|Credit: Daniel Decker Photography|
After two successive weekends starting with a bang (first the word about Aaron Boone’s hiring as the replacement for Joe Girardi and then the stunning deal that brought the great Giancarlo Stanton to the Bronx), we enter this weekend on a quiet note.
There have been rumors for days (actually the ongoing discussions have lasted for years) the Yankees have been talking to the Pittsburgh Pirates about starter Gerrit Cole. Personally, I am in favor of Cole’s acquisition. I know, he basically sucked last year. 12-12, 4.26 ERA. 31 home runs allowed. It was easily his worst season and he is now a couple of seasons removed from his dominant 19-win 2015 season. You’d be bringing him into the pressurized AL East which isn’t going to help anybody’s ERA, particularly for a pitcher prone to give up the long ball. But maybe I continue to see the upside of the pitcher and feel that he can be an effective middle-of-the-rotation starter. There’s the intangible that he was a childhood Yankees fan so it’s possible that he could have the reverse Ivan Nova effect (pitching much better in New York than Pittsburgh). I know, that one is a stretch but I’d really like to see what pitching coach Larry Rothschild could do with Cole’s arm.
|Credit: Charles Wenzelberg, NY Post|
The issue, of course, is cost. Any trade is almost certain to be headlined by outfielder Clint Frazier. The Pirates will also demand a top pitching prospect in a deal that would most likely cost the Yankees at least four young promising players. Many believe that Chance Adams may be better suited for relief and I’ve heard concerns about the at-times violent delivery of Justus Sheffield (and concerns about his durability). Between the two, I’d probably be more willing to sacrifice Adams although I have enjoyed his progression through the Yankees farm system. I saw one Pirates blog clamoring for Jordan Montgomery. That’s a deal-breaker for me. I would not include Montgomery under any circumstances with the concerns that accompany Cole. I have a tough time justifying Frazier but the Yankees have an abundance of outfielders and Frazier is better suited for left field than center. Until they can clear out room by trading Jacoby Ellsbury (please!) or Brett Gardner, there’s simply no room for Frazier. The job of fourth or fifth outfielder can easily be handled by Jake Cave or Billy McKinney, with Estevan Florial a season or two away. Pittsburgh wants to contend again by 2019 so they are not going to settle for Single-A prospects or guys with no potential to reach the bigs until after 2020. This is a dilemma and I am sure that’s a primary reason the talks have gone on for so long with no resolution.
I know everyone prefers Michael Fulmer of the Detroit Tigers but there’s no indication that the Tigers are willing to trade Fulmer. Even if Fulmer was available, I think the cost would be substantially greater than what it would or should take to get Cole.
We know that the Boston Red Sox will respond to the Yankees addition of Giancarlo Stanton. They’ve been rumored for weeks to be the possible destination for both first baseman Eric Hosmer and outfielder J.D. Martinez. With their pitching staff (assuming that David Price can return to ace status), they will be strong contenders for the AL East championship next season. I was glad to see one possible fallback option eliminated yesterday when former Cleveland Indians slugger Carlos Santana signed with the Philadelphia Phillies. Martinez has indicated he wants to play the outfield and at the moment, the Red Sox outfield is full with Mookie Betts (arguably one of the best players in MLB), Jackie Bradley Jr, and Andrew Benintendi. It’s possible the Sox could trade JBJ but he’s one of the best defensive centerfielders in the league. Neither Benintendi nor Betts are going anywhere. Therefore, I hope Martinez continues to take a stand against becoming a full-time DH.
The trades of Chase Headley and Starlin Castro opened starting roles for the Yankees at second and third. At the moment, Gleyber Torres is destined to take second. However, there is greater value in starting him at Triple A to open the season for a few weeks to delay his free agency by a year so it makes more sense to use the combo of Ronald Torreyes and Tyler Wade to man the position until Torres is ready. At third, Miguel Andujar is presently at the front of the line although I still suspect the Yankees will acquire a short-term veteran. This one is tough. I’d love to see the Yankees bring Todd Frazier back on a two-year deal, but the Yankees are probably looking at no more than one year which is not in sync with the player. One possible destination for Frazier was eliminated yesterday when the Los Angeles Angels signed Zack Cozart, former shortstop for the Cincinnati Reds, to play third (Andrelton Simmons is entrenched at short and the Angels just acquired second baseman Ian Kinsler from the Tigers). I keep hoping that the price tag for Frazier drops low enough for the Yankees to grab him but that’s not something that I am counting on. I guess the Yankees need to find their next Scott Brosius off some unsuspecting MLB roster.
If anything is going to happen, it will probably be next week. Otherwise, I don’t see any significant baseball activity until after the first of the year.
I am sure that GM Brian Cashman and company are hard at work as I type this post.
Hopefully there is a quality starting pitcher out there who dreams of joining Luis Severino, Masahiro Tanaka, Sonny Gray, and Jordan Montgomery. Run support may not have been Gray’s friend in 2017 but in 2018, I don’t think it’s going to be a problem. As a pitcher, I’d love to be backed by a lineup that features Aaron Judge, Giancarlo Stanton, Gary Sanchez, Greg Bird, Didi Gregorius, Aaron Hicks, Brett Gardner and others. They’ll just have to get used to the extended wait between innings while the Yankees are batting.
