Prize Fight between Betances and Levine called off…
The Yankees avoided an off-the-field fight yesterday when they signed all of their arbitration-eligible players to one-year, non-guaranteed contracts, including Dellin Betances who lost his fight at the arbitration table last year. It sparked angry (and, in my opinion, unnecessary and ridiculous) words from Yankees Team President Randy Levine. This year, Betances gets the $5 million he sought a year ago when Levine said that “five million dollars goes to elite closers, people who pitch the ninth inning and have a lot, a lot and a lot of saves.” Personally, I think Betances will rediscover the magic and will resume his role as one of the elite setup artists in baseball. He is worth the money, regardless of what Levine may think.
|Photo Credit: Anthony J Causi, New York Post|
I was glad to see the Yankees stayed a couple of dollars shy of the $29.4 million total projected by MLB Trade Rumors. Not that MLB Trade Rumors is the foremost authority, but they were fairly accurate in their projections.
Here are the actual one-year settlements for the arbitration-eligible players:
Didi Gregorius, $8.25 million
Sonny Gray, $6.5 million
Dellin Betances, $5.1 million
Adam Warren, $3.315 million
Aaron Hicks, $2.825 million
Tommy Kahnle, $1.3125 million
Austin Romine, $1.1 million
Chasen Shreve, $825,000
Total: $29.2275 million
Gregorius accepting $750,000 less than his projected amount of $9 million was the difference-maker in bringing the total for all players under $29.4 million. Gregorius has one more year of arbitration before he hits free agency. I really hope the Yankees look to lock him up on a new long-term deal next off-season rather than wait for him to hit the free market. Same with Sonny Gray.
Yu had me at…
Following the Yankees’ ‘did they or didn’t they’ make an offer to free agent pitcher Yu Darvish is funny. Earlier in the week, Michael Kay reported on his show the Yankees had offered Darvish a 7-year contract for $160 million. On Twitter, Darvish responded “They don’t give me offer yet”. Darvish subsequently clarified his position with “Sorry guys. My mistake. Actually they did make offer the numbers are not correct.”
|Photo Credit: Getty Images|
Nothing against Darvish, I like the pitcher, but I wouldn’t want to devote in excess of $20 million per year to the pitcher even if the Yankees could somehow find a way to move Jacoby Ellsbury and his heavy contract or trade someone like Brett Gardner or David Robertson. Yesterday, Dodgers Nation posed a question to their fan base if they wanted the Dodgers to re-sign Darvish. The immediate reaction was negative, with many lingering feelings of disappointment and resentment over the awful World Series performance given by Darvish. Not that I feel a couple of poor (very poor) starts should define Darvish, but the October Stage is not made for everyone. It was a red flag that Darvish might not be a guy who can elevate his game when the stakes are at their highest. If money was no object, then I’d gladly be willing to accept Darvish on the team. But in the grand scheme of things for a team trying to stay under $197 million, the money is better served in other areas.
Please Keep Numbers 29 and 77 Ready…
We are now only a month away before pitchers and catchers report to training camp in Tampa, Florida. With so many free agents still available, it would seem that we’ll be playing exhibition games before some big names know what jerseys they’ll be pulling on. I continue to preach for the Yankees to re-sign Todd Frazier to a two-year deal to take third base and provide backup support at first for Greg Bird. Of course, I’d also trade Brett Gardner despite his leadership qualities and status as the most tenured Yankee to open up a significant role for Clint Frazier. So, my views are obviously ‘Up goes Frazier(s)’.
|Photo Credit: Brad Penner, USA TODAY Sports, via Reuters|
I thought we’d see more baseball activity last week than we did. Admittedly, it seems like I feel that way every week yet we continue to hear crickets. Yes, the Mets re-signed Jay Bruce but the off-season continues to move along very slowly. I don’t believe owners are guilty of collusion. I think this year has been a wakeup for owners who do not want to give extended contracts to guys and end up with ‘Jacoby Ellsbury-like’ situations on your hands. Plus, you have the added factor that MLB’s two biggest spenders are furiously trying to keep payroll under $197 million. I am hopeful the current sluggish market conditions bring quality third base help to the Yankees.
R.I.P. to a Legendary Sportcaster…
I am very sad to hear the news of the passing of retired sportscaster Keith Jackson. Growing up in the 70’s, he was the premier voice of College Football and so many other top sporting events to me. His style and grace were legendary qualities. So many times in my life I’ve said “Whoa, Nellie!”, thanks to Jackson. He passed away Friday night in the Los Angeles area, where he made his home. Farewell, Keith. May you rest in peace. Heaven has gained a tremendous Angel and we will miss you.
|Photo Credit: LA Times|
Have a great long weekend, Yankees family! Go Yankees!
To Trade or Not To Trade…
Just when you thought that things couldn’t get any crazier with the Gerrit Cole trade rumors, they took another wild curve today when it was reported that the Houston Astros had acquired Cole from the Pittsburgh Pirates. Some sports reporters were saying the trade was imminent and MLB Trade Rumors posted their usual ‘to acquire’ headline with Houston Astros to acquire Gerrit Cole. But minutes later, the news of false reports circulated and it was announced that a trade was not imminent and the teams were not close. Huh, what?…
So, as I type this post, Cole is still a member of the Pittsburgh Pirates. I think.
My position remains that the Yankees should not trade for Cole. When the rumors of the potential Astros trade began swirling, there were reports that the Yankees had shut down any further discussions with the Pirates. I like Cole and I think the Yankees, through coaching and environment, could bring out the best in the talented pitcher. But at this point, I do not feel that he is worth the cost of Clint Frazier, Miguel Andujar and a top pitching prospect. However, I do not want to see Cole go to Houston. The strong only get stronger. Cole on that pitching staff would be scary. Dallas Keuchel, Justin Verlander, Cole, Lance McCullers, Jr and Charlie Morton (with Brad Peacock and Colin McHugh on standby). The Astros pitching staff would certainly be more formidable than the Boston Red Sox and Toronto Blue Jays, other teams that have very strong staffs.
