Baseball is such a rush. It starts in February when pitchers and catchers report, and then slowly builds over the course of the next eight months, reaching the adrenaline rush of the post-season, capped by the exhilarating World Series. Then, nothing. We can only wait and watch as the Yankees beat writers jump from one potential story to another without yielding much fruit.
Things will pick up in a few weeks as we approach the Winter Meetings, but for now, we just have to sit around wondering when the Yankees will give us an indication who they might be considering for the job to lead the 2018 Yankees.
Without much to really think about, here are some of my random thoughts…
Alex Rodriguez, Just Say No…
I can honestly say that I have no desire to see Alex Rodriguez named as Yankees manager. I do not dispute A-Rod’s baseball knowledge and I know that he’s been a positive influence on the younger players during Spring Training but neither of those attributes qualify him as a Major League manager. This is a man who was suspended an entire year for PED use after he had already been implicated with earlier use of performance-enhancing drugs. I was glad to see A-Rod’s time as an active member of the Yankees end and I have no interest in watching him don the pinstripes again (outside of brief Spring Training appearances). As it is, I am tired of the daily “J-Rod” updates. If Alex became the Yankees manager, those daily sightings of Jennifer Lopez and A-Rod would only worsen. I lived through the Bronx Zoo of the 1970’s. I am not willing to entertain the thought of The Bronx Zoo, Part II. So count me among those with no interest in seeing A-Rod become manager of the Yankees.
Jake Cave, Member of the 40-Man Roster…
It took awhile and included a detour through Cincinnati, but Jake Cave finally earned a spot on the Yankees 40-Man Roster when he was added on Monday.
Cave was drafted by the Yankees in the 6th Round of the 2011 MLB Draft out of Kecoughtan High School in Hampton, VA. He was left unprotected when he became Rule 5 eligible after the 2015 season and was drafted by the Cincinnati Reds. He started 2016 Spring Training very hot for the Reds but by the end of camp had cooled considerably. In the end, the Reds opted to keep a 30-year old outfielder (Jordan Pacheco), who was released by the Reds in June 2016, over the then-23 year old Cave. At the time of his return to the Yankees, Reds manager Bryan Price offered the following comments: “He was and is a terrific young player, and we all saw him as a big-leaguer. There was just some limitations on how much playing time I thought I could get him over the course of this year. My big concern was the history with Donald Lutz and Neftali Soto, guys that have come up and really not played much at a very young age and how they were able to deal with that and when they returned to the minor leagues how they performed afterwards, and I would hate to see that happen to Jake as a guy who really got limited playing time early in the season and how that would have affected his long-term development.”
Cave returned to the Yankees but rather than sulk, he continued to work on his craft. He was left unprotected again in 2016 but was not selected in that year’s Rule 5 Draft. His performance in 2017 exceeded expectations as he finished with 20 home runs and 56 RBI’s at AA/AAA combined. His batting line was .305/.351/.542 with .893 OPS in 103 total games. His hard work has been acknowledged by the Yankees and he’ll get an opportunity to go to the Major League Camp with the Yankees in February for the first time.
Cave profiles as a fourth outfielder but he is clearly a success story among Yankees prospects. With guys like Cave and Billy McKinney chomping at the bit, the Yankees need to clear out Jacoby Ellsbury and/or Brett Gardner to make way for the younger guys. I’d hate to see Gardner go but it is Clint Frazier’s time for left field. Aaron Hicks is a better center fielder than Ellsbury. So, I’d prefer to see Hicks and Frazier in the starting outfield with Aaron Judge, and guys like Cave and/or McKinney backing them up.
The Yankees also added reliever Nick Rumbelow to the 40-man roster. Rumbelow had Tommy John surgery in 2016 and missed part of the 2017 season with his recovery. After pitching briefly for the Double-A Trenton Thunder, he was lights out for the Triple A-Scranton/Wilkes-Barre RailRiders. In 17 games (covering 29 innings) for the RailRiders, Rumbelow was 5-1 and had a sterling 1.12 ERA with 5 saves. He struck out 30 batters, while walking only 8. Rumbelow, like Cave, is a success story. He was released by the Yankees in November 2016 (free to go anywhere like Nathan Eovaldi did when he signed with the Tampa Bay Rays). Rumbelow opted to re-sign with the Yankees on December 15, 2016 and we’re glad he did.
