Photo Credit: New York Post (Charles Wenzelberg)
Despite team win, another dismal performance by Gray…
The Yankees are winning and I am mad.
Deeply disappointed might be a better description. Sonny Gray was supposed to be an upper rotation arm capable of delivering ace-like starts. To borrow an overused line from Brendan Kuty of NJ Advance Media for NJ.com, “Sonny was not Gray-t”. Sadly, we’re saying that after every not-so-Sonny start.
Based on five starts this season, he averages barely more than four innings per start, and has given up 18 runs in 21 innings. Sure, he lowered his ERA with yesterday’s start if you want to call 8.27 to 7.71 an improvement. He has walked 16 batters including five more last night.
I know that TGP’s Daniel Burch is a huge Sonny Gray fan but I can say…right now…I am not. He has yet to deliver a start that has made me say “Wow!”. Yet, every other member in the starting rotation has. Even the Yankees’ nearly 38 year old over-weight veteran with bad knees who has already lost time on the 10-day DL has delivered impressively.
Gray should have gotten the win in last night’s 7-4 victory over the Minnesota Twins after the Yankees had staked him to a 5-3 lead but he couldn’t get out of the fifth inning so the victory went to his replacement (Chad Green). For 14 outs, Gray threw 104 pitches with only 60 for strikes. You can’t blame this one on Gary Sanchez since it was Austin Romine behind the plate.
For his Yankees career, Gray is 5-8 with 4.69 ERA. He has given up 84 hits and 49 runs in 86 1/3 innings. His WHIP is an unsightly 1.471. He has been nowhere near the pitcher for the Yankees that he was with the Oakland Athletics. He is starting to feel a little too Javier Vazquez-ish for my comfort. A guy who pitches great in a low pressurized environment but has the ‘deer in the headlights’ look with the bright lights of the big city. Gray would probably be an ace for the Pittsburgh Pirates.
Until he can prove otherwise, he is “Sonny Gray Sucks” to me.
Meanwhile, the two pitchers connected to the Yankees in rumors during the off-season have gotten off to tremendous starts. Patrick Corbin, a lifetime Yankees fan, is currently 4-0 with a 1.89 ERA and a miniscule 0.66 WHIP (6 walks to 48 strikeouts in 33 1/3 innings). Daniel Burch did a great piece on Corbin yesterday and the Arizona Diamondbacks lefty should be on the Yankees radar when he becomes a free agent after the season. He’s a terrific potential replacement for CC Sabathia in the rotation. Gerrit Cole, whom I would have loved to have seen as a Yankee while many scoffed, is 2-1 with 1.29 ERA. His WHIP is slightly higher than Corbin’s at 0.771 but it is still very good. Cole has only walked 8 batters while striking out 49 in 35 innings.
Photo Credit: Associated Press (Mike Stone)
I want Gray to succeed as a Yankee. I really do. But I am getting tired of these pedestrian starts and his inability to throw strikes. His next start will be in Houston against the World Series Champions. He really needs to “man-up” and deliver like we know he can.
Okay, I’ll let it go for now.
As for the Yankees, I am very pleased with the overall performance of the team in recent days. With Didi Gregorius playing at All-World level, the Yankees have won five consecutive games to improve their season mark to 14-9. The Boston Red Sox won yesterday to stop their three-game losing skid, but the win dropped the Toronto Blue Jays into a second place tie with the Yankees in the AL East. Both are teams trail the Red Sox by four games. The standings certainly look much better today than they did a week ago.
I hate to see the current series with the Minnesota Twins end later today. Even if the Yankees lose, they will have won three of four before jumping a plane bound for Orange County, California. I’d prefer to keep the winning streak alive as the Yankees invade So-Cal. My love for ten-game winning streaks is only five games from fruition. Of course, if the Yankees win the next four games, it will pit Sonny Gray against Charlie Morton for the tenth win. Dammit.
Before I go, I do have to say that I think Logan Morrison really, really sucks. For him, I’ll borrow Derek Jeter’s words from his recent interview with Bryant Gumbel on HBO’s Real Sports. But unlike DJ, my use of the words is not light-hearted. Morrison is “mentally weak”. I know that the off-season was tough for all free agents, but there’s a reason it was hard for Morrison to find a job. The Tampa Bay Rays made no attempt to bring back a bat that slugged 38 home runs last year. Sure, money played into it but if Morrison was ‘all that and a bag of chips’, the Rays would have found a way to bring him back like the Kansas City Royals did in re-signing their 38 home run slugger, Mike Moustakas. Morrison’s comment about Yankees fans that “you can’t fix stupid” was actually a self-analysis on his own part. The guy’s a jerk. The Minnesota Twins are a classy organization and having such a degenerate on their roster is out of character for them.