I think the Yankees should reserve any decisions for pitching additions until the July trading deadline. They’ll be looking at pro-rated salaries (helpful to meet the goal to stay under $197 million) and will have a much better idea of needs. For me, it’s sign Todd Frazier to a two-year deal and let’s see everyone next month in Tampa.
I’d love to add Yu Darvish or Alex Cobb but those two are not considerations as long as #22 is occupied. The Yankees could gain so much flexibility with payroll if they could move Jacoby Ellsbury, even if it includes paying as much as $15 million per year on what’s left. But it’s tough when Ellsbury seems content to collect his paycheck as the team’s fifth outfielder and no desire to relinquish his right to veto any trade.
The Yankees obviously have a very strong bullpen. I like some of the younger names with potential like Cody Carroll, Ben Heller and Jonathan Holder. This could open some flexibility to trade a more established name later in the season. Someone like David Robertson, whom I would hate to see go, if the Yankees feel they are not going to re-sign him after the season or Dellin Betances who most certainly will be traded at some point if/when he re-establishes his value. Sellers will be more desperate at the trading deadline and the Yankees will have greater strength with potential trade bait.
I think the official position of this website is ‘Get Chris Archer Now!’…
Photo Credit: Chris O’Meara-AP
I am not quite on the ‘Chris Archer or Bust’ train but if I see any indication that the Tampa Bay Rays might be willing to trade him, I wouldn’t be opposed to jumping on the bandwagon. I personally love Marcus Stroman, a native New Yorker, who would fit seamlessly into the Bronx. But admittedly, the chances the Toronto Blue Jays would trade a star pitcher to the Yankees are more remote than even the Rays.
Unless the Yankees can clearly upgrade their starting five, it’s better to stand pat and make air reservations for Tampa.
See ya, Cito…
It’s tough to see former top prospects leave the organization. Granted, when they leave on their own, they were unable to make their mark. Such is the case for former top draft pick Cito Culver. The shortstop was drafted in the first round (32nd pick) of the 2010 MLB Draft. Unfortunately, the bloom faded and Culver could never hit for average. He did manage 12 home runs last year in Triple A but carried a .223 batting average. The organization obviously has many better second base/shortstop types so Culver was never going to realize his dream in Pinstripes. Instead, he has signed a free agent contract with the Miami Marlins who seem to be collecting Yankees prospects. It’s a minor league deal that does not carry an invitation to MLB spring training. I wish Culver the best and hopefully he can insert his name into the picture of the rebuild currently underway on Team Jeter.
Two other former Pinstriped first-round draft picks signed elsewhere in recent weeks. Dante Bichette, Jr (2011) signed with the Colorado Rockies organization and Slade Heathcott (2009), who spent last year in the San Francisco Giants organization, signed with the Oakland A’s. It is kind of sad when you look back over the past decade of Yankees first-round picks and only Clarke Schmidt (2017), Kyle Holder ( 2015), and Aaron Judge (2013) are still part of the Yankees family. Granted, guys like James Kaprielian and Blake Rutherford were parts of major trades last summer but it does show the ratio of first round draft position to MLB team success (with the original team) is very small.
Angel in the Infield…
While you can argue that the big offseason winners so far are the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim (signing of Shohei Otani and infield rebuild with acquisitions of Ian Kinsler and Zack Cozart) or the New York Yankees (the trade for the NL MVP), the biggest winners, to me, are the international prospects freed from the Atlanta Braves organization after being penalized by MLB. They retained their bonuses from the Braves but then were free to sign with new teams and new bonuses. Considering a few of these guys (or more) will eventually wash out, the lyrics of “money for nothing and chicks for free” from that old Dire Straits song echo through my head. Notwithstanding the risk, the Yankees finally signed one of the former Braves prospects when they inked SS Angel Rojas for $350,000. Rojas had received $300,000 from the Braves during the 2017-18 signing period. Welcome to the Yankees family, Angel!
Yanks on Fire…
MLB.com recently posted this pic. If this doesn’t get you fired up for the return of baseball next month, nothing will…
Manny Reasons to make a trade…
I haven’t given a lot of thought to the talent the Yankees might consider offering for Baltimore Orioles third baseman Manny Machado (primarily because I don’t think the O’s will trade him to the Yankees for obvious reasons). But to acquire Machado now rather than wait until after the season to try and sign him through free agency, would you offer a package of Dellin Betances, Chance Adams, Thairo Estrada and Miguel Andujar? I don’t know but it’s one that I would have to think about. I gotta admit that Machado looks pretty good in Pinstripes…
Thank you to the New York Yankees for extending the protective netting at Yankee Stadium. The team issued the follow release on Wednesday:
Expanded Netting to be installed at Yankee Stadium for 2018 Season
The New York Yankees today (Wednesday, January 10th) announced details regarding the additional protective netting that will be installed at Yankee Stadium for the start of the 2018 regular season. Increased coverage will include partially retractable netting attached to the roofs of both dugouts and stationary netting extending beyond the far ends of the dugouts toward the foul poles.
During the design and engineering process, the Yankees consulted with the architecture firm Populous along with netting company Promats Athletics.
Netting attached to the roofs of both dugouts will extend to a height of nine feet above each dugout during games. The bottom portions of these nets will be upwardly retractable by up to three feet, allowing fans the opportunity to fully interact with players during batting practice when the protective batting cage is being employed around the home plate area of the field. Prior to the start of the game, the nets will connect to the dugout roof, where they will remain in place throughout the game.
