|Credit: Sarah Stier, Getty Images|
Aaron Boone’s Defining Moment…
Thanks to noted podcaster @Jomboy of Talkin’ Yanks, the words of Yankees manager Aaron Boone to young home plate umpire Brennan Miller were immortalized on Thursday afternoon.
“My guys are fucking savages in that fucking box and you’re having a piece of shit start to this game. I feel bad for you, but fucking get better. That guy is a good pitcher, but our guys are fucking savages in that box, our guys are fucking savages in the fucking box, tighten it up right now.”
The words, certain to become 2019’s rallying cry for the Yankees, almost immediately began showing up on t-shirts as they went viral thanks to social media. I loved every minute of it. I’ve been a Boone supporter since the day he was hired. I think at the time, my top choice had been San Francisco Giants bench coach Hensley Meulens but when the Yankees named Boone as the manager, I was on board with the choice. I liked Joe Girardi but I never once pined for his return after the decision was made to let him go upon the expiration of his contract following the 2017 season.
I knew there would be a learning curve for Boone. Every manager has to start some time. Joe Torre had his own early bumps with the Mets when he first started his managerial career. Boone’s mistakes last season were magnified, thanks to the New York media, and many fans were unforgiving. But as this season has progressed, the growth in Boone as a manager has been evident. It didn’t take his words this week to prove he had gotten better, it’s been on display for weeks, perhaps months. However, Thursday’s tirade showed the World that Aaron Boone has his players’ backs. He is an excellent leader and he has the full respect and command of the clubhouse. I think the ‘next man up’ mentality of the 2019 Yankees is fueled by Boone’s leadership style.
|Credit: Kathy Willens, AP|
Since the brim of Boone’s cap touched the brim of home plate umpire Brennan Miller’s cap during the post-ejection rant (seriously?), he was suspended for one game and served it last night against the Colorado Rockies. Bench coach Josh Bard, a graduate of Cherry Creek High School in Greenwood Village, Colorado (a suburb of Denver), served as Yankees manager against his once-hometown Rockies.
Boone’s words aside, this has been a memorable week for the Bronx Savages. The four-game series with the Tampa Bay Rays didn’t start well when Mets cast-off Travis d’Arnaud homered three times including the game-winner, a three-run shot off Aroldis Chapman in the top of the ninth inning on Monday night when the Yankees were just a strike away from victory. It was a tough loss to accept (harder than most), but the Yankees rebounded and took the next three games to win the series, leaving the Rays a distant eight games behind in the AL East standings. The Yankees have won 12 of 17 games from the Rays this year, and it’s been the difference-maker in the standings.
Despite the successful Tampa Bay series, I was a little worried going into last night’s game with the Rockies. It kind of felt like one of those series where the team, coming off an emotional series with the Rays and looking ahead to a road trip next week that takes the Yankees to Minneapolis and Boston to play AL contenders, could let up a little. But if Friday night’s game is any indication, it is still ‘pedal to the metal’. After falling behind 2-0, the Yankees coasted to the 8-2 victory after Edwin Encarnacion blasted his ‘walk-the-parrot’ grand slam to take the lead in the bottom of the third. With three hits and some excellent defensive play, many were referring to this as Mike Tauchman’s game. That’s what I’m Tauchin’ about! The former Colorado Rockie, who was never really given a shot to play in the Mile High City, showed his former team they may have erred in trading him away earlier this year. Tauchman has double the plate appearances with the Yankees this season than he had in two years with the Rockies (shuttling back and forth from the minors). Former Coloradan players DJ LeMahieu and Adam Ottavino, instrumental to the Rockies’ success of the past few seasons, also had a role in the decisive victory. Le Machine had two RBIs and Otto struck out the side in the top of the sixth inning. A friend, who is a die-hard Rockies fan, said she loves to see LeMahieu and Ottavino do well but “just not against us”.
