|Photo Credit: Las Vegas Review-Journal (Chase Stevens)|
Talk the Talk, but Not Walk the Walk…
All dressed up and nowhere to go. That’s kind of how the Baseball Winter Meetings felt this past week. Lots of talk, not much action. I know, they say the groundwork laid this week will lead to fruit later. I guess we’ll see. There’s talk they should implement a trading deadline in December to spur action (some sort of moratorium against trades for a certain period of time before spring training). Not so sure I am in agreement, but I would have liked to have seen some high flying wheeling and dealing over the past few days rather than much talk about nothing.
While I wanted a bigger piece for the starting rotation, I am happy the Yankees at least came away with J.A. Happ on a two-year contract despite the third year option. In the two year deal presumably worth an estimated $34 million, Happ can trigger the third year for $17 million by pitching at least 27 starts or 165 innings in the second year. At the beginning of the off-season, I preferred re-signing Happ over CC Sabathia and wanted an upgrade for the fourth spot in the rotation. Yes, the Yankees got better by adding LHP James Paxton but he brings additional questions to an already question-filled staff. I was looking for more certainty. Maybe Happ can provide that certainty. He’s been consistent and is a much better pitcher today than he was years ago as a Philadelphia Phillie. We all know how well Happ pitched down the stretch for the Yankees (7-0 with 2.69 ERA in eleven starts). Overall for the season, he was 17-6, 3.65 ERA, 3.4 WAR in thirty-one starts). If the Yankees can get that type of production out of Happ in his age 36 year, I am sure all of us will be pleased. Realistically, I am expecting some regression.
After missing out on Patrick Corbin and failing to land a top starter among the rumored trades swirling over the last couple of weeks, I was concerned when I saw that Happ was getting close to signing with the Phillies. I didn’t want to be stuck with a guy like Lance Lynn for the open rotation spot. So, when it came out Happ was going to re-sign with the Yankees, I felt a tremendous sense of relief.
I am hopeful GM Brian Cashman continues to press for a top, front of the rotation type of starter but at least he is no longer in a position of desperation to fill out the staff.
I was excited when the rumors circulated about a possible three-way trade with the Mets and Marlins that would have brought Noah Syndergaard to the Yankees. But honestly, I don’t see the Mets trading any of their stars to their cross-town rivals regardless of the return. Maybe it’s a new world order with new Mets GM Brodie Van Wagenen but last time I checked the Wilpons still own the team. The latest rumors about that potential three-way trade involve the San Diego Padres as the third team instead of the Yankees. Maybe Cashman should cut a side deal with the Padres for Syndergaard if they pull off the trade that would send Marlins catcher J.T. Realmuto to the Mets. That’s the only way I could see Thor pulling on the Pinstripes. They won’t get him directly from the Mets.
I really thought we’d see more free agent signing this past week. I guess Bryce Harper and Manny Machado are holding up the market. After the run on relief pitchers last year, the market for firemen has been lukewarm this year. My biggest fear is David Robertson signing with the Red Sox to pitch close to his Rhode Island home. The Sox have lost “Tyler Austin punching bag” Joe Kelly to the Los Angeles Dodgers and free agent closer Craig Kimbrel is not expected to return. Unfortunately, it increases the odds the Red Sox sign a former Yankee (Robertson, Zach Britton or Andrew Miller) for their pen. I hope not.
I think my favorites to sign are Robertson and Adam Ottavino although I would not be disappointed with D-Rob and Miller or Britton or some combination thereof.
We could see movement with Manny Machado before Christmas. He apparently has visits with up to six teams next week, including the Yankees, Chicago White Sox, and Philadelphia Phillies. The White Sox acquired Machado’s brother-in-law Yonder Alonso from the Cleveland Indians last night but I don’t think Manny would make a huge financial decision based on where his bro-in-law plays. I’ve been surprised about the number of Yankee fans who want no part of either Machado or Bryce Harper. It’s so rare to get young twenty-something superstars for only money. Yes, it’s a helluva lot of money, no doubt, but the best years are ahead for both players and they’ve already been great. Great but getting better is a combination I like. These are guys who will still be producing at the end of 8-10 year contracts.
It feels so underwhelming when we hear names like Freddy Galvis as potential infield options to bridge the gap to the return of Didi Gregorius late next summer. I certainly want no part of the risk associated with free agent shortstop Troy Tulowitzki who was recently let go by the Toronto Blue Jays with $38 million left on his contract. I know Tulo would come cheap for the team that picks him up but the guy can’t stay healthy. That’s not a bet I would want to make for a team with World Series aspirations. I think the San Jose, CA area native should go back to the Bay Area in an attempt to rekindle his career with either the San Francisco Giants or Oakland A’s.
The Yankees family has taken a hit over the last couple of days. Yesterday, we received word that George Steinbrenner’s widow, Joan, had passed away in her Tampa, FL home, surrounded by her family. Joan, 83, was Vice Chairperson of the Yankees, along with her two daughters. In a statement released by the Steinbrenner family, “Joan was a compassionate and caring matriarch who profound love for her family and those in the community always inspired us. Her elegance and grace touched everyone around her, and we know her spirit will live on through her legacy of good works. We are grateful to have had her in our lives, and she will be deeply missed.” May Mrs Boss rest in peace…
|Photo Credit: AP (Charlie Neibergall)|
I was also surprised and saddened to hear that Catfish Hunter’s daughter, Kim Hunter Daugherty, only 45, had passed away on Thursday at Hertford Grammar School in North Carolina where she was a teacher. She died of complications related to a pulmonary embolism. Her father died in 1999 at the age of 53 of Lou Gehrig’s disease. Very sad to see their lives cut so short.
I was hopeful the end of this week would have seen some resolution for the Yankees bullpen but it was not to be. Hopefully we’ll have some answers before Santa Claus invades our homes in ten days. I am still looking for that magical gift or gifts to make the Yankees better. Yes, they’re good now, but there’s so much potential for this team if it can continue to make the right decisions for additional pieces to fill out the roster. I will be happy when I can look at the roster and find the names of Sonny Gray, Luis Cessa and A.J. Cole nowhere to be found.
As always, Go Yankees…
Photo Credit: ESPN
Corbin’s Free Agent Tour continues with a stop in NYC…
Today’s the day. Patrick Corbin makes his much-anticipated visit in the Bronx to talk with the Yankees after tours through Philadelphia and Washington, D.C. While it is possible the Yankees extend an offer to Corbin, it’s more probable that he leaves Yankee Stadium with no decisions made.