Beyond the dugout, netting will extend to Section 011 on the first-base side and Section 029 on the third-base side. The netting in these locations will rise to eight feet above the playing field (approximately 5.5 feet above the wall surrounding the field of play), and will remain in place from the start of batting practice through the end of the game. These sections of netting may be removed for soccer matches or other events held at Yankee Stadium.
Dyneema fiber Ultra Cross 1.2 mm-wide knotless netting — the same as was used for Yankee Stadium backstop netting in 2017 — will be utilized for all netting in the 2018 season. Additionally, all netting will be “field green” in color to minimize its visible impact for those in attendance and viewers watching on television.
Installation will begin in February, and will be completed in time for the Yankees’ scheduled 2018 home opener on Monday, April 2 vs. the Tampa Bay Rays.
In addition, a similar protective netting system at George M. Steinbrenner Field is being installed and will be operational for the start of Yankees spring training (Tuesday, February 13).
The fan experience at the Stadium is important but the safety of the fans is the greatest concern. This is an excellent move by the Yankees.
Sooner or later, this off-season has to get busy, right? Waiting…
Please do not D-ROB Peter to pay Paul…
More and more people are clamoring for David Robertson to be traded to free up salary room to make a big splash to reel in Yu Darvish or Mike Moustakas (on top of the huge acquisition to add slugger Giancarlo Stanton). For the record, I am not in favor of trading D-Rob.
I get it. Robertson will cost $11.5 million for luxury tax purposes but the guy is such a huge part of the Yankees bullpen. I was so glad when the Yankees reacquired Robertson last summer. I haven’t felt that type of excitement since Andy Pettitte came back from three years in Houston. One of my favorite Yankees coming home. D-Rob carries the Andrew Miller attitude…whatever it takes. Both men value the team ahead of the individual and are willing to pitch whenever, wherever. I trust Robertson more than any other member of the bullpen to close on the days that Aroldis Chapman is not available.
Dellin Betances can be the most devastating reliever in the game, but as we’ve seen, his 6’8” frame can also get out of whack, making him very hittable. The last couple of years, he has faded down the stretch. D-Rob may not always win, but he’s a strong competitor every time he takes the mound.
I am bummed that we are in the last year of D-Rob’s contract. I am hopeful the Yankees either re-sign Robertson after the season or make a huge play to bring back Andrew Miller, who will also be a free agent after the 2018 season.
But for the 2018 season, I cannot imagine the Yankees bullpen without David Robertson.
To me, it makes more sense to trade Brett Gardner. But every pro-trade Robertson article I’ve read, talks about how invaluable Gardy is to the clubhouse. I understand those intangibles, but time and again, the Yankees have had to replace strong clubhouse leaders. Team leadership did not dry up when Derek Jeter walked out of the Stadium for the final time. If Gardy leaves, another guy (or guys) will step up to fill the void. From purely a player aspect, D-Rob is more valuable to the bullpen than Gardy is to the outfield given the plethora of other younger outfield options.
The enigma on the current roster construction is Jacoby Ellsbury and his suffocating contract. The New York Post speculates that the Yankees might have to include as much as $50 million on the contract to move Ellsbury once the current market depletes itself of better outfield options. It’s not like Ellsbury suddenly became Pablo Sandoval. He is still a good player, but he doesn’t fit on the 2018 Yankees. Hopefully GM Brian Cashman will astound us all by finding a way to move Ellsbury’s contract sooner rather than later.
This situation bears watching over the next few weeks but hopefully when the team takes the field for the 2018 season, #30 is on the Yankees roster.
|Photo Credit: MLB.com|
A familiar Foe…
The Toronto Blue Jays grabbed a potential infield option for the Yankees yesterday when they acquired former Yankee Yangervis Solarte from the San Diego Padres. Solarte lost his job at third base when the Padres reacquired Chase Headley. With an ability to play both second and third, Solarte would have been a good option for the Yankees to back the Gleyber Torres/Miguel Andujar youth movement.
|Photo Credit: Lenny Ignelzi-AP|
Mayans MC, Opening Soon at a TV near you…
In a bit of non-baseball news, I have to plug an upcoming TV series. FX announced this past week that they’ve given a 10-episode series order for Mayans MC. Mayans MC, a spin-off of the highly successful Sons of Anarchy, is “set in a post-Jax Teller world, where EZ Reyes (JD Pardo), fresh out of prison, is a prospect in the Mayan MC charter on the Cali/Mexi border. Now EZ must carve out his new outlaw identity in a town where he once was the golden boy who had the American Dream within his grasp.” The new series, which is set to premiere either this summer or late fall, is co-created by Kurt Sutter and Elgin James. The show will feature an almost all-Latino cast. Sons of Anarchy star Emilio Rivera (reprising the role of Mayans MC President Marcus Alvarez) headlines the strong cast that also features Pardo and Edward James Olmos.
I am very excited about the potential of the new TV series, and look forward to Sutter’s latest vision. Also, hats off to Glendale Harley-Davidson of Glendale, CA. They have been instrumental in helping the cast members of the new show. I bought my own Harley at Glendale H-D a few years ago and I very proud of this dealership.
Steinbrenner Field, Opening Sooner…
In theory, the upcoming week should bring more baseball news to the table. The holidays are over, and training camps open in a little more than a month. I expect to see in increase in free agents signings which should loosen up the trade market. It’s been 20 years since the Yankees won 125 games enroute to the 1998 World Series championship. I am not saying that the 2018 team will be as great, but this team has the potential to be something special if Brian Cashman continues to make the right moves. It’s time to bring the championship back to the Bronx!
