Tagged: Gary Denbo

The Road to Cleveland…

Credit:  Adam Hunger-Getty Images

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.

Credit:  MLB.com

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.  

Credit:  John Munson-NJ Advance Media for NJ.com

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. 

Credit:  John Munson-NJ Advance Media for NJ.com

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.

Credit:  Kathy Willens-AP

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.

Credit:  John Munson-NJ Advance Media for NJ.com

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!

Credit:  John Munson-NJ Advance Media for NJ.com

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.  

Credit:  Amanda Rabinowitz-WKSU

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!

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Austin Decides to Buy on Sale…

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Yankees 4, Red Sox 3…

Tyler Austin apparently did not get the memo that the Yankees are not supposed to score multiple runs off Boston ace Chris Sale.  His three-run dinger gave the Yankees a lead they would not relinquish.  CC Sabathia, fresh off the DL, pitched like an ace and the bullpen duo of David Robertson and Dellin Betances came through in the clutch to help the Yankees hold off the Red Sox for the much-needed win.

Credit:  Adam Glanzman-Getty Images

There’s no disputing Chris Sale is a great pitcher.  But for whatever reason, the Yankees have fared well against him this season.  In 4 starts, including Saturday, Sale is 0-2.  He has only lost a total of five games this season.  But in the three preceding games against the Yankees, he had only given up only one homer and three earned runs.  With one swing, Tyler Austin matched that production.

Didi Gregorius got on base first in the top of the 2nd inning with a one-out ground rule double that bounced into the right field stands.  It probably would have been a homer at Yankee Stadium with its short right field porch.  Todd Frazier reached first base when he was hit in the left shin with a 82 mph slider by Sale (Ouch!).  Joe Girardi and Trainer Steve Donohue walked with Frazier down the first base line, but he stayed in the game.  Tyler Austin was the beneficiary of a mistake fastball by Sale and he crushed it out of Fenway Park in left.  The Yankees led, 3-0.

Credit:  Bob DeChiara-USA TODAY Sports

The Red Sox finally got to Yankees starter CC Sabathia in the 5th inning.  With one out, Xander Bogaerts worked a walk on six pitches.  Rafael Devers, rapidly becoming a Yankee killer at only 20 years of age, rapped a single to right.  Bogaerts raced around to third, sliding in ahead of Aaron Judge’s strong throw.  Sandy Leon grounded out to Ronald Torreyes at second, but Bogaerts scored on the play.  Devers moved to second.  Jackie Bradley, Jr singled to left which brought Devers home ahead of the slightly high and away throw, and it was a one-run game, 3-2.  Sabathia held it there as he was able to get Eduardo Nunez to hit into an inning-ending ground out.

Todd Frazier provided what would prove to be the game-winning run when he blasted a solo shot to left center, just over the Green Monster, in the 6th with two outs and down to two strikes.  It was Frazier’s 21st home run of the season.  He showed no ill effects of the earlier ball to the shin but you have to believe that he’ll be feeling it today.  

Sabathia allowed a lead off double to deep center by Mookie Betts in the bottom of the 6th, but he retired the next three Red Sox hitters to leave Betts stranded at second.  That would be all for Sabathia who finished six innings strong, holding the Sox to four hits and two runs.  He walked a batter and punched out four.  I was expecting the worst from Sabathia and his balky knee but he proved me wrong.  I am glad he did.

Adam Warren was brought into the game in the bottom of the 7th inning.  After Xander Bogaerts struck out, Rafael Devers took Warren deep to center for a home run. The ball hit the left side of the yellow line but caromed into the triangle.  The Yankees challenged the play but it was upheld.  It was a one-run game again, 4-3 Yankees.    Warren struck out Sandy Leon.  The ball got away from Gary Sanchez but he easily threw Leon out at first to complete the strikeout.  The Yankees then made a pitching change. David Robertson came in and got Jackie Bradley, Jr to ground out on one pitch.  Man, every friggin’ day I am grateful for D-Rob.

The Red Sox had runners in scoring position in the 8th inning against D-Rob.  Andrew Benintendi struck out swinging but made it to first base on a wild pitch when Gary Sanchez was unable to stop the ball.  It took a wicked bounce so I couldn’t really fault Sanchez on the play.  Hanley Ramirez lined a double to  deep left, but Benintendi, the potential game-tying run, pulled up at third.  D-Rob intentionally walked Mitch Moreland, loading the bases, to pitch to Xander Bogaerts.  Bogaerts went down swinging on three pitches and the inning was over.  Thanks, D-Rob.