The Yankees still have a number of Rule 5 decisions to make but these were a couple of easy ones. I have no doubt the Yankees will be forced to leave quality talent unprotected for this year’s Rule 5 Draft. GM Brian Cashman, between his managerial interviews and negotiation of a new contract, has his work cut out for him.
Free Agency is Upon Us…
Free Agents became available to talk to other teams on Monday afternoon. Most forecasts show the Yankees to be very limited players in the FA arena as they attempt to avoid MLB’s competitive balance tax and reset future penalties for going above the payroll threshold. Sadly, the Boston Red Sox were able to do that this year, so they’ll be more aggressive this off-season. During the press conference yesterday to announce new Red Sox manager Alex Cora, Dave Dombrowski, President of Baseball Operations, was asked if the luxury tax would be limitation. He responded, “No, I do not”. The same question was posed to Red Sox owner John Henry and he replied with, “Well, (Dombrowski) answered the question. He said he could go over.” I would not be surprised to see the Red Sox go hard and heavy after Kansas City Royals first baseman Eric Hosmer.
Most forecasts that I have seen only show the Yankees signing Japanese two-way star Shohei Otani and CC Sabathia. Without too many moves necessary, I’d be very happy to see the Yankees acquire Otani. There is uncertainty with the current dispute in negotiations between MLB and Nippon Professional Baseball for a new posting agreement. However, Otani took a step in the positive direction by hiring Creative Artists Agency (CAA) to represent him if he is posted and made available to MLB teams this off-season.
I am not overly excited about the anticipated return of Chase Headley to third base for the 2018 season. The question will be whether Gleyber Torres or Miguel Andujar will be ready. I doubt either one breaks camp as the starter but it could happen sooner rather than later. Headley runs too hot and cold for me. I’d prefer to see greater consistency out of the position to protect the big bats in the lineup. I’d love to see the return of Todd Frazier, but the timing is not right and the Yankees are not in a position to offer a free agent multiple years at third base. For the short-term, we’ll have to deal with Headley.
It was funny yesterday that both Yankees GM Brian Cashman and former Yankees manager Joe Girardi were giving interviews at the same time. It’s tough listening to Girardi as he really sounds like a guy who wanted to be a part of the next great Yankees dynasty. I am surprised that the Washington Nationals didn’t make a run at Girardi with their World Series-caliber roster. But then again, the Nats aren’t known for spending cash on the managerial position and perhaps they were too far down the road with new manager Dave Martinez.
At this point, it appears that Girardi will sit out a year (perhaps taking a broadcasting position) and will emerge as a viable managerial candidate in the 2018 off-season.
The more Cashman talks about communication as a primary reason that Girardi was not re-hired and in particular his relationship with the younger players, it leads me to believe that there are reasons at play that we will never know. Maybe one day when Cashman retires and writes his memoirs.
I don’t know about you, but I am ready for some genuine Yankees news. These quiet days leading up to the Baseball Winter Meetings next month are tough. I am getting a little tired of watching Houston Astros show up on Saturday Night Live or Carlos Correa discussing how he decided to propose to his girlfriend immediately after the World Series had ended on the Jimmy Kimmel show. Justin Verlander’s wedding pics in Italy are nice, but I want to know about our guys. It is time to get the Yankees back in the news.
As always, Go Yankees!
Yankees 2, Twins 1…
The game had many stars…Jaime Garcia, Aaron Judge, David Robertson, Todd Frazier, but it was Aroldis Chapman who brought home the victory with his 5-out save that included working out of a one-out bases loaded jam in the top of the 8th inning as the Yankees held off the Minnesota Twins.
I’ve not been a very big fan of Jaime Garcia but he delivered on Monday night. In a game that looked like a mismatch on paper (Garcia against 15-game winner Ervin Santana), Garcia was just a tad bit better on this night. It was evident that he brought his “A” game when he struck out the side in the first inning to start the game against his former team of 6 days in July.
Credit: Kathy Willens-Associated Press
Aaron Judge gave Garcia an early lead when he belted his 44th homer of the year, a solo shot to right. It was Judge’s 97th RBI of the season.
The Twins tied the game in the top of the 5th inning. Eddie Rosario led off with a single to second on a ball that was deflected off the glove of a diving Didi Gregorius into shallow right field. Eduardo Escobar singled to right, but Aaron Judge’s slight bobble of the ball (ruled an error) allowed Rosario the time he needed to race around to third base. Robbie Grossman hit a grounder to third. Todd Frazier fielded and threw to second for the force out on Escobar but Rosario scored and the game was tied.