And Then There Was One…
Although no official announcement has been made, the Yankees have an agreement in place with Aaron Boone to serve as the successor for former Yankees Manager Joe Girardi.
I am surprised. Since he retired, Boone has served as a broadcaster with ESPN. He has not managed or coached at any level. I have not heard a single complaint about Boone’s personality or baseball knowledge, but like Michael Kay said, it’s handing the keys of a Lamborghini to someone who just got their driver’s license. The Yankees job is the best in Baseball. The Yankees are the most storied, most prestigious team in the most powerful city in America. Expectations entering the 2017 season were fairly low, but the team finished the season a single game away from the World Series. Needless to say, expectations will be substantially higher as we enter the 2018 season. No pressure, Boonie!
I do not dislike the choice of Boone and had previously said I’d be okay with him as manager if Hensley Meulens was not selected. But Boone does need a very strong supporting cast (i.e., coaching staff). We know that pitching coach Larry Rothschild will be returning and he is perhaps one of the greatest components of the coaching staff but bench coach will be very critical. After not being selected as manager, Rob Thomson left the Yankees organization after 28 years and will become bench coach for inexperienced manager Gabe Kapler in Philadelphia. I’ve already heard Eric Wedge’s name mentioned as a possible bench coach for Boone (Wedge managed Boone in Cleveland after Boone left the Yankees). I continue to preach Al Pedrique. No one has the level of relationships with the young Baby Bombers like Pedrique does. He is an experienced successful manager. Granted, his managerial success has largely been in the Minor Leagues, but he knows how to run a game to win. He did manage the Arizona Diamondbacks in 2004 for 83 games after Bob Brenly (who had managed the D-Backs over the Yankees in the 2001 World Series) was fired. Pedrique’s MLB managerial record is an uninspiring 22-61 but it’s not his fault. He was trying to do the best he could with a team that had gotten a World Series manager fired. Pedrique later served as bench coach for the Houston Astros and we all know that he won a Triple A championship with the Scranton/Wilkes-Barre RailRiders in 2016.
In retrospect, It appears the Yankees had no plan when Girardi was dismissed. At the time Girardi was told his services were done, I had felt that GM Brian Cashman had a clear idea whom he wanted to occupy the manager’s chair. The Boone choice shows that he most likely did not enter the equation until he aced his interview with Cashman. Of course, he had to get his foot in the door for the interview so he was obviously on Cashman’s mind but most likely wasn’t the clear choice when this thing started.
|Credit: Patrick E McCarthy|
I remember being a little upset when Boone suffered the knee injury in a pickup basketball game in January 2004 which ended his season and his Yankees career. It set in motion the trade which brought Alex Rodriguez to the Bronx. No disrespect to those of you who love A-Rod but that’s one trade I wish never would have happened. But from a character-standpoint, Boone was honest with the team about the injury which caused the forfeiture of his 2004 contract (receiving only $917,533 in termination pay on the $5.75 million deal). I am sure that earned him brownie points with Yankees Managing General Partner Hal Steinbrenner.
As for Hensley Meulens, he will return to the San Francisco Giants to become bench coach for Manager Bruce Bochy. I really hope that he gets an opportunity to manage in the not-so-distant future. For all we know, he could very well be Bochy’s replacement if the present Giants manager decides to step down in the next few years. I was very impressed with Meulens and I feel that he’ll be an outstanding manager one day.
Carlos Beltran didn’t get the job since the leap from player to manager with no break was viewed as too much, but I hope that Beltran gets another opportunity to serve within the Yankees organization. Like Meulens, he has the potential to be a great manager one day. For now, it would be great to have him on the coaching staff. If not, his presence in the front office and/or as a spring training instructor would be invaluable.
Welcome back to the New York Yankees, Aaron Boone! We hope your learning curve is small and the team prospers under your leadership. Feel free to go ahead and hit another one out of the park for us.
|Credit: Allen Kee, Getty Images|
The Hidden Ball Trick…
We know the Yankees tendered contracts to all of their arbitration-eligible players prior to last evening’s deadline, but a number of MLB players were not so fortunate.
A name that jumped out at me without looking at the entire list was Ryan Goins of the Toronto Blue Jays. It is not so much about the player’s ability but rather he is the one who pulled off the sneaky hidden ball trick to record an out on Todd Frazier at second base back in September. In 2017, he hit 9 homers and 62 RBI’s in 143 games with a .237 batting average. Not a great player but he’s been pesky over his career. I guess he was unable to pull off a hidden ball trick on Toronto to entice them to extend his Blue Jays career.
|Credit: Associated Press|
Another name that surprised me was first baseman Matt Adams. Adams, the former St Louis Cardinal who was acquired by Atlanta to fill in during Freddie Freeman’s time on the DL last year, was non-tendered by the Braves. I didn’t expect Adams to be part of the 2018 Braves Roster but I thought he had some value as a trade candidate for an organization that was recently stripped of multiple international prospects. Instead, he’ll hit the open market to find a new home. I’d take a flyer on him as a potential hedge for the health of Greg Bird.
This year, I hope the Yankees can reach deals with their arbitration-eligible players before their scheduled hearings. I’d hate to see a repeat performance of last year’s contentious hearing between Dellin Betances and the Yankees that brought ugly remarks by Yankees President Randy Levine. The fade by Betances last season supported the Yankees position but last year’s hearing did nothing to help the confidence of the pitcher (hurting his psyche more than anything).
Well, yesterday was a busy start to the new month. The Yankees have their manager and team officials are probably headed to Los Angeles to meet with the agents for Japanese superstar Shohei Otani who was officially posted by the Nippon Ham Fighters yesterday. Representatives for both the San Francisco Giants and St Louis Cardinals have met with Giancarlo Stanton in Los Angeles so we could see a trade of the big slugger to either the Giants or Cards by early next week. Unlike November, December should prove to be a wild and exciting ride.