Credit:  Bob DeChiara-USA TODAY Sports

The Yankees had a chance to add to their lead in the top of the 9th.  Tyler Austin doubled  between the gap to the center field wall off Red Sox reliever Heath Hembree.  He was replaced by the $153 million pinch-runner Jacoby Ellsbury.   After a pickoff attempt nearly got Ellsbury, a sacrifice bunt by Ronald Torreyes moved Ells to third.  Brett Gardner hit a fielder’s choice to third with Ellsbury breaking for home.  Third baseman Rafael Devers’ throw to catcher Sandy Leon easily nailed Ellsbury short of home plate. The Yankees had runners at first and second, following a wild pitch and subsequent walk of Aaron Hicks, for Aaron Judge but he struck out on a foul tip to the mitt to end the threat.

With Aroldis Chapman temporarily removed from the closer’s role by Manager Joe Girardi, Dellin Betances came on in the bottom of the 9th.  Betances struck out the first batter, Rafael Devers, but Sandy Leon reached base on a swinging strikeout when the third strike got away from Gary Sanchez.  Betances was charged with the wild pitch.  But in baseball, there is always a chance for atonement.  Brock Holt, who had entered the game as a pinch-runner for Leon, made a break for second with Jackie Bradley, Jr. at bat. The throw by Gary Sanchez to Didi Gregorius was perfect to nail the sliding Holt for the second out.  JBJ  flied out to left and it was game over.  The Yankees win!

Credit:  Adam Glanzman-Getty Images

The Yankees (66-56) regained the game on the Red Sox they had lost on Friday night, and trail the Sox by four games in the AL East Standings again.  The Los Angeles Angels beat the Baltimore Orioles, 5-1, so the Angels remain 3 1/2 games behind the Yankees in the Wild Card standings (the Angels and Minnesota Twins are tied for the second WC spot).  The O’s, the third place team in the AL East, slid 6 1/2 games behind the Yankees.  Both the Tampa Bay Rays and Toronto Blue Jays lost on Saturday.

It was a great game by CC Sabathia (10-5).  The Yankees had their chances to put more runs on the board (leaving a total of eight men on base) but the bullpen held to give Sabathia the win over Chris Sale.  I am really glad that we didn’t see Aroldis Chapman.  While my preference is Betances then Robertson, the reversed order worked and Betances had his 9th save.

Credit:  Corey Sipkin-NY Post

Girardi continues to bat Aaron Judge third in the lineup, but at this point, Judge seems to be living off his first half reputation.  The Yankees would probably be better served moving Didi Gregorius up to third and dropping Judge down in the order.  Judge was hitless in four at-bats, and struck out 3 times to extend his MLB record with strikeouts to 3 consecutive games.  Judge had been tied with Montreal Expos pitcher Bill Stoneman who struck out in 35 consecutive games in 1971.  At 36 games regardless of season, Judge has tied the MLB record so if he strikes out again today, he’ll be the all-time consecutive game strikeout leader.  I know, Judge could care less about the strike outs as long as he gets his hits and walks, but I personally would like to see the end of the streak and maybe a clutch hit or two with men in scoring position.

Credit:  Adam Glanzman-Getty Images

Odds & Ends…

Perhaps Tyler Austin heard footsteps.  On Friday night, first baseman Greg Bird homered twice in Scranton/Wilkes-Barre’s 10-6 loss to the Durham Bulls.  Yesterday, Bird was 2-for-4, with double and a run scored, in the RailRiders’ 8-4 loss to the Bulls.  I really hope that Bird continues hitting when he returns to the Yankees.  This would be a great boost for the team as they attempt to stave off Wild Card challengers while holding aspirations for the division crown.  

Credit:  Fred Adams-For Times Leader

Prior to yesterday’s game, LHP Jordan Montgomery was optioned to Scranton/Wilkes-Barre to make room for CC Sabathia.  With Masahiro Tanaka scheduled to return this week in the Detroit Tigers series, Monty returns to Triple A for “softer” innings while the Yankees monitor his pitch count.

MLB.com’s Mark Feinsand is reporting that Yankees VP of Player Development Gary Denbo is a strong early candidate to become GM for the Miami Marlins once Derek Jeter takes control of the team’s operations.  I am hopeful the Marlins retain manager Don Mattingly, one of my favorite managers.  Well, unless the Yankees decide to part ways with Joe Girardi…

Have a great Sunday!  The Yankees, with ‘OMG, it’s Sonny Gray!’, can take the series today with a win.  Let’s Go Yankees!

End of WS, Start of Hot Stove…

Quiet domination…

I am not sure too many people would have predicted the San Francisco Giants and the Kansas City Royals in the Fall Classic, but congratulations to the Giants for their third World Series win in five years.  For being the most dominant team since the Yankees of the late 90’s, they’ve gone about it very quietly.  I guess that’s a product of East Coast bias, but Brian Sabean and Bruce Bochy deserve much credit for crafting one of baseball’s better organizations.