Garcia was able to get the first two outs in the top of the 6th, but when he gave up Joe Mauer’s single to right, his day was done. David Robertson, ready and waiting, came in and struck out Byron Buxton to end the Twins’ side of the inning.
Garcia probably wished that he could have gotten Mauer out because the Yankees scored the go-ahead run in the bottom of the 6th inning. Chase Headley singled to center on a ball that was deflected off the glove of second baseman Brian Dozier with one out. Starlin Castro singled to left, with Headley moving to second. With Jacoby Ellsbury at the plate, a wild pitch by Ervin Santana allowed the runners to move up to second and third. Ellsbury was then intentionally walked to load the bases. Todd Frazier’s sacrifice fly to center scored Headley and the Yankees had a 2-1 lead.
The Twins made a pitching change and brought in Trevor Hildenberger who retired Greg Bird on a ground out at first so the Yankees were unable to push any further runs across.
Dellin Betances replaced the highly effective David Robertson to start the 8th inning and the drama began. He hit the first batter, Robbie Grossman, with a pitch to the hip. Zach Granite pinch hit for Jason Castro and moved Grossman to second with a sacrifice bunt. Max Kepler pinch hit for Ehire Adrianza and drew a walk on four successive pitches. After pitching coach Larry Rothschild visited the mound, Betances threw a wild pitch that advanced the runners to second and third. Larry, your talk didn’t work! Betances proceeded to walk Brian Dozier, after almost striking him out on a foul tip that Gary Sanchez was unable to catch earlier in the at-bat, and the bases were full with only one out. Finally, Joe Girardi realized that it was not Dellin’s night and mercifully made the call for Aroldis Chapman.
Credit: Paul J Bereswill-NY Post
Chapman proceeded to strike out the dangerous Joe Mauer on three pitches and got Byron Buxton to jump on the first pitch for a fly out to right to end the threat. Chapman had averted disaster in shutting down the Twins on four pitches. Whew! No wait, a BIG WHEW!
Credit: Kathy Willens-Associated Press
Chapman easily retired the Twins in the top of the 9th, with the radar gun reaching 104 mph. His swinging strikeout of Eduardo Escobar ended the game. The Yankees win!
The Yankees (83-67) were unable to make up any ground on the Red Sox. Boston, despite falling behind by five runs early, overcame the Baltimore Orioles in extra innings, winning 10-8. So, the Yankees remain three games behind the Sox. The Yankees increased their Wild Card lead over the Twins to five games.
I will continue to be critical of Jaime Garcia because I am not a fan of his, but for this game, he pitched well enough to win. 5 2/3 innings, four hits, one run (no earned runs), and nine strikeouts on 85 pitches. An incredible stat, for him, was no walks given his propensity for free passes. David Robertson (9-2), the winner, has the most wins of any reliever. I love his ‘Andrew Miller’ like attitude (willingness to pitch anywhere, any time). Aroldis Chapman was clearly the game’s MVP for his clean-up of the mess created by Dellin Betances. Even better is that he only threw 16 pitches for the five-out save, his 19th, so he’ll be ready to go again tonight. Chapman pitching at the top of his game is crucial for October success.
Nice win, guys!
Odds & Ends…
MLB.com has released its revised list of Top 100 Prospects and the great Gleyber Torres is #1! Of course, we already knew that and anxiously await his arrival in the Bronx in 2018.
Other notable Yankees and former Yankees include: 23) Clint Frazier; 41) Blake Rutherford (White Sox); 55) Chance Adams; 70) Dustin Fowler (Athletics); 82) Estevan Florial; 84) Justus Sheffield; and 96) Miguel Andujar. Proving that we drafted the wrong son of Dante Bichette Sr, Toronto’s Bo Bichette came in at #26. His brother, Dante Jr, has been a disappointment in the Yankees organization and probably will not return. The Yankees took Dante Jr with their first pick (a compensatory pick, #51) in 2011. It was the same year they drafted Greg Bird, Jake Cave and Jon Gray (who didn’t sign and was later drafted by the Colorado Rockies).
Have a great Tuesday! Let’s put away those pesky Twins for the series win! Go Yankees!
Yankees 8, Angels 4…
OMG, we scored more runs than the other team! What do we do now????
Seriously, it’s so good to experience the winning feeling again. Whew! It has been far too long. Congratulations to us! High fives all around. The game had its moments but in the end, it was a 103 mph fastball from Aroldis Chapman blazing into Austin Romine’s mitt for a swinging third strike that brought joy back to the Bronx.