I have no desire to see Morrison walk off the Yankee Stadium field a winner today. So, hopefully, Jordan Montgomery and company keep the winning streak alive. As long as Didi Gregorius is in the lineup, life is good.
|Photo Credit: New York Post (Corey Sipkin)|
Yankees Able to Overcome Betances…
The Yankees won their game on Friday night but it was not without unnecessary drama. The Yankees thoroughly dominated the Detroit Tigers in all phases of the game, yet the Tigers had the go-ahead run at the plate in the bottom of the eighth, thanks to a mess created by Dellin Betances. Although he was able to get two outs in the inning, it was not before the Tigers had gotten five hits and three runs off him. Mercifully, Chad Green came in to get the final out against his former team, leaving two runners stranded, to help propel the Yankees to the 8-6 victory.
After the game, Manager Aaron Boone was very supportive of Betances. Betances felt he was throwing good pitches but the Tigers were hitting everything. Betances made the comment that if he picked up the rosin bag and threw it, it was going to be hit. If the delivery is correct and both the fastball and breaking pitches are working, we can only hope good results are right around the corner. We’ll see. It’s troublesome to watch the All-Star reliever struggle in key spots. Fortunately, it didn’t cost the Yankees a game last night, but Boone had to burn Chad Green on a night he didn’t want to.
Nice job by Aroldis Chapman who struck out the side in the bottom of the ninth to earn his second save of the season.
The game was a much stronger outing for starter Jordan Montgomery. He pitched better than his final line, 6 innings, 5 hits, 3 runs, no walks and 4 strikeouts, in picking up his first victory of the season.
|Photo Credit: USA TODAY Sports (Raj Mehta)|
The star of the game was Aaron Hicks. It was so fun to watch his inside-the-park home run in the second inning off Tigers starter and former Astro Mike Fiers. The ball hit by Hicks to right-center looked like it had the distance to go yard, but it careened off the wall and away from the Tigers outfielders. Gary Sanchez, who had doubled in the preceding at-bat, scored on the play, while Hicks came around and slid headfirst into home plate ahead of the throw with a huge grin on his face.
|Photo Credit: Getty Images (Gregory Shamus)|
Hicks added a traditional home run in the sixth inning to become the fifth Yankee hitter with a multi-home run game this year. This is an incredible accomplishment considering only fourteen games have been played. Plus, Aaron Judge has yet to join the multi-HR parade and you know it is only a matter of time. The way this season is going, Ronald Torreyes will probably be the next hitter to have a two home run game.
This weekend’s games against the Tigers are looking very questionable right now. The weather forecast calls for rain on both Saturday and Sunday. The Yankees do not make any further trips to Detroit this season so if either one of the next two games are postponed, it will create a schedule challenge for the makeup. Hopefully it doesn’t lead to a double-header tomorrow before the Yankees head for home.
I am not excited about the anticipated start today (weather-permitting) by Luis Cessa. I really prefer to see Cessa in limited relief appearances. But I guess the hand-writing was on the wall that he’d be the spot starter in place of the injured CC Sabathia when Domingo German pitched three innings in relief of Sonny Gray (very effectively, I might add) on Thursday. Hopefully, if they get the game in, Cessa will pitch much better than I expect. I’d love to see him prove me wrong. Sadly, he never seems to but today is a new day.
I hate to dwell on what could have been, but reading this morning’s sports page shows that Todd Frazier hit two home runs last night to help the New York Mets improve their record to 11-1 and Gerrit Cole of the Houston Astros struck out 14 batters for his third consecutive game with 10+ strikeouts. Cole would look really good in the Yankees rotation right now but it was not meant to be. I remain hopeful that GM Brian Cashman will deliver us something better by the trading deadline but the early results do not look good.
|Photo Credit: Houston Chronicle (Karen Warren)|
If the Yankees decide to promote top prospect Gleyber Torres next Thursday, they have very difficult roster decisions to make. The obvious move is to option Tyler Wade to Scranton/Wilkes-Barre. At the start of the season, I thought that Ronald Torreyes was the most vulnerable potential roster casualty but the guy simply performs every time he is called upon. His versatility and ability to come into games with effective results after sitting on the bench for days makes him too valuable to lose. The only way I can see Torres and Wade on the active roster together would be through a trade of an active roster member (but who?). As I’ve said before, I’ll gladly take Torres over Wade any day of the week. It’s not that I don’t think Wade will be a good player, I just feel Gleyber will be a star. Not right away, but I am ready for the maturation process in the Majors for the young superstar-in-waiting.
|Photo Credit: Associated Press (John Raoux)|
It’s not my money but I’d cut bait with Jacoby Ellsbury. I know, that’s a lot of money down the drain but Ellsbury’s presence, when he comes back from the DL, is a hindrance. I know that he’s still a good player but I’d prefer to see him play elsewhere. Let him go back to Boston, even if we are paying the freight. I don’t really care at this point. I am done with Ellsbury.
Jace Peterson cleared waivers yesterday and was sent outright to the Scranton/Wilkes-Barre RailRiders so we may not have seen the last of the former Padre/Brave second baseman.
