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!