The Yankees jumped out to the early lead when Didi Gregorius homered following a single by Gary Sanchez in the second inning. The Angels tied the score in the fourth. Didi’s buddy from Curacao, Andrelton Simmons, singled and advanced to second on a balk. Angels catcher Martin Maldonado then hit a ball over the left field wall. Game tied at 2. With someone like Masahiro Tanaka on the mound, you’d feel the floodgates were about to open for the opponent. But on this night, Jordan Montgomery was on the mound and he continues to instill confidence with each outing. For whatever reason, that dude looked slimmer on the mound than usual. I guess Pinstripes are thinning but I digress.
Matt Holliday’s solo shot in the fifth gave the Yankees a 3-2 lead which the Yankees took into the sixth. Montgomery (5-4) retired the first two batters he faced but then Simmons singled again. Manager Joe Girardi pulled Montgomery and inserted Chad Green who promptly struck out Maldonado to end the inning. In the bottom of the sixth, the Yankees picked up 3 more runs on a two-run double by Austin Romine and a run-scoring single by Aaron Hicks.
|Credit: Paul J Bereswill-The New York Post|
In the seventh, I had an uneasy feeling when Green walked C.J. Cron on four straight pitches. A ball to the next batter, Danny Espinosa, brought pitching coach Larry Rothschild to the dugout steps but Green found his groove and registered a strikeout. He retired the next two batters on groundouts and really emerged as one of the stars of this game. The Yankees picked up a couple of insurance runs in the bottom of the inning when Matt Holliday doubled and scored on Starlin Castro’s single. Chase Headley singled to score Castro, pushing the score to 8-2.
Dellin Betances pitched a clean eighth inning, punching out the first two batters he faced and getting the third on a groundout to short.
All was going great…until Tyler Clippard got up in the bullpen. I get the logic of trying to give Clippard a clean inning to work with and much better do it with a 6 run lead but, right now, if there is a pitcher that could butcher a large lead, it’s Clippard. Sure enough, Girardi brought him in to start the 9th. Simmons doubled and there was a strong sense of ‘here we go again’. Maldonado stepped up and hit his second home run of the night which Aarons Judge and Hicks could only watch sail over the right field wall to bring the Angels within four runs. Mercifully, Girardi pulled Clippard and signaled for Aroldis Chapman. The walkup music for Chapman drowned the boos for Clippard as he sadly walked off the field.
|Credit: Frank Franklin II-AP|
Admittedly, I was still a bit concerned with Chapman. This was only his second appearance since returning from the DL and he had not pitched since Sunday. I had visions of his control problems from his last minor league rehab stint, but my concerns were unfounded. He was the Chapman of old and he came out throwing extreme heat. By the time he was facing his third and final batter, Eric Young Jr, he was throwing pitches that registered on the Statcast leaderboard. His final pitch, at 102.9 mph, was the fastest in the Majors this year.
Yankees win. The Yankees win! All is right in the world again.
The Yankees (39-30) recaptured first place in the AL East, by 1/2 game, with the victory as the Boston Red Sox fell to the Kansas City Royals, 6-4. Thank you to Salvador Perez for his 8th inning grand slam. The Tampa Bay Rays beat the Cincinnati Reds, 8-3. They are 3 games back. The Toronto Blue Jays also won so they, along with the Baltimore Orioles, are 5 games behind. The Red Sox are off today so the Yankees will either be tied or a full game up upon conclusion of tonight’s series finale with the Angels.
The Luckiest Man on the Face of the Earth…
I realize that this blog is not for movie news, but hey, they don’t pay me so I’ll take the liberty of the departure. Director Jay Russell, best known for 2004’s Ladder 49 starring Joaquin Phoenix and John Travolta, has been tabbed to direct a planned feature film called The Luckiest Man on the Face of the Earth. The movie will be based on Jonathan Eig’s biography Luckiest Man: The Life and Death of Lou Gehrig.
For those of you who have not read the book, here is the description per the book’s publisher:
“The definitive account of the life and tragic death of baseball legend Lou Gehrig.
Lou Gehrig was a baseball legend–the Iron Horse, the stoic New York Yankee who was the greatest first baseman in history, a man whose consecutive-games streak was ended by a horrible disease that now bears his name. But as this definitive new biography makes clear, Gehrig’s life was more complicated–and, perhaps, even more heroic–than anyone really knew.