Oakland A’s Outfielder Sues the White Sox…
Former Yankees outfielder Dustin Fowler has sued the Chicago White Sox and the state agency that manages Guaranteed Rate Field (Illinois Sports Facilities Authority) as a result of the devastating knee injury he suffered in his Yankees debut last summer in Chicago. The suit, filed in the Cook County Circuit Court, claims the White Sox and the state agency acted negligently by not securing the knee-level electrical box that Fowler collided against when he hit the low side of the wall chasing a fly ball in foul territory. The suit indicates by failing to pad, guard or cover the electrical box, the defendants showed “an utter indifference to or conscious disregard” for Fowler’s safety.
|Credit: Pete Caldera, NJ.com|
Fowler, part of the trade that brought Sonny Gray to New York, is expected to be ready for A’s training camp next spring but time will tell if the knee injury has lasting ramifications on the former Yankee’s career. I agree that the parties at Guaranteed Rate Field should be held liable. At the time of the injury, then Yankees manager Joe Girardi was very critical of the exposed electrical box. It is a hazard that could have been prevented.
I wish Fowler the best with his suit and hope that he is able to reach the potential and stardom that he seemed destined for prior to the injury.
The Tampa Yankees are no more…
I will miss the “TY” logo as the Yankees’ High-A affiliate have changed their name to the Tampa Tarpons. I immediately saw tweets about tampons after the announcement of the name change, but the Tarpons name has history in Tampa. It was the name of a previous Florida State League team for over thirty years. The old Tarpons club was sold and relocated in 1988. The new team was placed in Tampa by the Yankees in 1994. Welcome back, Tarpons!
I am sure the Tampa Bay Rays are glad to see the removal of “Yankees” from the Tampa name even if the minor league team remains affiliated with the Pinstripes.
Speaking of the Tampa Tarpons, I continue to hope that their manager, Jay Bell, is named as Al Pedrique’s replacement at Triple A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre although former Yankees coach Tony Pena would probably be a very solid option too.
59 days to Spring Training. Go Yankees!
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Indians 5, Yankees 1…
Actually, Sonny Gray pitched very well. Sadly, he had no support from Yankees team offense or defense. Todd Frazier made his Yankee Stadium debut by hitting into a triple play, but Gray topped him, admittedly through no fault of his own, as three first inning defensive errors led to an early 2-0 Indians lead as the Tribe sailed to the easy victory.
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|Credit: Brian Spurlock-USA TODAY Sports|
|Credit: Chuck Crow-The Plain Dealer|
|Credit: Chuck Crow-The Plain Dealer|
According to MLB.com, OF Dustin Fowler ranks as the Oakland A’s third best top prospect, while SS/OF Jorge Mateo is #5 and RHP James Kaprielian is #11. Fowler will be given every opportunity to break camp next Spring with the A’s as their starting center fielder. I guess we are going to be “Ben Gameled” quite often in the future.
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Speaking of top prospects, 2B Nick Solak is now in the Top 10 for the Yankees (according to MLB.com) and seems to be shooting through the system. He was called up to the Double A Trenton Thunder a couple of days ago from the High A Tampa Yankees. For Tampa, the 22 year old Solak hit .301/.397/.460 with 10 HR’s and 44 RBI’s. He also had 17 doubles and 13 steals. Solak was the Yankees’ 2nd round pick in the 2016 MLB Draft.
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The Yankees should be getting some help soon. Aaron Hicks is currently on rehab assignment at Scranton/Wilkes-Barre. He is 2-for-6 in two games, with an extra base hit and a run scored. Greg Bird is traveling with the team and slowly beginning baseball activities. There’s hope that he can return by early September. Starlin Castro will soon begin a running program as he recovers from the hamstring strain that landed him on the DL.
Have a great Friday! Here’s hoping for better results with Jaime Garcia’s Yankees debut. Go Yankees!
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Yankees 13, Astros 4…
I have to admit that I thought Friday night’s game against the Astros was going to be a struggle. The Yankees did not arrive in Houston until 6 am after playing and the losing the rain-delayed game in Chicago the night before. They arrived deep in the heart of Texas to play MLB’s best team and were scheduled to face the very tough Lance McCullers, Jr, the son of a former Yankee. It was noted before the game that McCullers had not given up more than three runs in any of his home starts this year. Against the Yankees, he was 2-0 with 0.75 ERA since 2016. Fortunately, the Yankees came together as a team…as they’ve frequently done this year…and came away with the decisive victory.
Early on, it looked like it was going to be another struggle for runs that would potentially come up short. The Astros scored their first run in the bottom of the inning when George Springer led off with a double against Yankees starter Michael Pineda. He moved to third on a ground out and scored on a sac fly by All-Star second baseman Jose Altuve.