Another former Yankee made his return to the Yankees organization when Rule 5 draftee Nestor Cortes, Jr was offered back to the Yankees by the Baltimore Orioles. The return of Cortes means that none of the players drafted from the Yankees in the Major League phase of last December’s Rule 5 Draft stuck with their new teams. I saw a story a few days ago that blamed misuse of Cortes by Orioles manager Buck Showalter for putting the young left-hander in a no-win situation. Cortes had yielded two grand slams within a week. Showalter said “If we could have gotten a little deeper into our games with starting pitching, I think I could have protected him more. But, we were forced into some things. I still think he’s got a chance to be a good pitcher.” When Baltimore had selected Cortes, they had high hopes that he’d make the starting rotation and felt that they had “stolen one” from the Yankees. It didn’t work out but we’re glad to see Cortes back in the Yankees family. Cortes will be assigned to Double-A Trenton where he’ll join the other Orioles Rule 5 returnee Jose Mesa, Jr.
Tyler Austin has appealed his five-game suspension. The appeal will most likely be heard early next week but the downside is that once Austin begins serving his suspension, he can’t be replaced on the roster so the Yankees will be a man down. Neil Walker would be the full-time starter at first, backed by Austin Romine. That’s dangerously thin for the Yankees, particuarly considering the team will soon embark on a very difficult stretch on the schedule.
Miami Marlins CEO Derek Jeter will not be coming to Yankee Stadium for the two game series between the Yankees and the Miami Marlins which starts on Monday. Jeter will make the trip to New York, but won’t travel to the Bronx to see the games in person at Yankee Stadium. Jeter told ESPN, “I went to a spring training game when we played New York, but it would be an awkward situation for me to actually go to Yankee Stadium. I’m just being honest with you guys, so that’s why I’m not going.” I saw a great twitter line yesterday that said Jeter decided to send Giancarlo Stanton to the Yankees as his representative. Works for me.
|Photo Credit: Getty Images (Michael Reaves)|
Well, let’s hope the Rain Gods allow us to get in today’s game. Never a better time for a win than today.
Photo Credit: Getty Images (Adam Glanzman)
Yankees invade Fenway Park…
Without delving too much into last weekend, I’ve had better days. Losing three of four to a team that you are supposed to beat (the Baltimore Orioles) is difficult to accept, especially when the Yankee could have easily won the last loss when they had the bases loaded, no outs, in extra innings with Aaron Judge and Giancarlo Stanton coming to bat.
Am I disappointed in Stanton so far? Absolutely. Am I going to fret over him in Pinstripes as a result? Absolutely NOT! Death, taxes, and Giancarlo Stanton going on a home run tear are certainties of life. Things will get better and so will Stanton and Company. When Stanton is on one of his monster tears like last summer, his slow start (the two Opening Day home runs in Toronto excluded) will be long forgotten.
Photo Credit: Getty Images (Jim McIsaac)
While the Yankees have struggled out of the gate (winning only five of ten games), the Boston Red Sox have been on a roll. The last time Boston lost was the season opener in St Petersburg, FL on March 29th. They have yet to lose another game, and lead the AL East by two games over the Toronto Blue Jays. The Yankees trail the Sox by three and a half games. As many have already said, no division championships were ever won in April. Well, except for maybe a few NBA and NHL teams. For MLB teams, this is far from over. Once the Yankee bats heat up like we know they can, it’s going to be a fun and exciting chase in the American League East. The Red Sox can run but they can’t hide. The target is on their back; not ours.
I am sure that Red Sox fans are ecstatic over their team’s 8-1 record but you have to keep in mind they did it against the lowly Florida teams. Sorry Jetes, but your team does suck right now (poor Starlin). So does Rob Refsnyder’s team. The Yankees represent the first real test Boston has faced this year. I know, it would be better if the Yankees weren’t scuffling coming into this series, but the intensity of the Yankees-Red Sox rivalry always seems to bring out the best in everyone. The Red Sox will throw Chris Sale, David Price, and Rick Porcello at the Yankees on successive nights. The Yankees counter with their best…Luis Severino, Masahiro Tanaka, and most likely Sonny Gray. Win or lose, this is going to be a great series. If the Yankees can take at least two of three, they’ll be in great shape. A sweep would be perfect but that might be asking for too much. So, for now, I’d settle for at least two of the games.
Tuesday, April 10th at 7:10 pm ET
Yankees: Luis Severino (2-0, 1.38 ERA)
Red Sox: Chris Sale (0-0, 0.82 ERA)
Wednesday, April 11th at 7:10 ET
Yankees: Masahiro Tanaka (1-1, 2.92 ERA)
Red Sox: David Price (1-0, 0.00 ERA)
Thursday, April 12th at 7:10 ET
Yankees: TBA (expected to be Sonny Gray, 1-0, 3.60 ERA)
Red Sox: Rick Porcello (2-0, 2.84 ERA)
The Red Sox did suffer a setback prior to the start of the series. It was announced yesterday they have placed shortstop Xander Bogaerts on the 10-day DL with a small fracture in his left ankle. He is expected to be out 10-14 days. To take his place on the roster, the Red Sox recalled infielder Tzu-Wei Lin from Triple A Pawtucket. Lin and Brock Holt are expected to share time at short while Bogaerts is out.