Much to be thankful for…
As Thanksgiving approaches, we have much to be thankful for this year. The Yankees clearly exceeded our expectations and they appear to be on the cusp of another great dynasty run. It wasn’t that long ago that the Yankees were called an old team with bare cupboards. Thanks to GM Brian Cashman and his team, the MLB roster is loaded, the farm system is fully restocked and the future is excessively bright. I am grateful for the leadership of the Yankees and I am very excited about the upcoming seasons.
So, New York Yankees, THANK YOU!
Hot Stove League simmering…
Aside from Monday’s flurry of activity as the Yankees worked rapidly to finalize the 40-man Roster of Record for the upcoming Rule 5 Draft, it has been a very quiet week.
Tuesday evening saw the MLBPA and Nippon Professional Baseball reach a tentative agreement on a new posting system to cover this off-season and the next three years. The MLB owners must still ratify the new agreement which should occur next Friday, December 1st. It is expected that Shohei Otani will be posted on Saturday, December 2nd, and MLB teams will have three weeks to sign the Japanese superstar. So, by this time next month, we should know whether or not Otani will be wearing Pinstripes in 2018. All I want for Christmas is Shohei Otani in the Yankees starting rotation…with bat in hand for his off days!
|Credit: Masterpress/Getty Images|
This off-season it feels like teams are raiding the Yankees. We’ve seen the Miami Marlins snag the Yankees VP of Player Personnel (Gary Denbo) and the Houston Astros grabbed Yankees third base coach Joe Espada to be their new bench coach replacing Alex Cora (who was named the new manager of the Boston Red Sox). The Red Sox have also indirectly caused the latest departure from the organization. When Boston named Ron Roenicke as their new bench coach for Cora’s staff, it created an opening on the Los Angeles Angels coaching staff. Roenicke had been the third base coach for the Angels last year. Angels bench coach Dino Abel was moved to third base to replace Roenicke and the Angels hired Yankees minor league coordinator Josh Paul, credited with the development of Gary Sanchez, to be their new bench coach under manager Mike Scioscia. When the Yankees parted ways with manager Joe Girardi, Paul’s name was quickly mentioned as a possible replacement but he was never formally interviewed. I assume that he was a possibility for the new Yankee manager’s coaching staff but he took the ‘sure thing’ with the opportunity to be the bench coach for the Angels where he’ll be reunited with his former boss, GM Billy Eppler. I am sorry to see Paul go given how highly he was thought of within the Yankees organization but you can’t fault the guy for seeking advancement. He’s positioning himself to ensure that he does get the next managerial interview.
|Credit: Reinhold Matay, USA TODAY Sports|
Dellin Betances was caught on record this week while participating with a turkey giveaway in the Bronx. He gave an endorsement for Rob Thomson as the next Yankees manager. “A lot of guys like to work with him.” I hate to read into anything but “a lot” is not “everyone”. I still prefer Thomson as a member of the coaching staff as opposed to its leader. But I am not so strongly opposed to Thomson that I’d be disappointed if he is named manager. Support by the majority of the team is a huge positive.
All Rise except Judge (he can keep his arm down)…
The Yankees announced that Aaron Judge underwent shoulder surgery earlier this week (“loose-body removal and cartilage clean-up”). It doesn’t sound too severe and Judge is expected to be ready when camp opens in Tampa next February. The scariest part of the announcement was the surgeon…Dr Neal ElAttrache, the noted “Tommy John” surgeon and the team physician for the Los Angeles Dodgers. Dr ElAttrache is the surgeon who performed the TJ surgery on former Yankees prospect James Kaprielian.
|Credit: Barbara Davidson, Los Angeles Times|
Happy Recovery to Aaron! We’re looking forward to seeing him at 100% next Spring (okay, 99% works in his case).
Pitching his way to Sunny and 75…
Yankees prospect RHP Colten Brewer has signed a minor league free agent deal with the San Diego Padres. Brewer was only in the Yankees system for a year. He had been claimed off waivers from the Pittsburgh Pirates farm system last December. Brewer, 25, did well at A/AA this year but couldn’t continue the success when he reached Triple A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre. In six appearances for the RailRiders covering ten innings, he gave up 17 hits and 13 earned runs (11.70 ERA).
The Yankees Dream didn’t work out for Brewer but we wish him the best in San Diego.
|Credit: Martin Griff|
Did they used to work for us? Yikes!…
I do not blame the Yankees organization but it is a black mark that former Atlanta Braves GM John Coppolella received a lifetime ban from MLB for his involvement in the fraudulent international signings scandal perpetrated by the Braves. Atlanta’s former head of scouting Gordon Blakeley received a one year suspension. Both Coppolella and Blakeley have their roots with the Yankees organization. Coppolella was an intern during the George Steinbrenner regime. Blakeley was a former Yankees scout credited for signing Robinson Cano, Orlando “El Duque” Hernandez, and Jose Contreras.
I am not blaming the Yankees for the actions of their former employees but admittedly, after their crimes, I wish they had been former Red Sox employees (or some other team) as opposed to the Yankees. However, I am sure the example set with the Braves and the penalties they’ve suffered will cause all teams to button up their processes for international signings.
I have great respect for new Braves GM Alex Anthopoulos but he has his hands full…no doubt an understatement.
Latest Yankees Managerial Candidate…
If outgoing WFAN host Mike Francesa is going to toss his name into the ring as a potential manager for the Yankees, I’ll throw one out…Bryan Van Dusen, co-owner of The Greedy Pinstripes! The guy knows how to communicate with players and he loves statistical analysis. Plus, he is a devout Yankees fan and has shown the ability to address the media in a highly effective manner. Sounds like he checks all the boxes to me.