The Yankees’ win, combined with losses by both the Tampa Bay Rays and the Boston Red Sox last night, leaves the Yanks nine games up in the AL East standings. They are 30 games over .500 for the first time this season at 63-33, and have 11 fewer losses than the second-place Rays. I am always fearful of a swoon that could erase the large lead, but you have to like where the Yankees sit entering play on July 20th. YES Network analyst David Cone had some great words after last night’s game:
“If you don’t like the Yankees, I mean if you are a Yankee hater, this has gotta be a really obnoxious year for you.”
Since trading deadline deals generally start popping up the week prior to the deadline, this coming week could be very active with the hard July 31st deadline just around the corner. The Yankees have been great so far this season despite the injury challenges, but the Houston Astros, with just one less win than the Yankees, could substantially improve their starting rotation in the next eleven days if they successfully land one of the top starting pitchers on the market to slot in behind Justin Verlander and Gerrit Cole. In other words, there is room for the Yankees to get better and they have to in order to ensure October success.
The Yankees had Jim Hendry, special assistant to Brian Cashman, and others in Detroit last night to watch Toronto’s Marcus Stroman. There were a number of other teams in attendance to watch the New York native shut out the lowly Tigers on six hits over seven innings, with five strikeouts and no walks. For Stroman, a trade to the Yankees would represent the elimination of a 27 1/2 game deficit in a single day. It think that would energize him, as it would any of the names that have been connected to the Yankees in recent weeks. I think my only hangup with acquiring Stroman is sending quality talent to an AL East rival. In many ways, I’d prefer to see someone like Clint Frazier or Estevan Florial or Albert Abreu head to Cleveland or San Francisco for no other reason than they are not AL East teams. But I am very intrigued with the idea of having the talented Stroman in the starting rotation.
As much as I like Madison Bumgarner, I don’t really expect him to show up in the Bronx. He could find his way to Houston, Minneapolis, or Atlanta which wouldn’t be ideal but there’s not much we can do about it except beat him when the time comes. Robbie Ray of the Arizona Diamondbacks continues to be a name to watch but the D-Backs are only a game out of the NL Wild Card hunt. Meanwhile, the Texas Rangers have lost five in a row to push them 5 1/2 games out in the AL Wild Card chase, which could potentially increase chances that Mike Minor is dealt.
For all the names that have been mentioned, I still half-expect Brian Cashman to land a solid starter that no one has mentioned. For as much as I like Luis Severino and Dellin Betances, I am taking the approach they’ll provide nothing this year. The Yankees have played 99 games without them and it’s hard to envision them making a significant contribution with the 63 games remaining in the regular season. Maybe they become solid bullpen options by October but realistically I am not counting on it. It seems like there have been too many setbacks for both so I am not pinning any hopes on them.
I keep seeing Yankee fans saying the team shouldn’t trade Deivi Garcia or Estevan Florial or other top prospects in the organization. I am sorry but if the payoff is a World Series championship this year, NO ONE is untouchable. I guarantee the Chicago Cubs have never regretted their decision to trade Gleyber Torres in 2016. They might regret the 2017 trade of Eloy Jimenez but not Torres because it meant the first World Series championship in a century for them. It hasn’t been a century for the Yankees, but it has been ten long years and several Red Sox championships since the Yankees last hoisted the trophy. We need to keep an open mind and let Brian Cashman do his magic. He lives for these hot, humid July days and I am confident that he’ll make this exciting, fun and very special Yankee team even better in the coming days. Our goal is to take the World Series championship away from the Boston Red Sox. Anything less is unacceptable. I don’t want another ALDS or ALCS exit. The window of opportunity is now. There may be pain along the way, but we need to persevere. Like Buck Showalter said the other day, “prospects are just prospects”. I want guys who can make a difference in three months, not three years.
The Yankees released catcher Ryan Lavarnway from his minor league contract this week and in his first game with the Cincinnati Reds, the team that picked him up, he hits two home runs and drives in six RBIs. Of course he does. I know, he’ll never sustain it and will prove to be the journeyman catcher that he is, but it’s funny how guys prosper outside of Pinstripes when they land in low pressure environments. Not exactly people that you’d want in the trenches with you but good for them.