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When the Royals hit the sloppy triple in the top of the 9th of Game 7 against the great Madison Bumgarner, there was never really a sense that the Giants were going to let the game slip away.  Of course, that’s very easy to say when Bumgarner is on the mound.  It was a legendary World Series performance and he was the MVP by far.  Pablo Sandoval played superbly but Bumgarner was simply spectacular.  I did feel bad for the Kansas City fans who came so close to a championship after so many years of bad teams.  They’ll certainly be a force going forward and should have other opportunities.  With their stash of young talent, they remind me of the Tampa Bay Rays of a few years ago.

Maybe we will see it during our lifetime…

Joe Maddon and the Chicago Cubs.  It does seem like a potential great marriage.  Hopefully, former Cubs manager Rick Renteria will get another opportunity sooner rather than later.  He certainly deserves it, but this was a move that the Cubs needed to make.  It is a terrific chance for Maddon to prove that he is the best manager in baseball, and to win the World Series at Wrigley Field would be the crown jewel.

When Maddon first opted out of his contract with the Rays, I thought, or feared, that the Dodgers would foolishly dump Don Mattingly to reunite Maddon with former Rays GM Andrew Friedman.  But fortunately, Mattingly is held in high regard by ownership, so I am sure that solidified his position regardless of what Friedman may have felt privately.  Publicly, the Dodgers didn’t say or do anything to undermine their current manager which was good.  With the Dodgers off the table, the Cubs were the best spot for Maddon.  Unfortunate that it came at the expense of an employed manager, but it was still the right fit.

Maddon and his personality should be an instant success in the Windy City.

Protect your own, well, except #13…

I was glad to see the Yankees extend a qualifying offer to closer David Robertson, but there was no chance they wouldn’t.  It would be awesome if Robertson accepted the qualifying offer but I seriously doubt it.  Hopefully, the Yankees and Robertson can find common ground in bringing the closer back to the Bronx.  Dellin Betances may be a great closer one day, but Kansas City showed that you can go a long way with a stellar bullpen.  The Yankees are better with Betances setting up Robertson.

I am also hopeful that the Yankees bring back third baseman Chase Headley and starting pitcher Brandon McCarthy.  However, McCarthy may get caught in numbers.  CC Sabathia will be back to join Masahiro Tanaka and Michael Pineda.  Shane Greene deserves another shot at the rotation, and it is very likely the Yankees will go after one of the top three free agent pitchers (Max Scherzer, Jon Lester or James Shields).  At some point early in the season, Ivan Nova will return.  It’s anybody’s guess what Sabathia will bring and there is some uncertainly with Tanaka and his elbow.  So loading up with starting pitching is never a bad thing, but if McCarthy wants a guaranteed spot, he’ll most likely need to go elsewhere.  It’s too bad because he is a good fit in the Bronx.

Tough decisions lie ahead for GM Brian Cashman and the Steinbrenner family.

Too many players with uncertainty.  Alex Rodriguez is certainly at the head of the list.  His days as a premier third baseman are over.  That’s even more reason to bring Headley back.  With someone like A-Rod, I would set my expectations low and then anything he delivers beyond that would be a bonus.  I truly hated to see the World Series end for no other reason than it meant the restoration of A-Rod to the active roster.  I wish there was a way the Yankees could sever ties, but the contract is too problematic unless the Yankees want to simply give A-Rod money for nothing and release him.

With Jose Pirela performing well in winter ball, there should be very spirited competition for second base with Rob Refsnyder in Spring Training.  My preference is to go young with the position and not reach out for an older veteran on the free agent or trade market.  They’ll need to do the latter at shortstop to provide a fill in until young prospect Jorge Mateo is hopefully ready in a few years.

It’s been fun watching the star shine more brightly on Yankees prospect Aaron Judge.  One of the bigger guys in baseball, he is playing better than just a big man and is on track to arrive at Yankee Stadium in a couple of years.

This off-season will see the departure of some prospects as a few are getting older and running out of options like Austin Romine.  The Yankees have a glut at catcher behind Brian McCann, so it would seem that either Francisco Cervelli or John Ryan Murphy will have to go.  I only hope that it doesn’t mean trading away high level talent like Judge or pitcher Luis Severino unless the return is significant (highly unlikely).

Best of luck to Gary Denbo as he takes over for VP of Baseball Operations for the retiring Mark Newman.  The Yankees have made progress in improving their minor league system the last couple of years so hopefully Denbo can enhance the continued growth of quality prospects at the upper levels of the system.  Also, I was pleased to see the return of former third baseman Eric Chavez as a special assignment scout.  I was disappointed last year when he chose a bench role with the Arizona Diamondbacks over the Yankees to be closer to his home in Arizona.

Still no word on a new hitting coach or first base coach, although it looks like Raul Ibanez is getting strong consideration for the former position.  Teaming him with someone like James Rowson would be a great idea.

Decisions made by the Yankees over the next 45 days will go a very long way toward shaping the 2015 Yankees.

I am ready for Spring Training to begin…

–Scott