Drawing on new interviews and more than two hundred pages of previously unpublished letters to and from Gehrig, Luckiest Man gives us an intimate portrait of a man who became an American hero: his life as a shy and awkward youth growing up in New York City, his unlikely friendship with Babe Ruth (a friendship that allegedly ended over rumors that Ruth had an affair with Gehrig’s wife), and his stellar career with the Yankees, where his consecutive-games streak stood for more than half a century. What was not previously known, however, is that symptoms of Gehrig’s affliction began appearing in 1938, earlier than is commonly acknowledged. Later, aware that he was dying, Gehrig exhibited a perseverance that was truly inspiring; he lived the last two years of his short life with the same grace and dignity with which he gave his now-famous “luckiest man” speech.
Meticulously researched and elegantly written, Jonathan Eig’s Luckiest Man shows us one of the greatest baseball players of all time as we’ve never seen him before.”
The planned movie already has a script written by Dan Kay. Branded Entertainment’s Michael Uslan and David Uslan head a producing team that includes Kingsway Productions’ Robert Molloy and Conglomerate Media’s Armando Gutierrez.
Molloy is the grandson of late Yankees owner George Steinbrenner. “As my late grandfather always believed, Lou Gehrig was a great role model for the world. There is triumph even in tragedy and it’s only in the face of great odds that true human heroes are born and inspire us all.”
Barrie Osborne, an executive producer for the film, said, “What I love most about the project is the fact that audiences need to know nothing about sports, baseball, the Yankees, or even the legend of Lou Gehrig in order to be moved by this emotionally uplifting story.”
“Lou Gehrig is an iconic character, not just in baseball, but as a true American hero, a man who faced his intense, personal battles with quiet bravery,” said Russell. “While Gehrig’s story has previously been told in the beloved Pride of the Yankees (1942), this will be a new depiction with a more contemporary style and approach.”
As a lifelong Lou Gehrig fan, I am very excited to hear this news. I have always considered Gehrig to be the greatest Yankee and it’s wonderful that they are bringing his story to the big screen. We know Gehrig’s accomplishments on the baseball field. This is an opportunity to know and understand the depth of the man behind the legend. I can’t wait…
Odds & Ends…
A Jacoby Ellsbury sighting has been reported. Ellsbury took batting practice and ran the bases on Wednesday. GM Brian Cashman said before yesterday’s game that the most important thing is to see how Ellsbury responds to the next three to six days. As long as Aaron Hicks is healthy, I am completely fine with Ellsbury taking all the time he needs. But realistically, the Yankees are probably stronger with Hicks rotating through the outfield to provide relief for all of the outfielders and not just center. But if the Yankees could find a way to trade Ellsbury for a bucket of bolts, I’m all in. Just be sure that he takes Chris Carter and Tyler Clippard with him.
Congrats to Gleyber Torres for his successful Tommy John surgery yesterday. Gleyber posted “Surgery went as planned now time to recover and get back on the field. I can’t wait for next season thank you all for support” on Twitter last evening. Gleyber, we can’t wait for you to get back on the field either. Happy Recovery!
|Credit: Gleyber Torres-Twitter|
Have a great Thursday! I like this new thing called winning. Can we do it again today?…
Angels 8, Yankees 3…
It is difficult to remember when the Yankees last walked off a field with a victory. It seems so very long ago. The losing streak continues as the Yankees dropped their seventh consecutive game to the Los Angeles Angels on Tuesday night.
A little more than a week ago, we were very excited about the team and its surprising performance so far this season. But over the last week, the wheels have come off and the team is looking more and more like the .500 team it was projected to be at the beginning of the year. They’ll turn this around and start playing better but it doesn’t make the current losing funk feel any better.
I thought the return of Aroldis Chapman to push Tyler Clippard back to the 7th inning would help the latter to restore some of his effectiveness. I was wrong. After the Yankees had clawed their way back to a 3-3 tie, Clippard came into the game in the 7th and proceeded to hand the Angels the win. Retiring only one batter, he allowed a solo home run by Cameron Maybin (who is not exactly known for his ability to hit balls out of the park), a double and a run-scoring triple. He was just a single shy of a cycle, but Manager Joe Girardi ended the agony by pulling Clippard and replacing him with Jonathan Holder. Holder gave up the missing single to score the runner on third, charging a total of 3 runs to Clippard (1-4) for one out of work.
|Credit: Frank Franklin II-Associated Press|
Michael Pineda, who had normally pitched much better at home than on the road, was missing his primary pitch. The Angels grabbed the early lead with a run-scoring single by Albert Pujols in the first inning and they scored two runs in the second when Danny Espinosa drove in a run with a double and Kole Calhoun singled to score Espinosa.