The Yankees picked up a run to tie the game in the third. Brett Gardner led off with a double when the ball dropped in despite a running dive by Astros right fielder Josh Reddick. It looked like McCullers might escape when he struck out the next two batters, but Didi Gregorius doubled down the first base line to score Gardy.
The Yankees had two runners in scoring position in the top of the 4th with no outs. Unfortunately, both Tyler Wade and Chris Carter struck out. The inning was over when the runner on third, Austin Romine, attempted to score on a wild pitch. Nice trick slide though as Romine tried unsuccessfully to evade the tag.
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In the bottom of the 4th, the Astros led off with two singles. A throwing error by right fielder Tyler Wade put runners at second and third. After former Yankee Brian McCann struck out, another former Yankee, Carlos Beltran, hit into a ground out which scored the lead runner. Marwin Gonzalez followed with a single to score a run and the Astros led, 3-1. With McCullers Jr pitching well, it looked like it would be difficult to make a comeback.
But the light at the end of tunnel occurred in the sixth inning. Didi Gregorius opened with a single. After Chase Headley struck out, Austin Romine walked and the Astros made a pitching change. They brought in Michael Feliz to replace McCullers Jr. Ronald Torreyes greeted Feliz with a single to left, scoring Gregorius. Tyler Wade struck out for the second out, but Chris Carter, Brett Gardner, and Jacoby Ellsbury followed with run-scoring singles to put the Yankees up, 5-3. A fielding error allowed Gardy to advance to 3rd. He scored the fifth and final run of the inning when Feliz threw a wild pitch. 6-3, Yankees. I really hated to see Feliz go but the Astros brought in Reymin Guduan and he secured the final out.
|Credit: Karen Warren-Houston Chronicle|
Nevertheless, the 7th brought more Yankee offense. Chase Headley and Austin Romine opened with singles, and Ronald Torreyes walked to load the bases. Tyler Wade hit a grounder that erased Headley at home and Chris Carter (wait for it) struck out. So, with two outs and the bases loaded, Brett Gardner, who largely struggled during the month of June, came to the plate. On a 3-2 count, Gardy put one over the right center field wall for the grand slam (his 15th homer of the year, and just two away from his career high).
|Credit: Bob Levey-Getty Images|
With the seven run lead, Michael Pineda’s night was finished. Much better results than the last time Pineda faced a Texas team. Pineda (8-4) went 6 innings and allowed 7 hits, 3 runs (2 earned), and struck out 3. He didn’t walk anybody and more importantly, he didn’t give up any home runs. It wasn’t a perfect outing but he gave the Yankees exactly what they needed…a fighting chance until the offense got untracked.
The Astros picked up a meaningless run in the 8th when Josh Reddick opened with a double and advanced to third on a throwing error by Jacoby Ellsbury. He scored when Jose Altuve grounded out. Despite a subsequent single allowed, Bryan Mitchell, who had relieved Pineda in the 7th, was able to get out of the inning without any further damage.
The Yankees tacked on three more runs in the 9th. Ronald Torreyes and Tyler Wade both walked. Chris Carter struc…I mean…doubled to score Torreyes. Brett Gardner lofted a sac fly to right to score Wade, his 6th RBI of the game. Jacoby Ellsbury hit into a groundout, scoring Carter. The runs gave the Yankees the final margin of victory, 13-4. Bryan Mitchell set down the Astros in order in the bottom of the ninth to earn his first save of the season. Great job by Mitchell to protect the bullpen and to keep the Astros down.
The Boston Red Sox defeated the Toronto Blue Jays, 7-4, in 11 innings, so the Yankees (43-35) remain one game behind in the AL East Standings. The Tampa Bay Rays also won in extra innings (6-4 over the Baltimore Orioles) so they are still 3 games behind the Yankees.
This was a great team victory.
|Ronald Torreyes, the “Tall” One…
Credit: Karen Warren-Houston Chronicle
Odds & Ends…
All of our hearts are with Yankees outfielder Dustin Fowler as he begins his recovery from knee surgery on Thursday night. It will be a long, hard road of recovery and rehabilitation. It’s been reported that he’ll be on crutches for three months before he begins physical therapy. Everyone is hopeful that he’ll be ready by the time training camp in Tampa opens next February. I thought it was cool the team had a face-time call with Fowler in Joe Girardi’s office before yesterday’s game.
In the aftermath of Fowler’s devastating injury, the Yankees made a few expected moves on Friday. With the placement of Fowler on the 10-Day DL and the demotion of Ronald Herrera to Triple A, the Yankees recalled RHP Bryan Mitchell and 3B Miguel Andujar. For Andujar, he returns as a Major League Vet albeit with just one game under his belt. But it will be hard for him to match that terrific first impression (3 hits, 4 ribbies). I hope his defense is ready to play at the MLB level. I’d like to see him get a few turns at third as an alternative to Chase Headley and Ronald Torreyes. I am glad to see that Mitchell is back. He is a Major League pitcher that just gets caught in the numbers game. But he’s always been one of my favorites. Best of luck…and health…to both men.