MLB.com finally resolved the 40-man roster dilemma by removing Cody Asche. I never did see any explanations so I honestly do not know if Asche was reported on the 40-man roster in error or if he cleared waivers. The Scranton/Wilkes-Barre RailRiders site was also corrected to show that he is not on the 40-man roster. For the life of me, I couldn’t figure out why forty-one names were showing on the 40-man roster last weekend. I knew that Asche had to be the key but it was odd no explanations could be found. On the transactions page of MLB.com, the 4/04/18 entry shows that Asche was “optioned” to Triple A which implies that he was on the MLB roster. There are no subsequent transactions involving Asche, who started at third base last night for the RailRiders. I guess whatever the situation is/was, they got it resolved as I knew they would. I just hate it when something does not make sense to me.
The Yankees are expected to get Aaron Hicks back for the getaway game on Thursday before the Yankees leave Boston for Detroit. He will be a welcome addition. Hopefully A-A-Ron can hit the ground running when he returns. We need his bat and defense ASAP.
Today is a new day. It is time for the Giancarlo Stanton Era to begin in earnest. The Yankees are deep in the heart of enemy territory. All hands on deck. Let’s beat the Red Sox.
|Photo Credit: NJ Advance Media for NJ.com (John Munson)|
Let’s Try This Again…
Here we are…Opening Day at Yankee Stadium in The Bronx, New York! Of course, it’s not a certainty the game will be played given the rain currently in the forecast. According to my weather app, there is an 85% chance of rain at scheduled game time of 4 pm Eastern. Decreasing rains are expected throughout the evening. Will the game be played or not? Stay tuned.
If the game is rained out, there is a possibility the Yankees could play a double-header tomorrow. More rain is anticipated, however, the likelihood decreases later in the day. The Rays do not return to New York until Thursday, June 14th for the start of a four-game set. Monday, June 18th is an off day between home series. Hopefully, the weather cooperates and there is no need to strategically alter the schedule for a makeup game.
The way the schedule has played out, the Yankees will face the two best (healthy) Rays starters, Chris Archer and Blake Snell. Meanwhile, when the Rays travel to Boston this weekend, they’ll use the bullpen for at least one of the starts with their current four-man rotation. Sure, they go easy on Boston. The Red Sox have clearly benefited from the schedule early. They opened with a four-game set in St Petersburg, FL against the Rays, winning three of the games. They traveled down to Miami yesterday to beat the Marlins in front of Derek Jeter and Jorge Posada, with another game scheduled for today and their best starter, Chris Sale, on the mound. Then, they’ll fly back to Boston to face the lowly Rays again. The Red Sox do not face a playoff caliber team until they see the Yankees at Fenway Park next Tuesday. Aside from another series at Yankee Stadium in May, the Red Sox do not face a 2017 playoff team again until the end of May/first of June when they travel to Houston. Meanwhile, during that time in addition to the two Boston series, the Yankees face the Minnesota Twins, Houston Astros, Cleveland Indians, and Washington Nationals. It doesn’t get any easier for the Pinstripers. Manager Aaron Boone needs to improve his bullpen management in a hurry and the big guys need to hit.
|Photo Credit: USA TODAY Sports (Kevin Sousa)|
Entering play today, the Red Sox lead the American League East by one game over the Toronto Blue Jays and a game and a half over the beloved Yankees. The Sox have won four consecutive games after losing the season opener against the Rays. I am looking for the Yankees to be aggressive in their series with the Rays and the upcoming weekend set with the Baltimore Orioles before next week’s showdown in Boston. Time to show the Sox the better team wears Pinstripes.
Former Yankee Stephen Drew has called it quits. I am not quite sure what Daniel Burch will do now with his Stephen Drew Sucks Award. He may have to find a new player to recognize although the Yankees bullpen…presently…is giving him plenty of candidates to choose from. For his Yankees career (2014-15), Drew played in 177 games. He swatted 20 home runs and drove in 59 RBIs. His batting line was a horrific .187/.257/.352. He struck out 107 times in 583 plate appearances, managing to draw only 50 walks. Farewell, Stephen. I hope your post-playing career accomplishments exceed those on the baseball field.
|Photo Credit: USATSI|
How good would Bryce Harper look in Pinstripes right now? He belted a three-run homer last night against the Atlanta Braves, and has three home runs on the year and seven RBIs. His batting line is .417/.550/1.167. Here’s $400 million, Mr Harper. Please sign here. We’re keeping #34 warm for you (please don’t pay any attention to the A.J. Burnett stains).
|Photo Credit: Getty Images (Kevin C Cox)|
I saw some tweets yesterday that the Yankees had reacquired Minor League LHP Daniel Camarena, however, I’ve been unable to confirm it. Wikipedia states that he was traded back to the Yankees organization on April 1st. Camarena, originally drafted by the Yankees in 2011, had signed with the Chicago Cubs in January as a minor league free agent. The Yankees could certainly use more lefties at Triple A, but Camarena is still showing on the Iowa Cubs roster and there have been no announcements through either the Cubs website or the Scranton/Wilkes-Barre RailRiders site. Camarena did not have a great training camp for the Cubbies. He pitched in five games covering 4 1/3 innings. He gave up eight hits and six runs for an inflated 12.46 ERA. He walked two and struck out four. To his defense, he did register two saves. But until his acquisition is confirmed, I don’t know whether to say ‘Welcome back’ or ‘Good luck with the Cubs’. I’ll gladly take any decent left-handed options over the newly signed Oliver Perez.