Van Dusen for Yankees Manager!
Happy Thanksgiving to All!
|Credit: Eric Christian Smith-AP|
American League Championship Series
Astros 7, Yankees 1…
Series tied, 3-3
If the Yankees are going to win the ALCS, they’ll need to figure out how to score more than a single run in a game at Minute Maid Park. Three runs in three games is not going to get ‘er done. The Yankees were getting hard hits against Justin Verlander on Friday night, but they had nothing to show for it. Meanwhile, the Astros bats came alive and they seized the win in Game 6.
On the bright side, the Yankees have responded to adversity the entire post-season, winning ‘do or die’ games against the Minnesota Twins and Cleveland Indians. It’s that time once again so hopefully the Yankees can find a way to score runs and take the victory tonight.
Brett Gardner led off the game with a single to center over the outstretched glove of shortstop Carlos Correa. Unfortunately, Aaron Judge followed with a grounder to Correa that the Astros quickly turned for a double play.
After Luis Severino easily set down the Astros in the bottom of the 1st, Gary Sanchez reached first base on a soft grounder to third to open the 2nd inning. But El Gary wasn’t able to do more than have a brief conversation with first base coach Tony Pena when Verlander struck out two of the next three hitters (Greg Bird and Aaron Hicks) and got the middle batter (Starlin Castro) to fly out to center.
The Yankees got another hit in the 3rd inning, a one-out single up the middle into left center field by Chase Headley, but again the runner had no place to go as he was left stranded.
Meanwhile, through the first three innings, Luis Severino had yet to give up a hit. Carlos Correa finally got the first hit for the Astros with a two-out single to right center in the bottom of the 4th. Correa was left stranded but the tide was turning. Instead of the hits against Verlander and none against Severino, the reverse pattern developed. Verlander set the Yankees down in order in the 4th and 5th innings.
|Credit: Eric Christian Smith-AP|
The Astros led off the bottom of the 5th with a walk by Alex Bregman. A groundout to Starlin Castro by Marwin Gonzalez moved the runner to second. Sevy was unable to throw strikes to Evan Gattis and walked him on four pitches. Brian McCann took advantage of the runner in scoring position with a drive to right that bounced over the wall on one hop for a ground-rule double, scoring Bregman and moving Gattis to third. Like Gattis, Sevy was unable to throw strikes to George Springer, also walking him on four straight pitches. The bases were loaded, with only one out. Josh Reddick lofted a fly to center for the second out but it wasn’t deep enough to score the runner. It brought Jose Altuve to the plate with the bases still jammed with Astros. To borrow a line from Manager Joe Girardi, it’s not what you want. Altuve rapped a hard drive to left to score Gattis and McCann. The Astros were up 3-0. It was end of the line for Severino. Chad Green came in and got the final out when Carlos Correa popped out to Starlin Castro. It was a very disappointing inning for the young 23-year-old starter and quite possibly his final inning of the year if the Yankees cannot find ways to score runs in Houston.
|Credit: NY Post: Charles Wenzelberg|
The Yankees finally got a couple of hits in an inning against Verlander when they got two singles in the top of the 6th. Chase Headley led off with a single to center. Brett Gardner and Aaron Judge recorded outs (pop out to short and strikeout, respectively) but then Didi Gregorius lined a single to right, the ball dropping in front of right fielder Josh Reddick. Runners at first and second with two outs for Gary Sanchez. With one swing of the bat, El Gary had the potential to tie the game. Sadly, all he could do was hit a grounder to short for the final out.
More promise but ultimately disappointment continued in the top of the 7th when Greg Bird walked and Starlin Castro was hit by a pitch. The HBP was not initially called by the home plate umpire but Girardi, learning from prior lessons, challenged the call and it showed that Castro had, in fact, been hit on the wristband. Aaron Hicks had the first crack at Verlander but he struck out. Todd Frazier was next and he hit a high fly to center, to the wall, and a leaping catch by George Springer. Oh man, just another foot or so and the game would have been tied.
|Credit: NY Post: Anthony J Causi & Getty Images|
Chase Headley grounded out to the right side to end the threat, missing a huge opportunity for the road team.
In the top of the 8th, Verlander was finally out of the game, replaced by Brad Peacock. After Peacock got Brett Gardner to fly out in left field foul territory (credit left fielder Marwin Gonzales for the running catch with very limited room), Aaron Judge blasted a pitch, nearly to the roof, over the wall in left center to make it a 3-1 game.
|Credit: Houston Chronicle: Karen Warren|
Signs of life…not. Didi Gregorius flied out to left and Gary Sanchez struck out to end the inning.
For the bottom of the 8th, the Yankees replaced Chad Green with David Robertson. Great job by Green. After replacing Severino in the bottom of the 5th, Green did not allow a hit or run over 2 1/3 innings pitched. He only walked a batter and struck out three ‘Stros. For David Robertson, the results were not the same. He was greeted with a homer to left over the scoreboard by Jose Altuve. After the game, D-Rob said that he threw the 2-2 pitch where he wanted but Altuve still went yard. Carlos Correa was next and he doubled to left into the corner. Yuli Gurriel singled to right and the Astros had runners at the corners and still nobody out. Alex Bregman lined a double to left center on a ball that dropped between Brett Gardner and Aaron Hicks to bring both runners around to score. A throwing error by Didi Gregorius to home plate that got away from Gary Sanchez allowed Bregman to move to third. Four batters, four hits, three runs (with a fourth to eventually score), no outs. An ugly line for D-Rob and the end of his latest outing.
|Credit: NY Post: Charles Wenzelberg|
Dellin Betances entered the game. It started well when he struck out Marwin Gonzalez for the first out. But then Evan Gattis lofted a fly ball deep enough to right center to score Bregman on the sacrifice as the throw from Aaron Hicks to Gary Sanchez was off the line. The Astros had increased their lead to 7-1 over the offensively-challenged Yankees. Brian McCann followed with a single to right that Starlin Castro couldn’t quite reach, but Betances got George Springer to ground out to third with a broken bat for the final out. Two very ugly innings for the Pinstripers…the 5th and the 8th.