The Baby Savages (DSL Yankees) are at it again. After scoring the most runs in professional baseball with their 38-2 thrashing of the Twins’ affiliate earlier this month, they scored 19 runs in the second inning of last night’s game with the DSL Angels en route to a 23-10 victory. They brought 23 men to the plate during the highly productive inning. They are only following the lead of the big league club.
As always, Go Yankees!
|Photo Credit: Jamie Squire, Getty Images|
Yanks Take Two from the KC Royals…
The Yankees made Saturday quite the enjoyable day with two wins in the day/night doubleheader although they had to hold on for dear life in the second game after building an early five-run lead. No matter, a 6-5 win counts the same as 6-1. The Yankees won the first game, 7-3, which had represented a comeback after the Royals had tied the game at 3 in the sixth inning with, surprise, a three-run homer off J.A. Happ. Actually, to Happ’s defense, he pitched better than that and was able to walk away from the game with a win thanks to the power of Luke Voit and good ‘penmanship’ by Adam Ottavino and Luis Cessa.
At 34-17, the Yankees are one game better than they were last year after 51 games. A year ago, at 33-18, they trailed the Boston Red Sox by 2 1/2 games after dropping a 5-1 game to Justin Verlander and the Houston Astros. Their lone run was a homer off the bat of the legendary Greg Bird. The loser that day was Domingo German. He was still in search of his first win as his record fell to 0-3 to go with his 5.45 ERA. What a difference a year makes. This year, the Yankees lead the AL East by 3 games over the Tampa Bay Rays. The Rays won yesterday but the Yankees were able to gain ground, thanks to the doubleheader sweep. Meanwhile, it was the Boston Red Sox losing to the Astros this year. After a two-run single by Christian Vasquez to tie the game for Boston in the top of the ninth inning, the Astros walked it off in the bottom of the ninth, courtesy of a bases-loaded single by Carlos Correa. The Red Sox are 27-25, and 7 1/2 games behind the Yankees.
Nice two-run bomb by Luke Voit in the seventh inning of the first game to break the tie. After the ball had landed beyond left field fence, YES Network announcer David Cone called the distance, 470 feet, after commenting that former Royals outfielder Bo Jackson had once hit one into the same area. For the Yankees, it was the longest team home run since Aaron Judge (remember him?) hit one 471 feet in Texas against the Rangers on May 23, 2018. Well, Louis Linwood Voit III is a Missouri native and the state’s motto is “Show-Me”. There’s no question he showed us.
|Photo Credit: Charlie Riedel, AP|
I was impressed with the job done by Chance Adams in the second game in relief of “opener” Chad Green. While the final line for Adams was not impressive due to defensive miscues in the outfield that were surprisingly not called errors, he held his own and did not buckle under pressure. He gave the Yankees four solid innings despite the three ‘earned’ (yeah, right) runs. Often criticized during his minor league career for a lack of control, he walked only one batter, throwing 45 strikes in 66 pitches. He was attacking the strike zone. It was enough to give Adams his first Major League win. I should add a much deserved win. Up only as the 26-man for the doubleheader, Adams has to return to Triple A. He was previously optioned to Triple A on May 19th so he has a few more days until he is eligible for recall to the big league roster. In my opinion, he should be recalled as soon as he is eligible. He’s earned the right to be on the Major League roster.
|Photo Credit: Anthony J Causi, The New York Post|
Listening to the Royals announcers talk, I think the one thing that bothered me was their comments the Yankees “paid” for their depth. That makes it sound like they went out and paid millions for replacement players, grabbing an All-Star at every turn. It could not be further from the truth.
Based on the active 25-man roster as it stands right now, these are the currently active so-called “replacement” players. The adjusted salaries are provided by spotrac.com.
Barrett signed a one-year deal for $555,000 guaranteed (MLB’s minimum salary for 2019) with the Pittsburgh Pirates in March 2019 after he had been claimed off waivers from the San Francisco Giants. The Yankees claimed him on waivers from the Pirates on April 4, 2019. His adjusted salary for the Yankees is $411,792.
Nestor Cortes Jr
Cortes Jr was originally drafted by the Yankees in the 36th round of the 2013 amateur draft. He is also signed for a one-year, minimum salary deal. His adjusted salary with the big league club is $420,744.