Well, here’s hoping there is a break in the afternoon’s storm clouds so that we can play nine.
It is being reported that former Yankee Oscar Gamble, 68, has passed away. If true, this is a very sad loss. I thoroughly enjoyed Gamble as a Yankee and, no, it was not because of the ‘fro. He was a very good ball player, in my opinion. He hit 200 home runs over the course of his 17-year career that included stops with the Cubs, Phillies, Indians, White Sox, Padres and Rangers in addition to the Yankees. He finished his career with the White Sox in 1985, and was a .265 lifetime hitter. Certainly not Hall of Fame numbers, but you could always count on Oscar for a homer when you needed it. I loved watching his left-handed swing in the old Yankee Stadium.
During the winter prior to the 1981 season, I met Gamble in Montgomery, Alabama. He gave me his autograph and I vividly remember our conversation about the upcoming season. He was excited to play with the big free agent that the Yankees had just signed (David Mark Winfield). He came across to me as an incredibly humble and kind man. I was a nobody yet he took the time with me. It’s a meeting that I’ll never forget, and I am very saddened to hear the news of his passing.
Photo Credit: NY Daily News (Martin)
It was also sad to see the news about the passing of former Padres and Diamondbacks General Manager Kevin Towers yesterday. During his time in San Diego, he was a frequent trading partner for Yankees GM Brian Cashman and he spent some time in the Yankees front office (2010 season) after his departure from the Padres before getting his next gig in Arizona. Most recently, he had been a special advisor for the Cincinnati Reds. Towers had been diagnosed with anaplastic thyroid cancer in 2016. The survival rate for this form of cancer is very low so Towers must have known his time was limited. Still, it was a shock to the Baseball world. As they say, Cancer Sucks! Towers was a great force in Major League Baseball and his loss is significant. May he rest in peace…
Photo Credit: Associated Press (Ross D Franklin)
Maybe it’s just me, but it seems like there have been too many deaths already this year.
On to ‘less grim’ topics…I’d say positive but that doesn’t really seem to apply.
The Yankees lost a potential upgrade for backup catcher when free agent catcher Alex Avila signed a contract with the Arizona Diamondbacks on Tuesday. Although there were no indications the Yankees were ever connected to Avila, many Yankees fans called for the signing of Avila as an upgrade for the offensively-challenged Austin Romine. Instead, Avila will represent the offensive side of a platoon with defensive-specialist Jeff Mathis in the Sonoran Desert. The D-Backs had a void at catcher when last year’s starter, Chris Iannetta, recently signed a free agent contract with his original team, the Colorado Rockies. Arizona also has Chris Hermann and former Yankee John Ryan Murphy in the catching mix.
The Yankees added a veteran infielder this week when they signed second baseman/shortstop Danny Espinosa to a minor league contract with a training camp invitation. This was one of those signing that brought a “meh” from me. I didn’t like the way Espinosa expressed his displeasure with the Washington Nationals in December 2016 when the team acquired outfielder Adam Eaton, pushing the young and talented Trea Turner from center field to shortstop, and Espinosa to the bench. The Nats ended up trading Espinosa to the Los Angeles Angels, one of three teams he played for in 2017.
Photo Credit: USA TODAY Sports (Troy Taormina)
Espinosa is a poor hitter. Although he did have 24 home runs in 2016, his batting line was close to the Mendoza Line (.209/.306/.378). He had 174 strikeouts in 516 at-bats (601 plate appearances). In 2017, his line was worse in 295 plate appearances. He had 6 home runs, batting .173/.245/.278. He was released by all three teams he played for in 2017 (Angels, Seattle Mariners, and Tampa Bay Rays). The final release came a few weeks before the season was over.
If Espinosa breaks camp as the starting second baseman, it will mean that Plans A and B went horribly wrong. Alright, that might be a bit too strong. I still expect Gleyber Torres to take the position after spending the first few weeks in Scranton/Wilkes-Barre. But I strongly prefer the tandem of Tyler Wade and Ronald Torreyes as the interim solution over Espinosa. I suppose if Wade fails miserably in Tampa over the next couple of months, it is possible that Espinosa partners with Torreyes to cover second until Torres is ready. But Espinosa’s selfish behavior at the end of his time in Washington really soured me on the player.