Clint Frazier, according to multiple reports, will be called up today for his first trip to the big leagues. I was surprised when the Yankees recalled Miguel Andujar after previously saying they wanted him to get more reps at third. Nothing against Andujar and of course he had the greatest possible MLB debt performance, but the Yankees have a greater need in the outfield. Rob Refsnyder is not the right answer to rotate with Brett Gardner, Jacoby Ellsbury and Aaron Judge (keeping those guys fresh). I’ve heard the most likely candidate to be sent down will be reliever Bryan Mitchell who made an extended appearance in last night’s game in relief of Michael Pineda. I assume that Andujar is another potential candidate for the trip to Scranton, PA. He was a convenient call-up for the Yankees following Fowler’s injury because he was still in Chicago. Frazier will be the 10th Yankee to make his MLB debut this year (counting Fowler’s very brief appearance).
|Credit: J Conrad Williams, Jr|
CC Sabathia pitched a simulated game on Thursday and is expecting to make his next start. I assume that Luis Cessa will be return to Scranton when Sabathia is activated off the DL. Still no word about Matt Holliday as tests continue. This is a bit frightening, to say the least. I really hope this is not something more serious than we’ve been led to believe. Tyler Clippard was away from the team on Friday to attend his grandmother’s funeral. He is expected back today.
Have a great Saturday! Even better if the Yankees can pull out a second victory against a very tough Astros squad. Let’s Go Yankees!
Brian Cashman on Line 3…
The Yankees were very busy on Thursday and that was before game time. Normally, I lead with the day’s prior game but today I wanted to catch my breath from the flurry of activity that took place yesterday.
On Wednesday night, Miguel Andujar, penciled in at DH as a fill-in for the DL’d Matt Holliday, had one of the greatest Major League debuts in franchise history. For all I know, it may have been the best, outperforming many of the legends that have called Yankee Stadium home. He went 3-for-4 with 4 RBI’s and a stolen base. Thursday rolls around and he’s flying from Chicago to Syracuse, New York to catch up with the Scranton/Wilkes-Barre RailRiders on the road.
I get the logic. The Yankees want Andujar to focus on third base with regular playing time. There’s no doubt he’ll be back but it must have been tough celebrating Major League success for the first time, followed by a tap on the shoulder that the manager wanted to talk to you…and oh yeah, bring your bags.
Coming the other way is first baseman Chris Carter. I think @BronxPinstripes said it best on Twitter the other day when they said Carter would be back faster than you could say ‘Strike 3’. Sad but true. With the placement of Tyler Austin on the disabled list (hamstring), the Yankees needed a true first baseman. Austin Romine has done a good job and I’m sure he’ll remain in the mix, but I guess we need to get prepared for more whiffs in big spots.
To make room for Carter, the Yankees moved Greg Bird to the 60-Day Disabled List which is probably a light indication we may not see Bird again this year.
The Yankees also recalled outfielder Dustin Fowler to replace Andujar. I wondered what was up with Fowler. Wednesday night, I was seeing tweets about how Fowler was a no-show for the RailRiders’ double-header. No reason was given and when Manager Al Pedrique was asked about it after the games, he said that there would be clarity on Thursday. Early Thursday, the news was breaking that Fowler was on his way to Chicago to meet up with the Yankees. Obviously, the Yankees must have called the RailRiders to tell them to pull Fowler from games. It must be tough to be a Triple A manager. Things are going great and out of nowhere, your best players get plucked off your roster so you’re left to pillage Double A. I don’t dispute calling up Fowler. There is a greater outfield need right now and there’s no way I’d put all my chips on Jacoby Ellsbury. It’s unfortunate for Andujar but it would have been a good opportunity for Fowler. More on Fowler later.
Since Fowler was not on the 40-man roster, someone had to be voted off the island. Unfortunately, the loser was one-time top prospect Mason Williams. As an older prospect that never took advantage of opportunities, he was deemed expendable in an organization filled with outstanding outfield prospects. I know these moves are as much about preparing for the December Rule 5 Draft as they are for helping the team play the White Sox and the Astros. It will be interesting to see if the Yankees can trade Williams or if they lose him for nothing. I don’t really see him accepting an outright assignment to Triple A but I could be wrong. If it were me, I’d try to catch on with an organization running a little thin with outfielders. Excuse me, Brian Sabean, can we talk? Fowler represents the ninth Yankee making his MLB debut this year. Gleyber Torres, why, oh why, did you make that slide?…
Busy, busy day.
White Sox 4, Yankees 3…
The exciting MLB debut for Dustin Fowler ended as horrifically as one could imagine. On his first play in the first inning, Fowler ruptured the patella tendon in his right knee when he tried to make a running catch into foul territory to catch a fly ball and collided with the low right field foul wall. I had been worried about Fowler going into this game. Delayed by rain, the game didn’t begin play until 10 pm Central (which would have been 11 pm for Fowler having just flown in from Syracuse, New York). The late, wet conditions set a horrible stage for Fowler’s debut. I felt the game should have been called, particularly considering the Yankees had to fly to Houston, Texas to play another game today at 5:10 pm Central. It was a very unfortunate situation for Fowler, who is out for the season.
|Credit: Patrick Gorski-AP|
The Yankees are now be faced with yet another roster move. Rob Refsnyder, who replaced Fowler in right field, dropped a fly ball that should have been caught which allowed the White Sox to score a run in the bottom of the 2nd inning. No offense to Refsnyder but the Yankees need better help in the outfield. It will be interesting to see if the Yankees make another adjustment with the 40-man roster to recall Clint Frazier.
