nothing ventured, nothing gained”.
Fragile: Handle with care…
I am not quite sure what to think about the news of Joba Chamberlain’s latest injury. Apparently, he suffered an ankle injury playing with his son that required surgery today. Expected to be back by June, this will obviously delay his return. It seems like the Yankees gave up too early on former pitcher Alfredo Aceves after he suffered two successive injuries that kept him off the field. I don’t know the exact details but the release of Aceves surprised me at the time and of course he found success in Boston. I hope the Yankees do not prematurely lose confidence in Chamberlain. I am not comparing Chamberlain’s situation to Aceves other than to emphasize that I hope the organization takes a tolerant and patient approach to see if Chamberlain can still become the pitcher we thought he would be.
Not only are you out, you’re outta here!…
Brian Cashman and Joe Girardi keep preaching patience with DH Raul Ibanez, but when it comes to that topic, my patience has worn incredibly thin. His lack of hits is troubling under any situation. Given the lineup also has a notoriously slow starting slugger at first base (Mark Teixeira), the Yankees can ill-afford multiple ice bats in April. The Yankees have the talent to acquire a younger, more productive hitter, and that’s definitely a road that I’d be exploring if I was the Yankees general manager. Of course, Brian Cashman is a better general manager that I’d ever be even in my own mind so I am sure this will play out exactly as Cash anticipates. Or at least I hope…
Peyton drinking the Orange Crush? At least he stayed with the horses…
Peyton Manning, the Denver Bronco. I am a bit surprised by his choice. Of course, it ended Tebow-mania in the Mile High City as the Broncos shipped #15 to the New York Jets. The Jets trade also surprised me given they already have Mark Sanchez. I had expected Tebow to go to Florida although I do recognize that the Jacksonville Jaguars are grooming Blaine Gabbert. It will be interesting to see how the Sanchez-Tebow situation plays out in New York. Maybe they can co-exist, but all things considered, this would be yet another surprise for me.
I thought it was a class gesture for former Broncos QB Frank Tripucka to relinquish his retired number 18 for Peyton to wear. Obviously, when Peyton retires, Tripucka will have to share the retired status with Manning. I’d like to see more retired players make those types of moves for certain players.
Think Ron Yary…
I am really worried the Minnesota Vikings are going to use the #3 pick on CB Mo Claiborne rather than stellar OT Matt Kalil. I know that Claiborne is a potential top 5 pick and the Vikings have a lousy secondary, but I just don’t see how you can pass up a franchise tackle who can protect Christian Ponder for years to come.
And then there was light…
Although we’ve been having summer like weather in Minnesota, it’s still hard to believe that the lights of Target Field will soon be illuminating downtown Minneapolis. As a downtown resident, I love the lights of the park which have been dark since last October. It will be fun to see them return in the near future. I only hope the Twins aren’t greeted with a heap of snow (which could happen in this part of the country). I am planning to attend my first 2012 game at Target Field in late April when the Boston Red Sox come to town. For three nights, I will be a Twins fan!
It was a great win by Freddy
Garcia on Saturday (six innings, two hits and no runs) in the Yankees’ 5-2
victory over the Texas Rangers. The
superlatives about Garcia poured in after the game including one comment that
compared Garcia to David Cone in terms of the latter pitcher’s ability to find
ways to win when he didn’t have his best stuff.
Jim McIsaac/Getty Images
I do not doubt Garcia’s
ability. I can recall many times over
the years when Garcia completely shut down the Yankees. It didn’t matter if he had been struggling at
the time or was fighting some ailment.
He always seemed to shine in the most difficult moments. My concern with Garcia is his ability to
sustain the effectiveness he showed yesterday.
There’s no doubt, in my mind, that we’ll see Kevin Millwood and/or
Carlos Silva in the rotation at some point.
I am not trying to be
pessimistic, but rather just a realist.
With Phil Hughes on the DL, it is not an automatic that he’ll regain his
velocity by simply receiving rest and treatment. A.J. Burnett showed that he is still
vulnerable after giving up two home runs in one inning against the Baltimore
Orioles last week after pitching so well in the prior six innings. We’ll have the opportunity to see what
Bartolo Colon can do, but my concern about him is not with his arm. His weight and ability to stay healthy are
the key issues.
It was disappointing to hear
that reliever Pedro Feliciano will need season-ending surgery. Given that lefty Damaso Marte is also on the
shelf, the Yankees will need to find another lefty to complement Boone
Logan. Unfortunately, the rest of the
league knows that and they’ll be looking for a King’s ransom in any potential
At this point in the season,
it’s nice to see the Yankees in first place with an 8-5 mark, while the Boston
Red Sox sit in last place at 3-10.
However, with just under 150 games still remaining, I would be very
foolish to think that the current standings will stay unchanged. The Red Sox will figure it out and they’ll be
an offensive force through the summer. I
am concerned that the key reason the Yankees have been winning is their home
run production (24 homers in 13 games).
Hopefully, they’ll begin to find other ways to win as the season
It bothers me that the
Boston Red Sox will avoid a luxury tax penalty by delaying the announcement of
Adrian Gonzalez‘s extension until this week.
Perhaps they did the same thing with Clay Buchholz, but the Gonzalez
signing was a foregone conclusion. It
was obvious that the Sox had reached an agreement with Gonzalez before the
start of the season. It was clear they
simply circumvented the system to avoid paying the additional tax.
To go a bit off topic, I am
excited about the upcoming NFL Draft despite the current lockout. I remain hopeful that the owners and players
will reach an agreement before the loss of any games. With the draft, I really hope the Minnesota
Vikings can find a quarterback. However,
their draft position at #12 is not ideal for their search for a franchise QB. The top tier QB’s, like Blaine Gabbert and
Cam Newton, will be gone and it will be too early to take somebody like Jake
Locker. It will be interesting to see
what the Vikings can do. The Vikings
chief rival, the Green Bay Packers, seem to have a knack for finding QB’s. They coaxed one great season out of Don
Majkowski. They traded for Brett Favre after
they missed out on the opportunity to draft Troy Aikman. They drafted Aaron Rodgers despite having
Favre and a few other highly touted former college QB’s on the roster. Hopefully, the Vikings can replicate the
Packers blue print to find their next great QB…