This is where I love the mindset and structure of NFL free agency. When a top free agent you desire visits your city, you don’t let him leave without his signature on the dotted line. As a Minnesota Vikings fan, I couldn’t help but think back to when the Vikings signed free agent quarterback Kirk Cousins last off-season. It was a big deal when it was announced Cousins was in Minneapolis and he was spotted at a steakhouse that night with GM Rick Spielman, Head Coach Mike Zimmer and I believe star wide receiver Adam Thielen among others. By the next morning, it was reported that Cousins had agreed to a 3-year, $84 million deal. I loved the rapid-fire sequence of events to land a much needed player. I recognize that you, as a Giants or Jets fan, may not think it was a wise decision by the Vikings but personally I loved it. Later, it was reported that during the Super Bowl last January in Minneapolis, Cousins had been in town and he spent a considerable amount of time checking out the city. It is possible the player picked the city before the team picked him.
Which leads me back to Patrick Corbin. We’ve all heard how Corbin grew up near Syracuse, New York with a family dominated by Yankee fans. I didn’t grow up in New York, yet I’ve been a lifelong die-hard Yankee fan. I think much of my early admiration of the team was developed through a love of the history and tradition of the Yankees. As a kid, I loved reading books about Yankee greats like Lou Gehrig, Babe Ruth, Joe DiMaggio, and Mickey Mantle. Corbin has been exposed to these names and no doubt has a similar admiration for the team’s history. With no offense to Citizens Bank Park in Philadelphia or Nationals Park in D.C., there is nothing quite walking into the hallowed grounds of Yankee Stadium. Even though the majority of the Yankee legends played across the street where the old Yankee Stadium once stood, the omnipresent mystique and aura echoes through the halls of the new Yankee Stadium. The legends are alive in the new ballpark and you still feel it today. I can’t help but think Corbin is going to be seduced by the lure of pinstripes. It’s been mentioned Corbin’s camp wants to make a fairly quick decision so hopefully it means he’ll decide by the end of the week. My feeling is the Yankees should strike quickly since they hold the upper hand with other teams based on the player’s sentiments. Make a fair offer that is competitive with the Phillies and Nationals, and all things considered, the scale is tipped to the Yankees’ advantage.
Actor Michael J Fox told a story years ago in an interview. He had wanted to buy a new house in Los Angeles but wanted to play coy to ensure that he find a home at his price. When he walked into the home he liked, he threw down his keys and said something like, “I want this house!”. That’s how I am hoping Corbin plays it with the Yankees. He has a chance to join Baseball’s most storied franchise that possesses a team ready to contend for the World Series right now.
I’d give Corbin six years if that’s what it takes. It’s not my money. The fans who scream about the money and years kill me. It’s not their money either. I am sure the Yankees will make a good offer that they are comfortable with and one that fits what they are trying to accomplish this off-season. Face it, it is not really a question of whether they can afford it. We all know they can. Will it be good enough? Time will tell as it often does.
Ronald Torreyes was a fun guy to have around the Yankees dugout and clubhouse but the anger over his trade to the Chicago Cubs yesterday was a little ridiculous. Suzie Pinstripe, Managing Editor for Bleeding Yankee Blue, wrote a very nice piece about “Our Kindof Guys” or OKG’s. While I do not dismiss the value of Torreyes as ‘our kind of guy’ and the importance to team chemistry, I do not fault the Yankees for their decision. Mike Axisa of River Ave Blues is probably one of my favorites because he simply tells it like it is. This paragraph from a post Axisa did yesterday sums up exactly how I feel about the decision to move Torreyes: “The 26-year-old Torreyes is projected to make $900,000 through arbitration next season and the Yankees are loaded with utility infielder types (Hanser Alberto, Thairo Estrada, Tim Locastro, Tyler Wade), so the most expensive (and least tooled up) of the bunch got the heave-ho when a 40-man roster spot was needed. Sucks, but that’s the business.” Well said, Mike.
I wish Toe the very best in Chicago. Given the uncertainty with their starting shortstop, Addison Russell, his prospects for playing time at Wrigley Field are much greater than they would have been with the Yankees. Team chemistry is different every year. Familiar faces leave, new ones arrive. The synergy of new personalities meshing with the current players. After a couple of weeks next season, Torreyes will be nothing but a past memory and we’ll be relishing the interaction and play of the current roster.
I am a little tired of David Robertson taking so much heat for the team decision to exclude Assistant Hitting Coach P.J. Pilittere and a traveling member of the analytics team, Zac Fieroh, from postseason shares of playoff ticket sales. The player pool for the Yankees turned out to be $2.866 million. The value of one share was slightly more than $43,000. The team issued 45 full shares, plus 21.47 partial shares and a couple of cash awards, but both Pilittere and Fieroh were excluded. Bill Madden of the New York Daily News also reported the team did not award any shares to the entire support staff, trainers, clubhouse attendants and batting practice pitchers. Blame has single-handedly been placed on D-Rob as the leader who organized the vote. Regardless of whether he led the vote, Robertson had one vote. While it seems unfair that deserving guys were unfairly omitted, it was a team decision. Other players didn’t cast their votes based on what Robertson told them to do. They made their own decisions. So, if you’re going to blame Robertson, blame beloved Yankees like Aaron Judge, Gleyber Torres, and Luis Severino too. They were part of the vote. I am probably more pissed that Jacoby Ellsbury got a full share. I’ve seen so many Yankee fans say the team should not re-sign D-Rob because of the postseason shares which makes absolutely no sense to me. The Yankee should re-sign D-Rob, and I wish they’d hurry up and get it over with so that we can focus on the big ticket items.
Photo Credit: Getty Images (Jim McIsaac)
I said it before the latest hullabaloo about Robinson Cano but I’ll say it again: I want no part of his contract. Love the player but 5 years and $120 million for a 36-year-old does not look good today, let alone what it would look like in 2-3 years. Even if it was a way to unload Jacoby Ellsbury (someone I’ve wanted gone from this team for a long time), I wouldn’t do it. If the Mets want to take on Cano’s contract, even if Seattle is willing to send suitcases full of cash with him as well as their closer, Edwin Diaz, that’s fine. Let the Mets have him. Don’t get me wrong, I’d love to have Edwin Diaz on my team but not at that cost. Cano is on the fast track to becoming a full-time DH. Last time I checked, the Yankees had one of those and I’ve heard he does a fairly good job (well, outside of Yankee Twitter of course).