While it looks like the Yankees will go to training camp with rookies Gleyber Torres and Miguel Andujar as the front-runners for second and third base, respectively, I still expect the Yankees to sign a veteran third baseman. It may not be a starting type, but it will be someone who can act as a safety net for Andujar. Oh boy, here comes Yunel Escobar. Regardless of who the Yankees sign, they will sign somebody. They’ve added second base bodies (Jace Peterson and the aforementioned Danny Espinosa) so I have no doubts they’ll do the same for third base. Admittedly, my hope for Todd Frazier’s return is starting to fade.
Gladly Accepting Jeter Rejects…
I haven’t seen his exact title yet, but it appears that the Yankees have added former Miami Marlins VP of Player Development Marc Delpiano to their Scouting department. Delpiano was fired by Derek Jeter (well, Jetes made the outgoing President David Samson deliver the news) when he took over the team. Delpiano’s position was replaced when the Marlins added former Yankees executive Gary Denbo. Delpiano is a highly respective baseball executive who drew much praise when he was hired by the Marlins a few years ago. He has experience working for both Neal Huntington and Theo Epstein. Good hire by GM Brian Cashman. Welcome to the Yankees family, Marc!
Despite the deathly slow off-season (no pun intended), training camp is almost upon us. We’ll soon have the opportunity to see Aaron Judge and Giancarlo Stanton putting on daily home run displays instead of wearing tuxedos…
Photo Credit: Marquee NY (Chris Lavado)
Yanks fail to make the cut…
I have to admit that I was feeling a bit disappointed when it was announced that the New York Yankees did not make Shohei Otani’s weekend cut. The Yankees had been viewed, by the industry, as the favorites to sign the two-way Japanese superstar. But as word leaked in recent days that perhaps Otani preferred a smaller West Coast market and one without a current Japanese superstar, it started to seem as though the likelihood of Otani wearing pinstripes was slipping away.
GM Brian Cashman confirmed it last evening when the Yankees, the Red Sox and other prominent East Coast teams were axed without the benefit of a face-to-face meeting. It’s unfortunate but the process has clearly shown that Otani is not driven by money. If he was, he would have waited two years before coming to the United States when he would be free to test the open market. Instead, he’s willing to leave millions on the table to take a minimum compensation deal. While I think Otani would have been a great fit with the Baby Bombers, the last thing you want on your team is a guy who doesn’t want to be there. So, I bid Otani farewell and wish him luck as he embarks on his MLB career.
In many ways, it’s probably best for the Yankees to be eliminated early in the process. It frees them up to explore other options and hopefully it leads to re-signing team leader CC Sabathia. If the Yankees had stayed in the negotiations process with Otani, their primary focus would not have been on finding other ways to improve the team as we head into the most crucial week of the MLB offseason (next week with the Baseball Winter Meetings in Orlando, Florida). They could have been distracted during this critical time, only to find out later that Otani didn’t really want to play in New York City or on the East Coast.
A few weeks back, The Greedy Pinstripes’ Daniel Burch wrote a piece about the potential pitfalls with an Otani signing and the challenges that would await a team trying to accommodate his wishes to pitch and bat. As we await the official announcement of the new Yankees manager, a guy who has never coached or managed, it’s probably best for him that he wasn’t placed into the difficult position of having to accommodate the wishes of an individual over the good of the team.
So, all things considered, after feeling some initial disappointment, I am glad that Shohei Otani will not be coming to the Bronx. He has the right to choose where he wants to play. I want to see 25 men who want to be New York Yankees.
Giancarlo and the City by the Bay…
If Giancarlo Stanton’s choices are down to the San Francisco Giants and the St Louis Cardinals, it is my belief that he’ll choose San Francisco. Given that he grew up as a fan of the Los Angeles Dodgers, I guess that’s sort of like growing up in the Bronx to become a Red Sock. But still, with no offense a great organization with a steep history in baseball tradition, I think it would be better to play in San Francisco than St Louis. Of course, there are cons with playing there. One of my favorite quotes is ‘the coldest winter I ever spent was a summer in San Francisco’, a witticism credited to Mark Twain. If you’ve been to San Francisco in August, you’ll know what I mean.
I kept expecting the Los Angeles Dodgers to enter the fray for Stanton, but they, like the Yankees, are trying to reduce payroll to reset the luxury tax penalties. So, unless the Dodgers can eliminate a few bloated contracts (such as Adrian Gonzalez), Stanton will not be bleeding Dodger Blue.
It’s very possible that the Stanton trade could be consummated this week. I feel sorry for Miami Marlins COO Derek Jeter. For budgetary reasons, he’s being forced to break out what may be Baseball’s best outfield and perhaps setting the team back at least five years from being a legitimate contender. Jeter is finding that it is not so easy sitting on the other side of the table.
Yankee Stadium, Home of My Favorite Team…
Yes, of course it is. I wouldn’t be a Yankees blog writer covering the Yankees if they weren’t my favorite team. But I am talking about another team. As a native Iowan, I have been a fan of the football program at the University of Iowa for as long as I can remember. I’ve always loved the Hawkeyes even if they have historically disappointed me most every year.