The Yankees scored first in the top of the first inning before the Fowler injury in the bottom half. Following an infield single by Brett Gardner and a walk by Aaron Judge, Didi Gregorius grounded into a fielder’s choice to first but Jose Abreu’s throw to second glanced off Judge’s left shoulder and went into left field. Gardner scored on the play.
In the bottom of the second, the White Sox scored two runs to take the lead. The first run, courtesy of Refsnyder’s error. Adam Engel, who hit the two-out fly ball that Refsnyder dropped, scored the go-ahead run when the next batter, Omar Narvaez, singled to left.
The Yankees tied the game in the fourth. Ronald Torreyes lined a single to deep left with runners at first and second, scoring the lead runner (Jacoby Ellsbury). But the White Sox quickly answered in the bottom half of the inning. Yolmer Sanchez walked to start the inning for the White Sox. Adam Engel was hit by a pitch with one out to put runners at first and second. Omar Narvaez grounded out to first, but the runners advanced a base. Willy Garcia brought both runners home with a double to deep left and the White Sox led, 4-2.
The Yankees scored their final run in the sixth when Jacoby Ellsbury led off with a triple. He scored when Austin Romine hit into a ground out at short. Unfortunately, the Yankees were unable to complete the rally. They had the right opportunity in the ninth with Aaron Judge at the plate and Brett Gardner on first with two outs, but White Sox closer David Robertson struck out Judge to end the game.
I am sure it was a very long flight from Chicago to Houston.
This was a sickening loss. The long-term health of Dustin Fowler is the primary concern. But these were very difficult circumstances for the Yankees to play and a game that I felt should not have been played. The cost was far too great. If the Yankees play sluggishly today, who can blame them. With the loss, the Yankees (42-35) fell one game behind the Boston Red Sox. The Red Sox beat the Minnesota Twins 6-3. The Tampa Bay Rays lost 4-0 to the Pittsburgh Pirates so they are three games behind the Yankees.
Luis Cessa (0-3) was the hard luck loser. He pitched 4 2/3 innings, with a whopping 89 pitches, allowing 5 hits, 4 runs (2 unearned thanks to the Refsnyder error), 3 walks, and struck out 1. If there is a positive, the Yankees bullpen threw 3 1/3 innings of scoreless relief which included an inning by Tyler Clippard. The pitcher, who has been very erratic of late, struck out the side in the bottom of the 7th.
I hope Brian Cashman gets to the office early today. He has much work to do.
Oh well, on to Houston and MLB’s best team, the Astros. It doesn’t get any easier.
Next Up: Houston Astros at Minute Maid Park in Houston, Texas…
Here are the scheduled pitching match-ups:
Yankees: Michael Pineda (7-4, 4.12 ERA)
Astros: Lance McCullers, Jr. (7-1, 2.53 ERA)
Yankees: Jordan Montgomery (6-4, 3.53 ERA)
Astros: Francis Martes (2-0, 5.51 ERA)
Yankees: Luis Severino (5-3, 3.15 ERA)
Astros: Mike Fiers (5-3, 3.98 ERA)
Odds & Ends…
Another former Yankee has found his way to the unemployment line. The Atlanta Braves have designated 44-year-old Bartolo Colon for assignment. I really hope the Yankees do not to take a flyer. Let him go back to the Mets.
Have a great Friday! Today has to be better than yesterday. Let’s Go Yankees!
It’s tough to follow a game that you should have won with a dull, listless performance. So it was for the Yankees as they fell 7-1 to the AL cellar rats, the Toronto Blue Jays. To the Blue Jays credit, they are now on a three-game winning streak and have held their opponents to a single run in each of those victories. It was just a matter of time before the Blue Jays started playing like the team many predicted to contend for the AL East and unfortunately the Yankees may have run into them at the wrong time.
Luis Severino, after his brilliant performance in Boston, let the bottom of Toronto’s batting order do the damage. In the second inning, he allowed a two-run homer to the number seven hitter, shortstop Ryan Goins, who is subbing for the injured Troy Tulowitzki. It would be the only runs Toronto would need on a quiet night for Yankee bats. Severino allowed another home run in the sixth inning to the number nine hitter, third baseman Chris Coghlan, a fill-in for the injured Josh Donaldson. Severino (2-2) lasted 5 2/3 innings, giving up 8 hits and 5 runs. He walked two and struck out 3.
Credit: Kathy Willens/AP
Reliever Luis Cessa took one for the team and finished the remaining 3 1/3 innings to provide rest for the weary Yankees bullpen. He did give up a two-run shot to Jose Bautista in the seventh inning but was otherwise effective.