By the way, I haven’t had a chance to welcome Parker Bridwell to the Yankees yet. His stats do not amaze me despite a solid 2017 season but he has a great attitude and is excited about being a Yankee. I can’t find fault with those points. There’s always a chance the Yankees see something they can correct to make Bridwell a quality Major League pitcher, whether it is spot starting or long relief. At this point, I’d gladly prefer to give him a shot over guys like Luis Cessa and A.J. Cole. So, welcome to the Yankees family, Parker!
Photo Credit: USA TODAY Sports (Winslow Townson)
It’s Corbin Day. Very exciting for Yankee fans. Let’s see what this day has in store for us.
As always, Go Yankees!
|Photo Credit: Getty Images|
Yanks hang on for narrow win over O’s…
Maybe I am just a realist but I am struggling to find great positives with the 2018 New York Yankees and their ability to go deep into the playoffs. Time and again, manager Aaron Boone shows an inability to make the right bullpen decisions. Sure, I could have blind love and just take the approach that the team is going to plow through October opponents until proven otherwise, but that’s not me.
John O’Connell, @jacko2323 on Twitter, posted this comment last night:
Every Yankees postgame interview is “Look out for us! We’re about to break loose! Our offense will explode in the playoffs.” It’s September 21st. The Red Sox have already clinched the AL East and your struggling to beat the Orioles.
I agree with this statement. Jack-O went on to tweet:
The A’s are going to beat the Yankees like a drum in the Wildcard game and Boone and every Yankee will give a postgame interview talking about how close they are to breaking out.
Again, I agree. I know that Jack-O is a disillusioned Yankees fan. He is a friend of Bill Simmons, a noted Red Sox fan, and frequently appears on his podcasts, but I find truth in Jack-O’s words even if many Yankees fans take offense. Just because the Yankees made it to the seventh game of the ALCS last year and seemingly have a better team this year does not mean they are going to the World Series. Other teams got better too including the Boston Red Sox despite their leaky bullpen. The players have talked about how great this team will be when it gets on a roll but, after the early season run, we have yet to see it. And it is now September 22nd.
The Yankees should have easily beat the Baltimore Orioles last night. Unfortunately, they had to hold on for the 10-8 victory after more foolish bullpen decisions by Aaron Boone. I am not sure why A.J. Cole is still on the Yankees roster, other than the September roster expansion. When the Yankees need to make off-season roster decisions, making room for the guys on the 60-day DL and the Rule 5 eligible prospects worth keeping, Cole has to go. There’s no doubt Cole should be left off the playoff roster.
The Yankees have yet to show me they are cranking on all cylinders. Sure, there’s still time but the days are going by fast. The end of the regular season is a week from Sunday. It seems like every time the Yankees take two steps forward, they take a step back. Meanwhile, The Red Sox and Astros are cruising to the finish line. Honestly, the Yankees are lucky that the Tampa Bay Rays didn’t start heating up earlier in the season. The Yankees’ magic number to secure a Wild Card spot is only two games but right now the Rays are playing better than the Yankees. The upcoming series in Tampa will be difficult. The Rays probably will have no chance of catching the Yankees by then and might be out of it altogether, but I am sure those are going to be tough games. If the Rays do not make the playoffs, beating the Yankees in their final regular season series between the two teams will be their “playoff” even if the prize is only bragging rights for Rays players and fans.
I guess it could be worse. The Los Angeles Dodgers recaptured first place in the NL West with their sweep of the Colorado Rockies earlier this week only to lose last night to the 92-loss San Diego Padres. The Dodgers still hold a slim 1 1/2 game lead (same as the Yankees’ lead over the Oakland A’s for the top WC slot) so both teams need to win the majority of these final games. I guess the stakes may be higher for the Dodgers. If they lose the division, they most likely lose out on making the playoffs. Their record presently matches the St Louis Cardinals for the second WC in the National League behind the Milwaukee Brewers so they cannot afford to lose.
If the Yankees win the AL Wild Card game, it will be a new season. But until then, I will have my doubts about this team’s ability to rise to the challenge. I am tired of seeing poor decisions made every game. Could I do better than Boone? Hell no, but I don’t get paid to make the right decisions nor do I have the experience in the game like he does. Aaron Boone and Company are the ones depositing the Steinbrenner family’s money into their bank accounts. I like Aaron Boone but he has to do better. The 2018 season depends upon it.
The best thing the Yankees can do is make me eat my words. I am okay with that.
I’ve felt that Orioles manager Buck Showalter would be dismissed at the end of the season for a couple of months but the words I read yesterday seem to indicate it is nearly guaranteed he will be fired. For as much as I have disliked Buck at times during his post-Yankees career, I am feeling so saddened this may be the end of the line for the former Yankees manager. I can’t really explain why I feel that way. It’s unfortunate that Buck was unable to guide a team to a championship during his managerial career. Other managers benefited from his path in both New York and Arizona. In this day and age of young, amiable (press-friendly), inexperienced, and analytics-driven managers, it seems improbable that Buck will get another opportunity. It really does not seem that long ago that Buck was playing first base and the outfield for the Yankees’ then Double A farm team in Nashville. I can still remember a few of his games so vividly.
Whatever happens with Buck, I wish him the best as life moves forward. Now, if he wants to lose the next two games, that’s fine by me.