Angels pitcher Parker Bridwell (who?) and their bullpen kept the Yankee bats silent for the most part. The Yankees were finally able to push across their first run in the fourth when Chase Headley hit a sacrifice fly to score Starlin Castro.
The Yankees then used solo home runs to tie the game. Aaron Judge blasted his 24th home run of the year in the fifth and Gary Sanchez went yard in the sixth with his 12th.
|Credit: John Munson-NJ Advance Media for NJ.com|
There was excitement in the Bronx once again. Enter Tyler Clippard. The optimistic feelings were quickly extinguished as the Angels had taken the 6-3 lead by the time the seventh inning was over. The Angels tacked on a couple of insurance runs in the eighth and ninth innings as the Yankees just couldn’t get untracked offensively despite the earlier homers by Judge and Sanchez.
I knew we were in trouble when first baseman Chris Carter blew a routine fielding play that allowed Eric Young Jr to reach second base at the top of the second inning. It felt like it was going to be one of those games. It also reinforced that we are stuck with Carter for better or worse (my money is on the latter). Carter finished 0-for-3 with a strikeout. Just a typical day at the office for him.
|Credit: Getty Images|
It’s tough to win when you can only scratch out four hits against hittable pitchers.
Odds & Ends…
A Collective Groan in the Yankees Universe…
On the tail of a six-game losing streak, how can things go from bad to worse? Losing top prospect Gleyber Torres to Tommy John surgery certainly qualifies. Thought to have only a hyperextended elbow, consultation with Yankees team physician Christopher Ahmad revealed that Torres has a torn ulnar collateral ligament in his left elbow. Many were expecting the July call-up of Torres to the Major Leagues as a potential replacement for third baseman Chase Headley. Now, Torres will undergo surgery, with eyes for Spring Training 2018. Ouch, this one hurts. Well, him more than me but still, losing both the top pitching and the top hitting prospects to Tommy John surgery in the same year is difficult. I suppose the news would have been much worse if Torres had injured his throwing arm (longer recuperation and rehabilitation period). So, we should be grateful that this was not worse than it was. Good things never happen with headfirst slides.
Like the ascension of Chance Adams to top pitching prospect status, Clint Frazier becomes the de facto top prospect in the organization pending Gleyber’s successful return to good health. As I try to comprehend this depressing news, I didn’t really think that Torres was ready for the Big Leagues yet. I had already viewed his timetable as next Spring. With immediate projections that he’ll be ready for Spring Training, nothing really changes except he’ll lose valuable time learning the nuances of third base over the course of the next few months. Manager Joe Girardi is already on record saying that if there is an infield need at second/short on the MLB roster, Tyler Wade would be the guy.
Where do we go from here? With first base surfacing as the greatest need, this probably enhances the chances for Chase Headley to remain as the third base starter (regardless of the consequences) unless the Yankees swing a less expensive deal for a guy like Howie Kendrick of the Philadelphia Phillies. Without Major League ready third basemen in the Minor Leagues and greater needs at first base and left-handed relief in the bullpen, there’s probably not much that can be done to upgrade third base at this point without costing an arm and leg (a few arms and legs, in fact). Even the guy the Yankees traded to the San Diego Padres for Headley (Yangervis Solarte) would be a better option today in a side-by-side comparison.
|Credit: Associated Press|
The Yankees are competing against the Houston Astros in the pitching market and for third base, they face stiff competition from the Boston Red Sox who appear ready to flush the Pablo Sandoval disaster. I believe this makes the possibility of Mike Moustakas calling Fenway Park “home” the more likely outcome. This year’s July Trading Deadline figures to be a very expensive one for the many teams looking to upgrade.
The Yankees elevated 3B Miguel Andujar to AAA-Scranton/Wilkes-Barre to replace Torres. He was 1-for-4 last night in the RailRiders’ 6-1 victory over the Syracuse Chiefs. He also scored two runs. The heroes of the game were Dustin Fowler, who had a two-run home run, and Brady Lail, who pitched 6 2/3 innings, surrendering only the one run and four hits, for the win. Andujar is probably the best true third baseman right now but he’s not close to taking his game to the next level yet.