The Hawkeyes are coming to Yankee Stadium.
It was announced this weekend that the Iowa Hawkeyes (7-5) will play Boston College (7-5) in the Pinstripe Bowl at Yankee Stadium on December 27th. My favorite team playing against Boston at Yankee Stadium. Yeah, I think that’s something I can easily support and have significant experience with even if the Hawkeyes have never played a bowl game in New York before.
But back to Baseball and more importantly, Go Yankees!
American League Division Series, Game 4
Yankees 7, Indians 3…
Riding the arm of Luis Severino, who atoned for his Wild Card Game disaster, the Yankees defeated the Cleveland Indians to send the series back to Cleveland, Ohio for the series finale and the right to advance to the American League Championship Series.
This game featured the legendary Mariano Rivera on the mound. Mo tossed the honorary first pitch, looking as great as ever. It was a sign of good things to come.
Once the game started, it was three up and three down for Luis Severino, showing no signs of the jitters that brought about his collapse against the Minnesota Twins in his previous start.
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When Jay Bruce led off the top of the 2nd inning with a line drive single to right over the outstretched glove of Starlin Castro, Twitter bemoaned the break-up of Sevy’s “perfect game”. But no fear, Sevy retired the next three hitters, including the last two by strikeout, to ensure that Bruce got nothing more than a conversation with Greg Bird at first base for his effort.
The breaks started going the Yankees’ way in the bottom of the 2nd. Trevor Bauer, pitching on short rest (he started Game 1 last Thursday), has been dominant against the Yankees this year. But on Monday, those famed dancers, Mystique and Aura, came out in full force. Greg Bird started things off by grounding out at second. That didn’t start right, let’s try this again. Starlin Castro hit a hard grounder to third that third baseman Giovanny Urshela knocked down but it rolled away and Castro was safe at first. Chase Headley struck out for the second out, and it looked like Castro might suffer the same fate as Jay Bruce had in the top of the inning. With Todd Frazier batting, a Bauer pitch popped out of the glove of catcher Roberto Perez for a passed ball, allowing Castro to move to second. Todd Frazier, who had expressed prior to the game how much he enjoys playing in the post-season with the Yankees, doubled to to the left field corner to score Castro with the game’s first run. The Toddfather! Aaron Hicks kept it going with a single to the gap in center, scoring Frazier. 2-0, Yankees. Brett Gardner followed suit with a roller up the middle into center field, moving Hicks to third. A steal by Gardner put both runners in scoring position for Aaron Judge. Judge hit a fly to left that hit the warning track and bounced off the wall for a bases-clearing double. The Yankees had increased their lead to 4-0.
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After an intentional walk of Didi Gregorius, Tribe manager Terry Francona decided to move to Plan B and pulled Bauer in favor of reliever Joe Smith. Smith got Gary Sanchez to pop out to first in foul territory for the final out, but it had been a very big inning for the Yankees with four unearned runs.
Severino easily breezed through the Indians lineup in the top of the 3rd to bring the Yankees to bat once again. Reliever Mike Clevinger took over for Joe Smith and walked Greg Bird to start the Yankees’ half of the inning. Starlin Castro doubled to center off the wall to advance Bird to third. After Chase Headley struck out (not a great game for the Headster), Todd Frazier walked to load the bases. Aaron Hicks grounded into a force out to first baseman Carlos Santana who quickly threw home to retire Bird for the second out. Brett Gardner followed with a grounder to third, but the normally reliable Giovanny Urshela, after a slight hesitation, threw the ball high to first which pulled Santana off the bag for his second error of the game. Gardy safe at first. It allowed Starlin Castro to score on the play. Another call to the bullpen brought in Danny Salazar who struck out Aaron Judge to get the Indians out of the inning. The Yankees had a five-run lead and things were feeling very good in the Bronx.
The top of the 4th seemed to be going Severino’s way when he recorded two quick outs but then he walked Jay Bruce. Carlos Santana made Sevy pay for it with a two-run homer to center into Monument Park to cut the lead to 5-2. A coaching visit to the mound by pitching coach Larry Rothschild, which often prove to be unsuccessful, worked this time as Sevy was able to retire Michael Brantley on a line out to center.
The Indians closed the gap to two runs in the top of the 5th when Roberto Perez hit a one-out home run into the right field seats, making it 5-3. Despite the home runs, Severino had seven strikeouts up to that point.
In the bottom of the 5th, the Yankees added an insurance run. Todd Frazier led off with a slow roller back toward the pitcher. Danny Salazar’s throw to first hit the ground and sailed past the first baseman, allowing Frazier to race to second. A ground out to first by Aaron Hicks moved Frazier to third. Francona came out and signaled for his lefty, Tyler Olson, to replace Salazar to face Brett Gardner. Gardy hit a fly to shallow center that didn’t look like it would be deep enough, but Frazier challenged the arm of center fielder Jason Kipnis (normally the team’s second baseman) and won, scoring on the sacrifice.