I know it’s a little early to make free agent predictions, but Bleacher Report ran a column on Thursday to take an early look at one realistic free agent for each team. The reason it bothered me is the writer (Jacob Shafer) has the Yankees signing Dallas Keuchel, with Patrick Corbin going to the Milwaukee Brewers. Ugh! I do not want Keuchel on the Yankees. I am hopeful the Yankees make an all-out attempt to bring Corbin to the Bronx. The writer also has the Boston Red Sox signing David Robertson which is also something I’d really hate to see. I love David Cone but there’s a part of me that is still bothered by the fact he wore a Red Sox uniform at the end of his career. Same with David Wells. I hope D-Rob does not go down that path. The writer predicts J.A. Happ will sign with the Arizona Diamondbacks as a replacement for Corbin. I think Happ has done enough to warrant a new contract in Pinstripes. Sorry CC, but for a few million more, Happ makes so much more sense for the 2019 Yankees. Sabathia is predicted by B/R to sign with the Oakland A’s. That’s a move I would not be opposed to since Sabathia grew up in nearby Vallejo, CA and he’d be able to exit the game in front of his hometown friends and family.
|Photo Credit: Getty Images (Mike Stobe)|
Speaking of Happ, the Yankees seem to be lining him up to pitch the Wild Card game on October 3rd. He’ll make the start against the O’s tomorrow. I had thought I wanted Masahiro Tanaka to pitch the Wild Card game but his start against the Red Sox eroded some of my confidence. Luis Severino is pitching better but I am still not convinced he is the man to face the bruising A’s lineup. Happ makes as much sense as any of them. In a do-or-die one game playoff, everybody needs to be ready to contribute. The only question is whether Aaron Boone will make the right bullpen choices. I guess we’ll find out on October 3rd.
Hopefully we’ll have a less stressful game and a Yankees win later today. The opposing pitcher is 3-10 with 5.22 ERA (David Hess). We should not lose this game. Hopefully, the gritty Lance Lynn (9-10, 4.90 ERA) ensures that it does not happen.
|Photo Credit: Getty Images (Patrick McDermott)|
Yanks Use Unlikely Heroes to Thwart the O’s…
When the lineup was posted prior to the game, Luke Voit’s name at first base was about as exciting as getting teeth pulled despite Greg Bird’s struggles with the bat. After the game was over, Voit had ensured he could be the beneficiary of more playing time at Bird’s expense. His two home runs were huge. The first tied the game in the early stages and the latter provided the necessary insurance for the win. The muscled kid from St Louis came up big for the Pinstripes with 4 RBI’s in the 7-5 win over the Baltimore Orioles.
Zach Britton picked up his first save for the Yankees, his fifth of the year. He was treated rudely by former teammate Chris Davis who blasted a solo home run in the bottom of the tenth, but thanks to Voit’s two-run shot after the Yankees had taken a one-run lead in the top of the tenth, Britton withstood the Davis home run trot to preserve the win. Things might have looked differently had Britton not gotten Trey Mancini, the batter before Davis, to hit into a double play. Whatever it takes, it was a win and the Yankees finally have a winning season record against the O’s at 7-6.
|Photo Credit: Associated Press|
The Orioles got on the board first. After the Yankees had threatened in the top of the first inning (but failed), the O’s grabbed the early lead with a two-run single by Chris Davis in the bottom of the inning off Yankees starter CC Sabathia. Davis entered the game batting .163 on the season but apparently Yankees pitching didn’t get the memo.
Orioles starter Alex Cobb, who has enjoyed a resurgent second half following a 2-12 record leading up to the All-Star Game, was tough on the Yankees lineup. After escaping the first inning scoring opportunity, he blanked the Yankees over the next two innings, allowing just a couple of meaningless walks. It looked like he was going to have his way in the top of the fourth inning when he struck out Miguel Andujar to start the frame. Neil Walker singled to center, but Gleyber Torres flied out to right for the second out. Up to the plate strolled Luke Voit who had hit into a double play in the second inning for his first at-bat. Voit crushed the Cobb offering over the wall in left center to tie the game at two. It looked weird to see Chasen Shreve’s #45 circling the bases.
CC Sabathia got the Yankees through six innings with the game knotted at two. The ball was turned over to David Robertson for the seventh but unfortunately he ran into a bit of bad luck. The first hitter, John Andreoli (a recent cast-off from the Seattle Mariners), reached base on a fielding error by interim shortstop Gleyber Torres (the ball rolled up his arm off his wrist and dropped into shallow left field). Torres was in pain but stayed in the game. D-Rob was able to retire the next two hitters but then Jonathan Villar, the former Milwaukee Brewer, took Robertson deep to left center, giving the O’s a 4-2 lead. I hate to say it, but I don’t really see the Yankees re-signing D-Rob, one of my favorite Yankees over the years, after the season.
The Yankees answered in the top of the eighth. With only one out, they loaded the bases against two Orioles relievers. The third O’s pitcher of the inning, Mychal Givens, came in to face Gleyber Torres and was greeted with a two-run single to right. The O’s had a play at the plate for the second runner, Miguel Andujar, on a strong throw by Adam Jones, but the ball came loose on the collision at home. Papa was safe and the game was tied again. The Yanks re-loaded the bases after Luke Voit had struck out for the second out, but Ronald Torreyes left the runners stranded with a pop out to first.
Dellin Betances, sporting yellow shoes, pitched the bottom of the eighth. He got into a little trouble with a couple of singles but was able to get out of the inning with a couple of swinging strikeouts.
The Yankees had a chance in the ninth when Brett Gardner opened the inning with a single, but after Giancarlo Stanton flied out, Aaron Hicks hit the ball directly into Chris Davis’ glove, standing on first base, for an inning-ending double play. Three up and three down for Chad Green in the bottom of the ninth, and it was off to extra innings we went.
With former Yankees prospect Cody Carroll pitching, Neil Walker homered to right center with one out to give the Yankees their first lead of the game. Neil, please accept my apology for any disparaging words I may have used about you earlier in the season. Gleyber Torres followed with a walk. He stole second and then advanced to third on a throwing error by the O’s catcher. Luke Voit, who obviously enjoyed the fourth inning home run, decided to re-live the experience with another two-run blast, this time to right center.
|Photo Credit: Associated Press (Patrick Semansky)|
The Yankees took the three-run lead into the bottom of the tenth, bringing in former Orioles closer Zach Britton to finish off his ex-teammates. Adam Jones singled to right to open the inning for the Orioles, but Trey Mancini, in the midst of a down year for him, grounded into a double play. So Chris Davis came to the plate with the bases empty and two outs. His homer to center, traveling 430 feet, cut the Yanks’ lead to two. Fortunately, Tim Beckham grounded out to first to end the game. It was a struggle but the Yankees persevered to pull out the victory. Britton walked off the Orioles mound with another save in his illustrious Camden Yards career, but the first in opposing gear.