Jacoby Ellsbury made a great play in the sixth inning with a leaping catch of a potential double. His momentum carried him into the centerfield wall. A runner on third scored on the sac fly, but then Ellsbury overthrew Aaron Judge on an attempt to get the ball back into the infield which allowed a runner on second to also score.
Greg Bird is lost at the plate. His latest 0-for-4 performance dropped his batting average to an even .100. He left 5 men on base. The Yankees continue to give him chances to turn it around, but when is enough? I’ve been in Bird’s corner but at some point, he needs to figure this out at Scranton/Wilkes-Barre, not New York, in order to restore his confidence. I had thought he was getting better swings in recent days but the results are not there. I am not ready to say ‘send him down today’ but it is probably not going to take too many more games of hitless results.
It was just one of those games. The Yankees have struggled against the Blue Jays in recent years as they are just 13-26 against Toronto since the start of the 2015 season. The loss dropped the Yankees (15-9) one game behind the Baltimore Orioles in the AL East. The O’s beat the Boston Red Sox 5-2 on Monday night to recapture sole possession of first place. But today, yesterday means nothing. The Yankees can still take this series and it starts today with timely hitting and precision pitching.
Prior to the game, the Yankees recalled Cessa to provide long relief insurance and optioned reliever Bryan Mitchell to Scranton/Wilkes-Barre. Brendan Kuty of NJ.com had the best Twitter line: “Mitchell will likely share 1B duties with Refsnyder and Choi” in reference to Mitchell’s one inning of work at first base on Sunday. Too funny!
With no offense to Jorge Mateo, my personal favorite for the future of center field at Yankee Stadium had quite a game on Sunday. Dustin Fowler, a strong candidate to eventually unseat Jacoby Ellsbury, hit for the cycle as the Scranton/Wilkes-Barre RailRiders defeated the Indianapolis Indians (the Pittsburgh Pirates’ top farm club), 7-6.
In the bottom of the 11th inning, Fowler capped his memorable day with a walk-off home run, completing the cycle. For the game, the 22-year-old went 5-for-6 with 2 runs scored and 2 RBI’s. For the season, Fowler is batting .293 (24-for-82), 4 home runs, and 12 RBI’s. He is second on the team with a .914 OPS. He has also stolen two bases.
1st Inning: Tripled to right.
3rd Inning: Grounded out to third.
5th Inning: Doubled to right, scoring Tyler Wade.
7th Inning: Singled to center.
9th Inning: Doubled to right.
11th Inning: Homered to right, no one on…RailRiders win!
It may have taken two extra innings, but what a way to cap hitting for the cycle! Congrats to Fowler for the terrific game. I look forward to the day when he is doing this in the Bronx.
Credit: Times Leader
I am a Yankees Homer but I can’t predict an AL championship for the Yankees yet. Granted, the team finished the month of April in a first-place tie with the Baltimore Orioles, but it’s still a very long season. The Yankees had a chance to bury the Orioles on Sunday and couldn’t do it. The ebbs and flows the season will ultimately predict the final standings. Let’s see how the team handles its first real stretch of difficulty. With the Chicago Cubs and Houston Astros looming on the horizon, adversity is on its way. The last time catcher Gary Sanchez started a game, the Yankees were 1-4. So let’s not start printing World Series tickets just yet. Through May 1st last year, the Yankees were 8-15. This season, they are 15-9 through the same date. If they finish the season, from this point forward, with the same number of wins and losses as last year, they are a 90-win team. I think this team can contend for a Wild Card spot but I am not ready to anoint them as potential division champions. I still expect Boston to play much better as the season progresses, particularly if they get David Price back. And I’ve learned to never underestimate Buck Showalter and the Baltimore Orioles. The charging Blue Jays also have the Yankees’ number. If the Yankees are still slugging it out for first place at the All-Star Break, then I’ll reconsider my forecast. But for now, I still feel the best case scenario is a Wild Card slot with the division championship a season or two away.
Have a great Tuesday! Today is a new day…time to beat these pesky Jays!
Prior to the season, I was saying the Yankees should move veteran outfielder Brett Gardner. Now, fourteen games into the 2017 season, I am more convinced than ever he should be moved. Granted, it is not his fault that he turns 34 on August 24th (I personally blame his parents) but he does not fit into the long-term view for the new and improved New York Yankees.
For the season, Gardner is batting .205 with no home runs or RBI’s. He has stolen five bags but all things considered, his production is replaceable. The Yankees need to find room to consistently start fourth outfielder Aaron Hicks. Hicks, 27, has shown he can be a productive hitter when he regularly knows that he’ll be in the lineup. For the season, Hicks has much better numbers than Gardner (outside of the total stolen bases). Hicks has received 15 less at-bats than Gardner but only has two less hits. Hicks has three home runs on the year, with eight RBI’s. His two stolen base attempts ended in failure but regardless, Hicks has been the better player. Even though he hasn’t put up the numbers for AAA Scranton/Wilkes Barre-Barre this month, I think Mason Williams, 25, is a very capable fourth outfielder.