In case you were sleeping last night…
Despite the day off, the Yankees are back in sole possession of first place in the AL East. The Boston Red Sox lost to the Kansas City Royals, 4-2, to fall a 1/2 game off the pace. Having played three more games than the Yankees, the Red Sox are two games behind in the loss column. The third place Tampa Bay Rays slid to 4 games back, thanks to their loss to the Cincinnati Reds, 7-3. The Toronto Blue Jays and the Baltimore Orioles sit 5 games back entering play today. The Jays beat the Texas Rangers, 7-6, while the Orioles were de-feathered by the Cleveland Indians, 12-0.
Preview of Upcoming Angels-Yankees Series:
Here are the scheduled pitching match-ups for the series with the Los Angeles Angels which begins tonight at Yankee Stadium:
Tuesday, June 20th
Angels: Parker Bridwell (1-0, 2.79 ERA)
Yankees: Michael Pineda (7-3, 3.71 ERA)
Wednesday, June 21st
Angels: Ricky Nolasco (2-8, 5.01 ERA)
Yankees: Jordan Montgomery (4-4, 3.78 ERA)
Thursday, June 22nd
Angels: Jesse Chavez (5-7, 4.85 ERA)
Yankees: Luis Severino (5-2, 2.99 ERA)
Odds & Ends…
Yankees RHP Matt Marsh, 25, has been suspended for 50 games for a second violation of Baseball’s Minor League Drug Policy. Marsh, a relief pitcher, has appeared in 15 games for High-A Tampa and AA-Trenton. He is 3-2 with 2.49 ERA, and has held batters to .190 batting average while striking out 28 in 21 2/3 innings. He did not allow a run in 7 innings pitched for Tampa. Marsh was signed by the Yankees as an undrafted free agent in 2014.
|Credit: Josh Lefkowitz-Getty Images|
Move over, Aaron Judge and Gary Sanchez. Cody Bellinger of the Los Angeles Dodgers is now the hottest young home run hitter in baseball. Bellinger hit two more homers last night against Zack Wheeler and the New York Mets and now has 21 in 51 games. It is the fifth multi-homer game for Bellinger. He is just the fourth player 21 years or younger with 20 homers by the All-Star Break (joining Eddie Matthews, Albert Pujols, and Miguel Cabrera). Do the Dodgers miss injured first baseman Adrian Gonzalez? I think not…
|Credit: Harry How-Getty Images|
Have a great Tuesday! It’s time to put the losing streak in the rearview mirror!
|Credit: Andrew Villa-USA TODAY Sports|
A’s 4, Yankees 3…
The Yankees finished their West Coast trip with a six-game losing streak. After winning the first game against the Los Angeles Angels in Anaheim last Monday, they did not win another game in the Pacific Time Zone (finishing the trip with a 1-6 mark). The A’s series is the first time the Yankees have been swept this year. This has been a long, agonizing road trip. Late games, blown leads, emotional losses, pileup of injuries, etc. Every loss was a winnable game which makes it that much harder to accept. The starting rotation was 0-2 with 6.98 ERA for the last six games. The Yankees fly back home for a much-needed day off before resuming play on Tuesday in the Bronx against the Angels.
On Sunday, the Yankees jumped out early to a 2-0 lead over the Oakland A’s. Matt Holliday homered off A’s starter Jharel Cotton in the top of the 2nd inning to start the scoring. In the third, Brett Gardner led off with a double. After Gary Sanchez struck out, Aaron Judge singled to right, scoring Gardner.
Unfortunately, like the other games, the Yankees couldn’t hold the lead. In the bottom of the third, the A’s tied the game at two on a two-run double by Chad Pinder. They then took the lead when Khris Davis hit his 18th home run of the season off Luis Cessa to put the A’s up, 4-2.
Didi Gregorius quickly answered with a home run leading off the fourth to pull the Yankees within a run. But unfortunately for our guys, it would represent the last run scored in the game.
Luis Cessa (0-1) was pulled after four innings, allowing a total of 5 hits and 4 runs. One bad inning but enough to push the team to another loss. He walked one and struck out 4 in an outing that will most likely buy him airfare to Scranton, PA.
|Credit: Thearon W Henderson-Getty Images|
The Yankees had a scoring opportunity in the 9th against the A’s Sean Doolittle. Didi Gregorius reached second on a two-base throwing error with one out. Sadly, Chase Headley struck out and Chris Carter weakly popped out to Yonder Alonso in foul territory to strand Gregorius, the potential tying run.