The win, the Yankees’ 80th of the year, helped them to cut the gap to 8 1/2 games behind the AL East-leading Boston Red Sox. The Red Sox dropped a 10-3 game to the Tampa Bay Rays. The Yankees are just the second team in MLB to reach 80 wins, but of course the Red Sox became the first to 90 earlier this week. The Yankees hold a four-game lead on the Oakland A’s in the Wild Card standings and eight games over Adam Warren and the Seattle Mariners.
Nice job by CC Sabathia, fresh off the 10-day DL, to give the Yankees some length after the first inning difficulties. He mixed in a couple of eight-pitch innings. He may not have gotten the decision but he put his team in position for the win. As they say, wins are a worthless statistic to prove a pitcher’s worth. The Yankees would not have won this game without CC’s strong performance.
Gary Sanchez began a rehab assignment in Florida (Gulf Coast League) today so it sounds like we’ll be getting one of the wounded soldiers back soon. Sanchez will move up to Triple-A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre after today’s game before rejoins the team, hopefully next week. I really hope that El Gary brings some of the hustle I’ve seen with the rehab workout videos. We could really use the pre-2018 version of Sanchez for the regular season’s final month.
The Yankees and the Orioles play two today. RHP Luis Cessa has been called up as the 26th man for the day/night double-header. The first game, at 1:00 pm ET, features J.A. Happ (14-6, 3.84 ERA) against Jimmy Yacabonis (0-1, 6.75 ERA). Luke Voit hit his last Triple A homer, prior to his call-up, against Yacabonis. Sure enough, on the lineup just posted for today’s game, Voit is playing first base. The second game, 7:05 pm ET, will pit the beleaguered Sonny Gray (9-8, 5.34 ERA) against Andrew Cashner (4-11, 4.84 ERA). Despite his record, Cashner always seems to pitch well against the Yankees. If Gray wants to pitch any meaningful games for the Yankees down the stretch, he needs to show up tonight. No pressure. Somehow I suspect he’ll fail miserably to maintain his grip on the Sonny Gray Sucks! tag line. Sonny, dammit, prove me wrong.
Hopefully last night’s win provides some momentum for the Yankees against the pesky O’s. Why win just one game, when you can take two? Let’s do this. Go Yankees!
|Photo Credit: The Kansas City Star via AP (John Sleezer)|
Yanks Continue Struggles with Losing Teams…
The Yankees do know these are the Kansas City Royals, right? Maybe they’d fare better if they thought they were playing Manny Machado and the NL West-leading Los Angeles Dodgers.
It was an awful feeling when the Royals, on the fast track for 100 losses, throttled Luis Severino and later David Robertson en route to the 10-5 victory in the first game of Saturday’s day/night double-header. I am concerned, very concerned, about Severino. Despite the rotation pitching woes earlier this season, the one constant was strong performances by Severino who was pitching at Chris Sale-Corey Kluber level as he raced to fourteen wins. Yesterday, Sevy was gone before the end of the fifth inning, after coughing up eight hits and six runs. For his last four starts, Severino has given up 19 runs in 19 1/3 innings. His ERA, below 2.00 not long ago, is now a run higher. Not good. The Yankees need to get him with Pedro Martinez again soon. I jest on that part, but Sevy does need to figure this out. The sooner, the better.
|Photo Credit: NY Post (Paul J Bereswill)|
I thought the Yankees were going to climb back into the game after Sevy’s departure and a 6-0 deficit when they scored five runs to make it a one-run game but the bullpen was not up to the task. David Robertson continues to pitch like a guy playing his final two months in Pinstripes. The 2018 version of D-Rob has not been as trustworthy as the 2017 version and it is sad to see. He’s been one of my favorites but it seems inevitable that we’ll have a second parting of the ways in a few months. Is there such a thing as too much quality in the bullpen, leading to a lack of work and rusty performances? Hopefully the pen gels with the latest moves and provides us with a stretch run to remember.
I was fearful the Royals were going to sweep the day when they forged ahead of the Yankees in the nightcap while new reliever Zach Britton, hearing the boos so familiar when he pitched as a visitor, was on the mound in the seventh, but Greg Bird, Neil Walker and Aaron Hicks saved the day. Bird’s homer in the bottom of the eighth tied the game. Walker followed with a double to deep right center, and advanced to third on a bunt single by Austin Romine (loved the Twitter comments of “Yankees catcher sprints to first” which is not something we are accustomed to when Gary Sanchez is playing). Aaron Hicks flied out to left, but Walker tagged and scored the go-ahead run. I was hopeful the Yankees could pick up a few more runs in the situation, but Brett Gardner grounded out and Giancarlo Stanton went down swinging to strand two runners in scoring position.
From there, the game was placed into the hands of Aroldis Chapman who had the major meltdown in his last appearance before being saved by Chasen Shreve. It didn’t start well when the first batter, Adalberto Mondesi (I liked the name ‘Raul Mondesi, Jr’ better), led off the ninth with a single to center. Chappy got the next two batters but then he walked the potential go-ahead run. Mondesi stole third to put runners at the corners for the pesky Whit Merrifield. I can’t say I was feeling too good at that point, but Chapman struck him out on four pitches to end the game. Whew! A struggle to win one of two games from a team that has only won 32 games this season. We should be crushing these teams like the Red Sox do.
Boston hammered the Minnesota Twins, 10-4, so they were able to increase their lead in the AL East to five and a half games. Despite the struggles, the Yankees (66-37) can take three of four from the Royals with a win today. It is going to be very disheartening if they end up splitting the series with one of baseball’s worst teams.
Who am I going to complain about now? The Yankees traded LHP Chasen Shreve to the St Louis Cardinals last night so I no longer have a bullpen punching bag. After labeling Shreve as a DFA candidate for months, he wasn’t DFA’d and to my surprise, the Yankees packaged him with RHP Giovanny Gallegos to pick up a bag of donuts and some coin for the international market. Okay, first baseman Luke Voit is not a bag of donuts (is he?) but the guy is not exactly a prospect at 27. The Missouri native played 67 games at Triple A this year, and hit .299/.391/.500, .891 OPS, with 9 homers and 36 RBIs. He has drawn 31 walks. Voit has played in 8 games with eleven plate appearances at the Major League level this season. He is 2-for-11 with a homer and 3 RBIs.
|Photo Credit: Jeff Curry|
Voit will most likely head to Scranton/Wilkes-Barre but first base is not exactly a position of need compared to the outfield or catching for the Rail Riders. They have Tyler Austin, Mike Ford and Ryan McBroom. McBroom’s numbers at Triple A this season are nearly identical to Voit’s. In 73 games, McBroom, acquired a couple of seasons ago for Rob Refsnyder, is batting .297 with 9 homers and 32 RBIs. With the glut of first-base types, McBroom, was recently sent to Double A. It certainly wasn’t because of performance. Poor Mike Ford, who had a brief taste of the big leagues in his Rule 5 spring training with the Seattle Mariners, is never going to see the light of day at Yankee Stadium. Ford, batting .240, has 12 home runs and 36 ribbies in 67 games for the RailRiders.