I would love to unload center fielder Jacoby Ellsbury but with his contract, he’s not going anywhere. We’re four years into his 7-year, $153 million contract and at this point, there’s nothing he can do for redemption (at least not in my eyes). He is what he is, and he’ll never be more, and he’ll never be that dude who tore up the league for the Boston Red Sox in 2011. That was his Brady Anderson year. Chained to Ellsbury for the foreseeable future, it means that Hicks would need to play either left or right. Aaron Judge is the awakening Giant in right so he’s not going anywhere. That only leaves left field. It makes the most sense to move Gardner and begin the outfield youth movement with full intensity. Gardner’s been a good Yankee so slap him on the back, give him a watch, and send him on his way.
I suppose the opposing point of view is that Ellsbury will be hurt at some point and it will be necessary to slide Gardner to center, creating a left field opening. At some point this season, the Yankees need to begin placing higher value in Dustin Fowler as the center fielder of the future unless they plan to discard Fowler (a mistake in my opinion) to make way for Jorge Mateo. I wish Mateo was closer to the Majors so that he could force a competition but at this point, Fowler will be ready much sooner. Since Mateo is still learning the position, he is much further behind Fowler than just levels in the Minor Leagues.
I wouldn’t want to over-expose Matt Holliday but he could still play left occasionally in a pinch. As former Yankee Lee Mazzilli once said (regrettably), “Left field is a position for idiots”. Not trying to demean the position, but there are others in the organization that can play the position as back up for Hicks, Ellsbury, and Judge. There always seems to be fourth outfielders readily available as free agents or ones that could easily (and cheaply) be had. I am not worried about the outfield depth. As we move deeper and deeper into the season, guys like Clint Frazier move closer to potential callups.
It’s time to move Gardy. Maybe not this exact minute but no later than July if not sooner.
Now that I’ve ripped Gardner for the day, he will probably go on a hitting tear.
Why is it that the best Yankees beat writers always move on? I remember loving the work of Peter Abraham on the LoHud Yankees Blog, and these days he is a Red Sox beat writer for the Boston Globe. I get it, he’s a Boston guy so it was an opportunity to go home. Then, I loved reading Mark Feinsand of the New York Daily News and listening to his podcasts. Now, he is a writer for MLB.com writing about, Egads!, other teams. Or Marc Carig of The Star Ledger moving from the Yankees to the Mets. Next, you’ll probably tell me that Brendan Kuty or Bryan Hoch have found other things they’d like to do. Sorry, just my rant about losing Feinsand. I enjoyed his time as the Yankees beat writer for the Daily News.
The win streak ends at eight. Bummer. Usually, when a starting pitcher goes eight innings and only allows three hits and strikes out ten, the end result is a win. But on a night when the other team’s starter was a wee bit better and the Yankee bats were quiet, Luis Severino took the loss as the Yankees fell to the Chicago White Sox, 4-1. The Yankees had a chance at the end with the winning run at the plate, but Aaron Judge grounded into a force out to end the game. A grand slam would have been so cool at that moment.
The Yanks still have the chance to take the series when the teams meet for the third and final time this evening.
Tuesday evening turned out to be a double loss as top prospect Gleyber Torres was scratched from the lineup for AA Trenton Thunder due to biceps tendonitis. He will undergo a MRI to determine the extent of the injury. Hopefully, the news will be favorable.
James Kaprielian underwent successful Tommy John surgery on Tuesday, so now the long road to recovery begins.
Have a great Wednesday! I think it’s time to start a new winning streak!
The Bryce is Right…
With Bryce Harper’s free agency still a few seasons away, I am surprised that there is so much discussion about his future (potentially) in pinstripes. So much can happen between now and 2019.
While the Yankees do not have a true superstar at any position except maybe Closer, there’s a wealth of outfield prospects. Aaron Judge has a history of first failing and then massively succeeding at each level. With the initial underwhelming big league performance behind him, the expectation is that he’ll grab right field for years to come. There’s other help on the way for the outfield. With so many talented infield prospects headlined by shortstop (second baseman?) Gleyber Torres, it has been mentioned that shortstop Jorge Mateo’s future is in centerfield. Clint Frazier, a centerfielder, will most likely be moved to a corner outfield position. If each player performs to his respective potential, a trio of Judge, Mateo, and Frazier is very, very solid.
The Yankees also have other young talented outfield prospects. Mason Williams, although injuries have not been his friend. Dustin Fowler is aggressively raising his stock in prospect rankings. Blake Rutherford was a steal in last year’s draft and seems destined for greatness. Billy McKinney is an over-looked, unappreciated talent but he’s opened some eyes this spring.
At face value, Outfield does not appear that it will be a weakness for the team anytime soon. Well, maybe as long as Jacoby Ellsbury is starting in center, but that’s another matter.