The Astros brought their closer, Ken Giles, out for the top of the 9th despite the six-run lead. It seemed odd to bring in your best reliever in that situation but Astros manager A.J. Hinch gets paid a lot more money than I do to make those decisions. Greg Bird flied out to right for the first out, but then Starlin Castro singled to left center. Aaron Hicks walked and the Yankees had two runners on base with only one out. After a coaching visit to the mound, Giles settled down and retired Todd Frazier on a fly out to left. He struck out Chase Headley swinging for the game-ending out.
I don’t know what you say after a game like this. The Yankees were whipped in all facets of the game. It was a game that you quickly forget and move on.
The Yankees will pull out their stopper, CC Sabathia, for the seventh and final game of the series. No doubt this is an ‘all hands on deck’ situation. Dallas Keuchel has already said on record that he’ll be ready to thwart any rallies out of the bullpen, and even Justin Verlander was saying that he might be ready depending upon how his arm feels today. Charlie Morton will make the Game 7 start for the Astros. The childhood Yankees fan will get the opportunity to disappoint the many of us who are still Yankees fans. Sabathia has not been defeated following a Yankees loss this year. Let’s hope that streak continues one more time.
Odds & Ends…
Yesterday, I wrote about the managerial openings but I could not have envisioned that the Washington Nationals would emerge as a team with an opening. Their firing of Dusty Baker caught me by surprise. Both John Farrell and Baker have proved that simply winning your division to make the play-offs is not enough. There’s no doubt that Baker mishandled the Stephen Strasburg injury situation earlier in the post-season and that may have been the ultimate cause for his dismissal. The Nationals have one more shot next year before star Bryce Harper becomes a free agent so whomever gets the job will carry high expectations. It’s a tough job to walk into and I thought they would have been stronger with the continuity of Baker, a very good manager, at the top. The Nationals reportedly want to talk to Astros bench coach Alex Cora which could throw a monkey wrench into Boston’s plans to hire Cora. There will be no honeymoon period for the guys who get the jobs with the Nationals and the Red Sox. Win now or walk.
Of course, there’s still a chance that the Yankees could be looking for a new manager soon. Never a dull moment in Major League Baseball.
|Credit: NY Daily News: Andrew Savulich / TNS|
Have a great Saturday! Bring home the AL Championship, Guys! Thumbs down, you got this! Go Yankees!
American League Championship Series
Yankees 8, Astros 1
Astros lead Series, 2-1
CC Sabathia is proving, again and again, that he is the team’s prime stopper in 2017. I almost feel bad since I was among those who left CC for dead. I started to buy into Sabathia early in the season, but when he ran into his bump in the road and time on the DL, I was burying the guy again. Yet, here he is on the main stage, being trusted with the ball in the most dire situations and he has not disappointed. Monday, backed by home runs from Todd Frazier and Aaron Judge, Sabathia reeled off his 10th win (against no losses) following a Yankees loss with an elite 1.69 ERA in those situations as the Yankees put the brakes on Houston’s march to the World Series.
Aaron Judge draws the most attention when going yard, but the biggest hit was provided courtesy of Todd Frazier. At the trading deadline when the Yankees acquired Frazier, it felt like he was going to be a two month rental before moving on. However, Frazier is showing how much he enjoys playing in the Bronx and seems to be tailor made for Yankee Stadium. I recognize that Miguel Andujar (or perhaps a free agent signing of Manny Machado after the 2018 season) represents the future at third, but Frazier deserves an encore performance in the Bronx next season.
|Credit: John Munson-NJ Advance Media for NJ.com|
While the final line for Astros starter Charlie Morton was not pretty, he was pitching great early. After two strikeouts by Morton to start the game, Didi Gregorius got the first hit for the Yankees with an infield grounder to third, but he was quickly erased for the final out when Morton’s pickoff throw to first was a little faster than Didi’s sliding hand.
It looked like Morton, who grew up as a Yankees fan in Connecticut, was going to have a very good game in this pitching-strong series. Like the first inning, Morton got two quick outs to start the second inning…a line out to center by Gary Sanchez, who jumped on the first pitch, and a strike out of Greg Bird. Then, Starlin Castro hit a weak squibbler toward third that third baseman Alex Bregman tried unsuccessfully to barehand. Carlos Correa retrieved the ball and threw to first, but Castro had already crossed the bag. Aaron Hicks followed with a high fly to left that dropped in for a single. The Yankees had runners at first and second, but those were two hard earned hits so you couldn’t really fault Morton. On Morton’s third pitch to Todd Frazier, he threw a good outside fastball but Frazier reached out and got enough of the bat on the ball with a one-handed swing to power it over the right field wall. The Yankees were up, 3-0.
|Credit: Adam Hunger-USA TODAY Sports|
Staked to a three-run lead, CC Sabathia appeared to wobble in the top of the 3rd inning. After getting two outs, he walked George Springer. Alex Bregman singled to deep left, but a great throw by Brett Gardner to second base held the runners at the corners. The very dangerous Jose Altuve was up next and Sabathia pitched very cautiously to him before losing him on four balls. The bases were loaded for the Astros, the best hitting team in baseball with runners in scoring position. However, Sabathia got Carlos Correa to pop out to short for the final out. Weebles wobble but they don’t fall down. Excellent job by Sabathia to get out of the inning unscathed.