For as much as I’ve wanted to see Shreve go, it was still a sad moment when it actually happened. He was a Yankee for four years and there were good times to go with the bad. Listening to his post-game interview was extremely difficult while Shreve expressed his love for his teammates. I wish the Las Vegas native the best as he moves to the Gateway to the West. The Cardinals have a strong history of tradition and success even if 2018 is not one of their better years. The Cardinals are only four games out of the NL Wild Card chase so Shreve does have an opportunity to help his new team reach October. For Gallegos, it means the end of the Scranton/Bronx Shuttle. Hopefully he’ll have a much better time sticking in the bigs with the Cardinals.
The trade opens a spot on the 25-man roster for today’s starter, J.A. Happ. Happ had been added as the 26th man prior to the start of the second game of yesterday’s double-header after his delayed arrival so the Yankees needed to clear room on the active roster for him. I had expected it to be outfielder Shane Robinson who homered in yesterday’s second game but he presumably lives to see another day in Pinstripes. His spot is the one that clearly needs to be upgraded before the trading deadline unless we can get some positive news about Clint Frazier soon.
Yesterday brought rumors the Yankees are one of the teams aggressively pursuing Tampa Bay’s Chris Archer, although the San Diego Padres continue to be seen as the favorites. A report at the end of the day indicated that the Rays had two scouts watching Justus Sheffield’s start for the RailRiders last evening. I like Archer but not well enough to trade the organization’s top prospect for him. There are only a few guys the Yankees should consider trading Sheffield for and Archer is not one of them. Blake Snell, maybe, but he’s currently on the DL.
The Yankees may be hurt by injuries, but the Houston Astros are having problems of their own. They already had star shortstop Carlos Correa on the disabled list and yesterday the 2017 AL MVP, Jose Altuve, hit the DL for the first time in his career. Altuve has lingering soreness in his right knee.
I was watching a little of the Los Angeles Angels game last night and it’s incredible what former Yankees prospect Francisco Arcia is doing for the Halos in his Major League debut. In two games and eight at-bats, the 28-year-old Arcia, a catcher, has two homers and ten RBIs. The Yankees could certainly use Arcia now but who would have known the career minor leaguer was capable of this type of performance. Okay, apparently former Yankees Assistant GM and now Angels GM Billy Eppler knew. It’s not sustainable but it is a great story. One of the Angels announcers made the comment that this is the time of year you need a player to come along and give the team a jolt. Yeah, we could use one of those guys about now.
I will be curious to see how J.A. Happ performs today. He has faced the Kansas City Royals once already this year. In Toronto’s 15-5 victory on April 18th, Happ pitched six innings, allowing five hits and four runs, to pick up the win for the Blue Jays. He walked a couple of batters and struck out eight. The way the Yankees offense is performing, he’ll need to do better than that today. Sure, the Yankees should score 15 runs on a team like KC but not the .500 club that we’ve been seeing in recent weeks. I am hopeful the excitement of a pennant race will reinvigorate Happ. After Sevy’s pitiful performance yesterday and CC Sabathia’s short outing, we could use a strong show from the rotation. We need a “jolt” and this team needs to get on a roll. Make Yankees Baseball fun again! Otherwise, the Red Sox will be waltzing to the finish line.
I’d like to see the Yankees add a bat before Tuesday’s trading deadline, but I am not expecting any earth-shattering moves. The cost of starting pitching seems too high, and I am not really interested in overpaying for another league-average starter. Maybe it is time to bring Justus Sheffield up to the Show to see what he can do out of the bullpen for the duration of the season. I am also looking forward to Jonathan Loaisiga’s return to good health.
Hopefully the Yankees simply take care of business today. We need a win. Please make it HAPPen.
Photo Credit: AP (Ron Schwane)
Yankees survive Tribe on odd play and stellar bullpen…
If it takes a little league homer to beat the Cleveland Indians, so be it. A day after a Yankees rally fell short by one run against the Tribe, I had no issue with the deciding run in yesterday’s tilt being decided on Austin Romine’s lead-off double in the seventh inning that resulted in a run thanks to a couple of errors. Romine’s hit to the gap in the right center was bobbled by Brandon Guyer for the first error as Romine slid safely into third. The relay throw ended up bouncing past Jose Ramirez at third and Mike Clevinger back up the play into the dugout and the umpiring crew awarded Romine home plate for the go-ahead and eventual winning run.
|Photo Credit: Getty Images (David Maxwell)|
For two teams with great hitters and defenders, it was an odd way for a game to be decided. The win allowed the Yankees to go up two games to one in the current series, putting them in position to take the series today before most of the players head for their homes and families for a few days of rest and relaxation.
It wasn’t the greatest outing for CC Sabathia, giving up four runs on four hits over 5 2/3 innings against his original team but credit him for keeping it close. Didi Gregorius had staked CC to an early lead with his three-run homer in the first inning. It was Didi’s 17th home run of the year.
The Indians chipped away at the Yankees’ lead, tying the game at four in the bottom of the sixth when Brandon Guyer, who entered the game with a .162 batting average, hit a two-out infield single to third to score runners at second and third. Miguel Andujar’s wide throw pulled Greg Bird off the bag at first to allow Guyer to reach base safely and Bird’s subsequent throw home glanced off the glove of Austin Romine, allowing the second and tying run to score. The hit chased Sabathia, but David Robertson came in to restore order. He walked the first batter he faced but then struck out Yan Gomes to end the inning.
D-Rob pitched a clean seventh inning and Dellin Betances did the same in the eighth.