Hale re-signed with the Yankees in January 2019 for the minimum one-year, $555,000 in guaranteed money. He had played in South Korea following his release by the Yankees in May 2018. His adjusted salary with the big league club is $393,888.
Estrada was signed as an international amateur free agent on August 2, 2012. Signed to a one-year minimum salary contract, his adjusted salary with the big league club is $489,376.
Urshela was originally acquired from the Toronto Blue Jays on August 4, 2018 for cash and spent the duration of the 2018 season in Triple A. He was re-signed by the Yankees as a minor league free agent in the off-season and is currently working under the one-year minimum salary contract. His adjusted salary for the Yankees is $528,168.
I am only calling Frazier a replacement player because he wasn’t on the Opening Day roster, but he’s obviously more than just a replacement. Frazier was acquired, along with J.P. Feyereisen, Ben Heller, and Justus Sheffield, on July 31, 2016 in the deadline deal that sent Andrew Miller to the Cleveland Indians. Frazier had been picked in the first round, fifth choice overall, of the 2013 MLB Draft by the Indians. For this season, he signed a one-year, $563,300 deal with the Yankees. His adjusted salary for the big league club is $551,096.
Maybin is playing with his third team this year alone. He was signed for the MLB minimum salary by the San Francisco Giants in March 2019. He was released by the Giants about a week before the end of Spring Training, and subsequently signed with the Cleveland Indians where he was toiling in the minor leagues when the Yankees acquired him for cash on April 25, 2019. His adjusted salary with the Yankees is $471,472.
Morales is in the last year of a three-year deal originally signed with the Toronto Blue Jays. When he was acquired by the Oakland A’s on March 27, 2019, the Blue Jays agreed to pay all but $2 million of the $12 million he was owed for the final year of the contract. When the A’s dealt Morales, after designating him for assignment, to the Yankees on May 13th, they included an undisclosed amount of cash which covers the majority of the $9 million is owed for the remainder of the year. According to Spotrac, Morales’s adjusted salary with the Yankees is $1,494,624.
According to my math, that’s a total of $4,761,160. If the Royals announcers want to say the Yankees paid for their depth, I guess you could say the Yankees made a helluva investment for barely more than the Royals are paying Reds castoff Billy Hamilton ($4.25 million). Even with the money being paid to Kendrys Morales, the average adjusted salary for the above listed replacements is $595,145. What were the Yankees supposed to do when the truckload of Yankee stars were sent to the Injured List? Call up a bunch of Single A players to cover? I take exception to the comments that the Yankees paid their way to this success. They are winning despite NOT foolishly throwing money away. As I see it, there’s nothing greedy about the Yankees’ approach to treading water until the big boys return. Actually, they are doing more than just treading water, they are lapping the pool with smart, economical decisions.
After I finished writing the above section, it was announced that Jake Barrett had been optioned to Triple A and placed on the Injured List with right elbow inflammation. His spot on the active roster was taken by reliever Joe Harvey who carries an adjusted salary of $477,440 which doesn’t really change the scope of my analysis, except the total payout increases to $4,826,808 when you drop Barrett and add Harvey, or an average of $603,351. Regardless of how you look at it, the Yankees are not spending an overabundance of cash to find fill-in players.
It was great to see the clips of Didi Gregorius playing for the Single-A Tampa Tarpons last night. He may have been 0-for-3, but he made a few sparkling defensive plays. At the plate, he had a couple of groundouts and a fly out but it was so great to see a bat in his hands again. I can’t wait for him to get his timing down. All hail Sir Didi! Soon, very soon, we’ll see #18 in Pinstripes again. I can’t wait.
|Photo Credit: Chris O’Meara, AP|
Hopefully the Yankees can sweep the KC series today with a win as Domingo German goes for his tenth win (it’s still May, by the way). Some great KC barbecue and a trio of wins would make for a fantastic weekend in the Greater Kansas City Area for the Bronx Bombers. Get a win and head for Yankee Stadium. Sounds like a wonderful plan to me.
As always, Go Yankees!
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.
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.
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.
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.
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”.
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!