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Another pitching change, this time bringing in Bryan Shaw, saw another strikeout of Aaron Judge to end the inning.
Gary Sanchez padded the lead with his one-out home run to right, barely missing the second deck, in the bottom of the 6th. The Sanchino! The four-run lead gave the team much needed breathing room.
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With Sevy still going strong, the Yankees had an opportunity for more runs in the bottom of the 7th. The Indians inserted their closer Cody Allen a little early (the benefit of having the very versatile Andrew Miller on the roster). Things didn’t go Allen’s way when Aaron Hicks reached second base, thanks to a one-out fielding error by first baseman Carlos Santana (hard grounder bounced off his glove into right field). Brett Gardner singled to right, moving Hicksie to third. Gardy took second on the high throw in from the outfield. But they would not advance any further when Aaron Judge struck out and Didi Gregorius popped out to short to leave the runners stranded.
Dellin Betances took over for Severino in the top of the 8th and unfortunately things did not go well for the tall right-hander. He walked Yan Gomes (after nearly taking his head off with one errant pitch), bringing pitching coach Larry Rothschild to the mound. Like it usually happens when Rothschild visits, it didn’t work. The inconsistent Betances walked Francisco Lindor on four straight pitches which ended his latest appearance. It was very disappointing to see Betances continue his struggles with control, which makes him very unreliable moving forward.
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Tommy Kahnle came into the game, and did the job Betances was once so good at…he retired the three batters he faced, two by strikeout.
Josh Tomlin took over for Cody Allen in the bottom of the 8th and easily discharged the Yankees to push the game to the 9th. Tommy Kahnle returned to the mound to face Carlos Santana, Michael Brantley, and Lonnie Chisenhall. Kahnle rose to the challenge and struck out the side with Chisenhall missing on his swing for the final out. The Yankees win!
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Nice job by Luis Severino who finished with nine strikeouts in seven innings of work. Four hits, three runs (on the two homers), and one walk. It wasn’t perfect but he held the Indians down while the Yankees took advantage of the three Cleveland errors to score six of their seven runs. Granted, Cleveland’s lineup is not the same without Edwin Encarnacion but they are more than capable of erasing leads quickly. Sevy did not allow it to happen. Dellin Betances tried but Tommy Kahnle saved him from himself.
Chase Headley’s performance (0-for-4 with three strikeouts) has me wondering if it might not be time for Matt Holliday’s name to be penciled in at DH. Aaron Judge’s first hit of the series was a big one with the two RBI’s in the second inning, while Gary Sanchez’s homer seemed to help suck the life out of the Tribe.
The series now moves to the decisive Game 5 at Progressive Field in Cleveland. Prior to yesterday’s game, Joe Girardi announced that CC Sabathia (14-5, 3.69 ERA) would be the starter, not Sonny Gray. Sabathia returns to the site where it all began for him so many years ago. Corey Kluber (18-4, 2.25 ERA) will be seeking redemption in front of his home fans after giving up six runs in his last start. The Yankees have a huge challenge before them, but the pay off is a road trip to Houston, Texas for the ALCS. Win or lose, this has been a great year for the Yankees. The team has heart and they do not quit.
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The Houston Astros overcame the Boston Red Sox, 5-4, to win their ALDS, three games to one. There was some satisfaction when former Yankee Carlos Beltran provided what would prove to be the winning run when he delivered an RBI double in the top of the 9th. Red Sox third baseman Rafael Devers had an inside-the-park home run in the bottom of the 9th but it was not enough as the Astros overcame both Chris Sale (in relief) and Craig Kimbrel for the win.
Odds & Ends…
I figured there would be defections from the Yankees organization to join Derek Jeter in Miami but I didn’t think they would happen so quickly. George A King III of the New York Post reported yesterday, via Twitter, that it was Gary Denbo’s last day with the Yankees. The former VP of Player Development will become the director of player development and scouting for the Marlins. A self-avowed non-fan of Derek Jeter, I am starting to actually dislike the guy. This was certainly one of the risks when Jeter’s group won the bid for the Marlins and Denbo’s defection may not be the last. If for whatever reason the Yankees do not ink GM Brian Cashman and/or Manager Joe Girardi to new deals, the Yankees front office could have have substantially different look in 2018. I thought it was very poor taste for Denbo to leave prior to the conclusion of the post-season but then again, if he didn’t want to be here, good riddance.
Former Yankee pitching prospect Rookie Davis underwent hip surgery on his right hip to repair the labrum and remove a bone spur. It is a significant procedure and Davis will not be ready by the time training camp opens next spring. Davis was traded to the Cincinnati Reds, along with Eric Jagielo, Caleb Cotham and Tony Renda, in the 2015 trade that brought Aroldis Chapman to the Yankees. Only Davis and Jagielo remain in the Reds organization. Cotham retired in March and Renda was traded to the Arizona Diamondbacks in July. We send best wishes for a full and speedy recovery to Davis.
Have a great Tuesday! We have a day to enjoy and get ready for Game 5! Thumbs down! Let’s do this. Go Yankees!