The ninth inning was filled with a bit of drama. It started when Brandon Guyer led off the bottom of the inning with a pop up in foul territory. Austin Romine went back for the ball and Miguel Andujar came charging in and neither player came up with the ball, with an error charged on Andujar. It looked like it should have been Romine’s ball but the ball drifted toward Andjuar who couldn’t get out of the way.
|Photo Credit: NJ Advance Media for NJ.com|
It didn’t matter when Guyer grounded out to short, but then Aroldis Chapman walked Cleveland’s top prospect Francisco Mejia, who represented the tying run. Mejia had just been recalled earlier in the day to make his 2018 MLB season debut. After striking out Yan Gomes, it set up a rematch of the 2016 World Series with Chapman facing Rajai Davis. As the announcing crew reminded us again and again, Davis had homered off Chapman to tie that game, the seventh and deciding game, although the Chicago Cubs eventually won it and the series with Chappy picking up the win. There would be no Davis home run this time around. His fly out to right field ended the game, giving the save to Chapman, his 26th of the season, and the win to David Robertson (7-3). With seven wins, D-Rob has as many wins as Masahiro Tanaka and more than any other Yankees pitcher not named Luis Severino.
Greg Bird continued his recent hot hitting with a sixth inning solo blast off Indians starter Mike Clevinger that had briefly given the Yankees and Sabathia a two-run cushion. It was Bird’s eighth home run of the year.
The game also featured the ejection of Manager Aaron Boone who showed some fire in the top of the sixth inning. After Giancarlo took a called third strike on a ball that hit his hands as he swung, Boone argued that the ball should have been ruled foul but to no avail. The umps were right but it was fun to see Boone fired up. It was Boonie’s second ejection of the season.
|Photo Credit: AP (Ron Schwane)|
There was some good defensive play by second baseman Tyler Wade in the game (can we DFA Neil Walker already?) although he was unable to make a difficult play in the bottom of the sixth that led to the first baserunner who would eventually score on Brandon Guyer’s two-run single.
The Yankees (62-32) remained 3 1/2 games behind the Boston Red Sox in the AL East. The Toronto Blue Jays took the Red Sox into extra innings before losing the game in the 10th on a walk-off grand slam home run by Xander Bogaerts.
With the Manny Machado rumors subsiding, it appears most likely that he’ll be traded to a National League team which, all things considered, is probably for the best. The rumors involving the Philadelphia Phillies seem the most fervent at the moment, but the Los Angeles Dodgers and Milwaukee Brewers remain in the chase. It does seem odd to me that some teams would be willing to part with top prospects for a player they may have no chance to re-sign in the off-season. But then again, if you think you have a chance for the World Series, it might be worth it if you feel that Machado is the difference-maker. I am sure the Dodgers would hate to see Machado end up in Philly. My biggest fear is Machado being traded to the Red Sox so I am anxious for the O’s to send their star shortstop to the NL as soon as possible. Given how much Orioles owner Peter Angelos hates the Yankees, I could see him sending Machado to Boston just to spite the Yankees even if the return for their team was less.
We may soon see Joe Girardi back in a dugout. The St Louis Cardinals surprisingly fired their manager, Mike Matheny, yesterday. Matheny was expected to be dismissed in the off-season but apparently the Cardinals organization became impatient (an uncharacteristic trait for them) as Matheny seemingly lost control of his clubhouse. Joe Girardi has emerged as a favorite to replace Matheny. The Cardinals are currently 47-46 and 7 1/2 games behind the Chicago Cubs in the NL Central and six games behind the second-place Milwaukee Brewers. they are just four games out in the Wild Card hunt. The last time the Cardinals fired a manager during the season was Joe Torre in 1995. I’ve seen the names of Jose Oquendo, Carlos Beltran, and even Jason Giambi mentioned, but Girardi would seem to make the most sense for a team trying to rebound from first half turbulence. Mike Shildt, the Cardinals bench coach, has been named interim manager. Girardi has some connection to the team as he finished his playing career in 2003 with the Cards.
While I realize the sexy names like Jacob deGrom, Noah Syndergaard, Madison Bumgarner, and Blake Snell are beyond reach for the Yankees, the most likely names that are available just plain scare me (not in a good way). Michael Fulmer, a name that has been connected to the Yankees for months, has been awful this year. I’ve tried to rationalize his performance by the fact that he plays for a bad team, but he was hit hard by the Houston Astros yesterday. He failed to complete five innings, giving up ten hits and seven runs, as his season record fell to 3-9. There’s no way that I’d want to see the Yankees give up Clint Frazier and/or other top prospects for Fulmer despite his youth, potential and cost-controlled status. Cole Hamels and J.A. Happ have been awful. TGP’s Daniel Burch cites Zack Wheeler as a possibility but that one doesn’t excite me. Tyler Skaggs and Andrew Heaney of the Los Angeles Angels are the most recent names mentioned. There is a very real possibility that the Yankees are unable to find a match for a top starter or two. Other teams are willing to overpay but the Yankees are not. I have mixed feelings. On one hand, I want to see Frazier, Justus Sheffield and Estevan Florial thrive as Yankees, but on the other hand, something needs to give if the Yankees intend to catch the Red Sox in the second half. Boston shows no signs of slowing down anytime soon.
Hopefully the Yankees can win today to send us into the All-Star Break on a positive note. Masahiro Tanaka (7-2, 4.68 ERA) makes the start against Trevor Bauer (8-6, 2.23 ERA). It should be a good game and a great day for a victory.
A day after a lop-sided loss to the Boston Red Sox, the Yankees got revenge with a similar 11-1 beating of the Sox. I really wanted an identical 11-0 beating to match the Red Sox winning score on Saturday but Aroldis Chapman lost the shutout in the ninth. Oh well, all is good with the ten-run victory and a woefully quiet Red Sox Nation.
It was disheartening to watch the Yankees fall behind behind by six runs in the first two innings during Saturday’s loss so I am sure the Red Sox fans felt the same way yesterday. I had felt so much more confidence with Luis Severino pitching for the Yankees and perennial Yankees punching bag David Price going for Boston. Six home runs from the home team, including three from the other Aaron (Hicks), certainly did not hurt. On an evening when so many balls were leaving the yard, it was odd that Giancarlo Stanton didn’t join the party. But he had a couple of hits and scored a run so not all was lost.