Greg Bird led off the bottom of the 4th with a fly to left that bounced over the wall for a ground rule double. Left fielder Cameron Maybin came running up to catch the ball but then pulled up at the last moment before the ball hit the ground and became a souvenir in the seats. After Starlin Castro grounded out to third, Aaron Hicks hit a fly to right which Josh Reddick caught on the warning track but Bird was able to tag and move to third. Todd Frazier walked to bring up Chase Headley. Headley hit a grounder to second baseman Jose Altuve in shallow right and reached when Altuve bobbled the ball. Frazier was safe at second and Bird scored on the play. Brett Gardner was hit by a pitch on the left knee to load the bases, which brought Astros manager A.J. Hinch out of the dugout with a call to the bullpen. He brought in Will Harris to replace Morton. With Aaron Judge batting, Harris threw a wild pitch and the runners advanced, pushing Frazier across home plate to score the Yankees’ fifth run. Judge finally broke out of his ALCS slump when he blasted a line drive into the left field seats for three more runs. The Yankees had increased their lead to 8-0.
|Credit: John Munson-NJ Advance Media for NJ.com|
The Astros threatened again in the top of the 6th inning. Carlos Correa started the inning with a hard grounder that deflected off the glove of Didi Gregorius to safely reach first base. After Sabathia recorded two outs, Marwin Gonzalez hit a grounder to Gregorius and reached base when Didi lost his footing and overthrew Greg Bird at first. Correa moved to third. After a visit to the mound by Larry Rothschild, Sabathia got Josh Reddick to hit a soft grounder back to the pitching mound that CC was able to field and throw to first for the final out. The shutout remained intact for the great 37-year-old Yankees lefty.
For Sabathia, his day was finished. Adam Warren took over in the top of the 7th. It didn’t start well when he walked his first batter, but he settled in and retired the next three batters to push the game to the 8th inning. Warren was back out for the 8th and retired the Astros in order.
|Credit: John Munson-NJ Advance Media for NJ.com|
It was inevitable that we’d see Dellin Betances at some point and Joe Girardi decided his time was the top of the 9th inning to seal the deal for the Yankees. It was a great opportunity for Betances to earn redemption and show that he can be a trusted arm for the duration of the playoffs. Unfortunately, it was a missed opportunity for Betances who walked the first two batters he faced and was pulled.
|Credit: Getty Images|
Tommy Kahnle was brought in. Cameron Maybin greeted Kahnle with a single to left to load the bases. Kahnle struck out George Springer for the first out but then he walked Alex Bregman which pushed Marwin Gonzalez across the plate for the Astros’ first run (a run charged to Betances). Bases still loaded for likely AL MVP Jose Altuve and only one out. Kahnle came up big when Altuve hit a grounder to second baseman Starlin Castro who stepped on second and threw to Greg Bird at first to complete the double play. Game over. Yankees win!
Granted, Judge’s home run was huge. While I still feel that Frazier’s bomb was the difference-maker (offensively), the play of the game occurred in the top of the 4th inning when Marwin Gonzalez led off with a fly to right that took Aaron Judge to the wall. Judge reached up to catch the ball as he crashed into the wall and fall to the ground. It was an incredible catch to rob Gonzalez of a potential home run. Of course, it brought the obligatory questions of who was hurt the most…Judge or the wall…but it was the play of the game in my opinion. The Yankees were holding the three-run lead at that point courtesy of the Frazier home run, and a rally by the Astros in that spot would have made it a much different game.
|Credit: Elsa-Getty Images|
Judge, proving his glove is as powerful as his bat, also made a diving catch of a line drive hit by Cameron Maybin in the fifth inning.
|Credit: Robert Sabo|
I can’t say enough great things about CC Sabathia. Time and again, he has proven to be a crafty veteran who simply knows how to win. He’s faced his share of adversity but continues to overcome. Like Frazier, I think that CC Sabathia was earned a spot on the 2018 Yankees.
|Credit: John Munson-NJ Advance Media for NJ.com|
The Yankees now turn Game 4 over to the forgotten Sonny Gray. Like Betances (who failed his ALCS audition), this is a chance for redemption for Gray. We know that he will be a huge part of future Yankee teams but this is his time to grab the moment and make his mark in New York. Gray (10-12, 3.55 ERA) will be opposed by Lance McCullers, Jr (7-4, 4.25 ERA). Don’t let the ERA fool you, McCullers, the son of a former Yankee, has been very tough on the Pinstripers. This game should be a classic. Hopefully, Sonny Gray rises to the challenge to craft an exciting first chapter of his Yankees post-season career.
Odds & Ends…
I missed the weekend game (Game 2) due to a preplanned trip. The Yankees failed to tell me that they were going to make it to the American League Championship series earlier in the year when I made plans. A heartbreaking loss is not fun to write about, but I really appreciated the way that Astros catcher stood up for Gary Sanchez after the game. McCann could easily join the throngs who love to bash the Yankees but he’s been nothing but the professional that we came to love during his days in the Bronx.
I keep reading so many articles that speculate whether or not Manager Joe Girardi will return and how he seems to be edgier around friends and family. Personally, I think he’d be foolish to leave at the dawn of a new era in Yankees baseball. I think he’ll come to an agreement with the Yankees after the season is over to help the Baby Bombers strive for greater heights over the next few years. Honestly, I do not see any viable alternatives and nothing against Yankee coaches like Tony Pena or Rob Thomsen but I think, despite his faults, Joe Girardi is the best man for the job.
Have a great Tuesday! Like Joe Girardi and Joe Torre before him have said, let’s just win one game today. We believe. Go Yankees!