Over the last few years, Owner Hal Steinbrenner has evolved the organization from its free-spending ways to financial conservatism. Although the Yankees consistently have one of the highest payrolls in baseball, the payroll has stayed fairly level for a number of years. There’s a genuine opportunity for the Yankees to get under the luxury tax threshold next year. Signing Harper is going to cost a lot of money. Giancarlo Stanton may currently hold baseball’s most lucrative contract, but Harper will surpass Stanton and not by a close margin. Harper could legitimately be baseball’s first $500 million man. More than likely, it will be around $400 million but still, that’s a huge financial commitment for anyone.
Attendance has declined at Yankee Stadium the past few years. With no true superstars in an every day role, the Yankees need players who can not only perform on the field, but can draw fans to the Bronx. Gary Sanchez and Aaron Judge may soon have that dual ability, if the former does not already have it. But signing Bryce Harper, a childhood Yankees fan, would be huge for attendance. His lefty bat, among a sea of righties, would be huge. He’ll only be 26 when he hits free agency so a lengthy obligation would not look as ugly at the end as it did for Alex Rodriguez.
I am a proponent for the Yankees to sign Harper. At some point, the Yankees will have to make a trade for a frontline starting pitcher (or two) and they’ll need to use talented top prospects to make it happen. They can deal from outfield (and infield) strength and bring the necessary help for the rotation. With Masahiro Tanaka’s looming opt-out after the season, the Yankees will need to make trades to supplement the infusion of youth if they are to achieve the championship dreams in a couple of years.
Harper in pinstripes would put the team closer to Championship #28 while boosting gate attendance to help subsidize his enormous contract.
The starting rotation competition…
As the battle for the fourth and fifth spots in the rotation continue, there are some early favorites. I think it’s a given that Luis Severino will take the fourth spot. The team wants him to succeed as a starter. Last year was a disappointment as Severino arrived at training camp in bulked up physical condition and was not able to effectively throw his change up with the same velocity. He has worked this off-season to reduce bulk and to recapture the touch he previously had with the change-up, his third pitch. He may have been winless in starts last year before finding success in the bullpen late in the season, but he deserves another chance. If he is able to throw his three pitches effectively, the results this year will be much better.
Most experts are predicting Chad Green as the other starting option. I know that he had a few good starts last year, but I can’t say I am convinced. I would prefer to see Bryan Mitchell in the rotation over Green. I also like Luis Cessa, but I agree that his ceiling is not that great. I’d love to see Jordan Montgomery excel but I think he needs at least another year in the minors before he is ready. Jon Niese is certainly an option but it’s curious that he has yet to make a spring appearance.
Regardless of who wins the starting spots, it’s a certainty that more than two will have the opportunity to start over the course of the season. I fully expect to see Chance Adams and Dietrich Enns at some point, and September will most likely see James Kaprielian’s first major league start (if it doesn’t happen sooner).
Mayans MC, Santo Padre Charter
Okay, this is a bit off-topic but I am excited about the upcoming Sons of Anarchy spinoff series, Mayans MC.
The latest Kurt Sutter offering will film its pilot this month. There has been no announcement that the FX Network has picked up the series for its fall lineup, but it’s hard to imagine that they would not. The creative team has slowly been announcing its cast members. With each announcement they give a little deeper insight into the show’s storyline. Set in the same mythology as the Sons of Anarchy, the new show will pick up life post-Jax Teller and will be set on the Mexican-California border.
Here is the synopsis released by FX:
Set in the aftermath of Jax Teller’s death at the end of SOA’s seven-season run in 2014, Mayans MC will focus on the struggles of Ezekiel “EZ” Reyes, a prospect in the Mayan MC charter on the California/Mexico border. EZ is the gifted son of a proud Latino family, whose American dream was snuffed out by cartel violence. Now, his need for vengeance drives him toward a life he never intended and can never escape.
When I first heard about the potential new series, I had hoped that Emilio Rivera would be part of the project. His character, Marcus Alvarez, President of the Northern California charter of the Mayans MC, was one of my favorite characters on Sons of Anarchy. With the casting announcements, the character that will be President of the featured charter (Santo Padre) is cousins with Alvarez and the press release indicated that he lived, for a time, with Alvarez. This gives a possible tie-in to Sons of Anarchy as the character most likely had some interaction with the rival MC. A nice setup for possible flashbacks.
The casting choices have been exemplary.
- Felipe Reyes (father of the protagonist): Edward James Olmos
- Angel Reyes (brother of the protagonist, full patch member of the MC): Clayton Cardenas
- Esai “Taino” Ossorio (President of the Mayans MC, Santo Padre charter): John Ortiz
- Michael “Riz” Ariza (Vice President of the Mayans MC): Antonio Jaramillo
- EZ Reyes (the protagonist, a prospect of the MC): JD Pardo
- Johnny “El Coco” Cruz (full patch member of the MC): Richard Cabral
There are still critical roles to be announced. The setup features conflict with the Cartel so villains will be needed, with through regular cast members or through guest starring roles. There’s also a love interest that EZ Reyes seeks to protect so that will be a key hire.
I am looking forward to the show and hope it’s as successful as its predecessor but in its own right. Marcus Alvarez, now credited as National President and Founder of the Mayans MC, (Emilio Rivera) will be an awesome bridge between the two series.
Have a great weekend!