First, Severino. Sevy has been one of the best pitchers in the American League this year and after this game, he might be the best. He’s 13-2 with 1.98 ERA, both marks are the best in the league. Justin Verlander had been the ERA leader for most of the season but he currently stands at 2.12. If Sevy is not named the starter for this year’s All-Star Game, it will be a travesty by Houston Astros manager A.J. Hinch. For this game, Severino shut out the Red Sox for 6 2/3 innings, yielding only two hits and three walks. He struck out six to increase his season total to 138. I might have been a little worried going into the game that Sevy might not have his best stuff coming off his masterful performance against the Philadelphia Phillies last week, but Sevy showed why he is the ace of the staff. I am very happy Luis Severino is a Yankee.
As for the other guys, Aaron Judge got the homer party started early with a one-out homer over the center field wall into Monument Park. After a single by Giancarlo Stanton and a double from Didi Gregorius, Gleyber Torres continued his magical season with a blast to right to give the Yankees a 4-0 lead. David Price could only look up at the scorecard and think “there goes my ERA”. Gleyber’s smile in the Yankees dugout after the homer was, you could say, priceless.
In the bottom of the second, the speedy Brett Gardner reached on an infield single to second when a bobble and momentum took Brock Holt away from getting the ball to first in time. The eldest Yankees position player didn’t have to stand on first base very long. Aaron Hicks took David Price deep to right for the first of his three home runs on the night.
|Photo Credit: NY Post (Charles Wenzelberg)|
The Red Sox had something going in the top of the third inning and could have climbed back into the game. Mookie Betts worked a two-out walk and advanced to third on a single to left center by Andrew Benintendi, the first hit off Severino. It brought J.D. Martinez to the plate and the Red Sox Nation was probably thinking it would soon be a three-run game. Martinez worked the count full and seemed to be in position for a big hit but a swinging strikeout ended the threat. A very nice job by Sevy in that spot. No doubt it would have been a three-run homer if Sonny Gray had been on the mound.
The moment Kyle Higashioka had been waiting for happened in the fourth inning. Higgy had struck out in the second inning to extend his Major League hitless streak to 0-for-22. But leading off the bottom of the fourth, Higgy made his first Major League hit a big one with a home run into the second deck in left field. Congrats, Higgy! I hope it is the first of many.
An out later, Aaron Hicks had his second homer of the night, a shot to center. 8-0 Yankees, but they weren’t done. The Hicks homer ended David Price’s night and Aaron Judge greeted Red Sox reliever and fellow Fresno State alum Justin Haley with a single to left. Giancarlo Stanton followed with a double to left center, advancing Judge to third. Didi Gregorius lofted a fly to left which was deep enough to score Judge with the third run of the inning.
Manager Aaron Boone lifted Severino with two outs in the seventh inning after throwing 99 pitches and brought in David Robertson to record the final out, a fly out by Christian Vasquez.
With such a huge lead, I didn’t really expect to see Robertson, Dellin Betances and later Aroldis Chapman in the game. After D-Rob struck out the first two batters of the eighth inning, Betances came in to get the final out via a groundout to first by Andrew Benintendi.
With Hector Velasquez pitching for the Sox in the bottom of the eighth, Aaron Hicks blasted his third home run of the night with a shot to right from the left-side. The switch-hitting Hicks had recorded the first two homers from the right side. Hicks is only the third Yankee to hit three home runs in a game against Boston, joining Lou Gehrig and Mark Teixeira. Aaron Judge followed with a walk and took second on a single by Brandon Drury, pinch-hitting for Giancarlo Stanton. Neil Walker, who had entered the game at second in the seventh inning with Gleyber Torres sliding to short in place of Didi Gregorius, lifted a ball over the head of Red Sox third baseman Rafael Devers into left to score Judge.
Dellin Betances got the first out of the ninth inning (strikeout of J.D. Martinez) but Boone made the curious decision at that point to bring in Aroldis Chapman. Sandy Leon, pinch-hitting for Mitch Moreland, doubled into the left-field corner. Blake Swihart reached first on an infield single that advanced Leon to third. Rafael Devers hit a grounder to third and while the Yankees forced Swihart at second, Leon ruined the shutout when he scored on the play. Brock Holt hit a grounder to Gleyber Torres who, after looking toward first, tapped second base with his glove ahead of Devers for the final out. The Yankees win!
The Yankees (54-27) put themselves back into a first place tie with the Red Sox (56-29) in the AL East and technically lead by percentage points (.667 to .659). My goal going into this series was to take two of three so I was very satisfied with the results. A sweep would have been great but as Brendan Kuty of NJ Advance Media for NJ.com often says, Sonny was not grayt. Between Gray and David Price, the two Vanderbilt guys gave up fourteen runs in 5 2/3 innings. Not a great couple of days for former Commodores.
The last Yankee to hit three home runs in a game was a then-39 year old Alex Rodriguez who smacked three against the Minnesota Twins on July 25, 2015. A-Rod’s last homer of the game sailed over the head of Twins center fielder, you guessed it, Aaron Hicks. Hicks also had a homer in that game, a two-run shot off CC Sabathia. But the Yankees prevailed, 8-5.
Poor Aaron Hicks. If Yankees Twitter had their way, Hicksie would have been DFA’d long ago. I have not felt the desire to bash Hicks (I’ll stick with Sonny Gray, Chasen Shreve and Neil Walker). I’d gladly take Hicks over DL-King Jacoby Ellsbury whom, honestly, I hope never wears the Pinstripes again regardless of the cost. If Estevan Florial was knocking at the door or if Clint Frazier was a legitimate option for center, I’d feel differently but for now, I’m fine with Hicks in the outfield even if he hadn’t hit three dingers last night.
The Yankees now host the NL East leading Atlanta Braves (48-34) for a three-game set at Yankee Stadium starting this evening. Jonathan Loaisiga (2-0, 1.93 ERA) gets the start. He’ll face former Detroit Tiger Anibal Sanchez who has pitched well for the Braves this year (3-2, 2.68 ERA) after being released by the Minnesota Twins during training camp.
It’s July which means it will be a big month for new Yankees. The 2018-19 International Signing Period opens today meaning some very talented international youths will soon begin their journeys for Major League dreams with Baseball’s most storied franchise. The non-waiver Trading Deadline is July 31st so the rumor mill, which was already cranked up, will be hitting on all cylinders for the next few weeks. Who will be the next players to pull on the famed Pinstripes? We will find out by month-end. Good times.