It’s incredibly painful to lose so many close games. After showing signs of fighting back in the earlier losses, the last two were feeble offensive performances after the Yankees lost their early leads. Chris Carter is killing this team. There’s a reason that the Milwaukee Brewers said ‘thanks, but no thanks’ when they cut Carter after a season in which he hit 41 home runs. At least they got a plethora of bombs. Although Carter has gotten a hold of a few mistake pitches this season, he is mostly providing rally-killing outs.
Aroldis Chapman was able to get one inning of work in to at least justify the cross-country flight to join the team for one game before boarding the eastbound plane back to NYC. It was a clean inning for Chapman as he retired the three batters he faced with just 8 pitches. He struck out the first batter he faced. The other two were groundouts.
|Credit: Tony Avelar-Associated Press|
The Yankees (38-29) will now have a day to regroup with the return to New York. The Eastern Time Zone never looked so good. The Boston Red Sox beat the Houston Astros 6-5 to move into a first place tie with the Yankees. Every team in the AL East picked up a game on the Yankees yesterday. The Tampa Bay Rays are just 3 1/2 games behind, followed by the Baltimore Orioles (4 1/2) and the Toronto Blue Jays (5 1/2). The Red Sox play this evening against the Royals in Kansas City so it’s very possible the Yankees could find themselves in second place when play resumes tomorrow.
Odds & Ends…
After a two-day stint backing up Austin Romine while Gary Sanchez sat out a couple of games, Kyle Higashioka is headed back to Scranton. He was optioned on Sunday to make room for closer Aroldis Chapman. Higashioka did not appear in any games so he remains in search of his first Major League hit (hitless in 18 at-bats this season).
Chance Adams gets the attention at Triple A, but RHP Caleb Smith is now 5-0 for the RailRiders after throwing a one-hit shutout on Sunday. The RailRiders defeated the Buffalo Bisons, 2-0. Smith, 25, went the distance (7 innings), walking two and striking out seven. His season ERA is 2.44. Adams, who also won this weekend, is 4-2 with 2.43 ERA.
|Credit: Fred Adams-For Times Leader|
Gleyber Torres has been placed on the 7-Day Disabled List with the hyperextended elbow. He will consult with Yankees team physician Dr Christopher Ahmad on Monday. They are saying that Torres could be out of action for more than a week.
Former Yankees prospect Peter O’Brien, who has become much-travelled, has been claimed by the Los Angeles Dodgers. O’Brien was designated for assignment by the Texas Rangers earlier this month and subsequently placed on waivers. The Yankees traded O’Brien to the Arizona Diamondbacks in July 2014 in the deal that brought Martin Prado to New York. The D-Backs traded O’Brien to the Kansas City Royals this past January. He was subsequently claimed off waivers by the Cincinnati Reds, and then the Rangers. The Dodgers become the fifth team to take a chance on O’Brien this year. Teams love his power but quickly grow weary of his plate discipline and questionable defense.
Have a great Monday! On the bright side, it is impossible for the Yankees to lose today. Here’s hoping for better results tomorrow.
|Credit: Tony Avelar-Associated Press|
A’s 5, Yankees 2…
A funny thing happened on our way to a fun and exciting season. We got our butts kicked by the American League’s worst team. The season-high losing streak has now reached five games (three in a row to the lowly A’s) as the agony on the West Coast continues.
After the return of the “batting practice” pitcher (Masahiro Tanaka), the Yankees thrust a Triple A pitcher into the role of stopper later today. It’s going to be a very long flight back to New York for the Yankees if they can’t at least salvage the final game of the four game series.
Masahiro Tanaka’s performance yesterday showed me that I really hope that he opts out of his contract at the end of the year. But unfortunately, the worse he pitches, the more foolish he’d walk away from guaranteed money that he’d be unable to top on the open market. Tanaka is no ace and I am becoming very pessimistic about his chances to reclaim any resemblance of a top of the rotation guy.
Tanaka did strike out 10 batters, when the A’s weren’t sending the pitches out of the park (three home runs in the first four innings). In fact, Tanaka is the only pitcher in the last 100 years to strike out at least ten while allowing three homers in four innings or less. It’s not exactly a record that I’d be proud of.
After the Yankees failed to score any runs in the top of the first inning despite a runner in scoring position, the A’s Matt Joyce hopped on the first pitch thrown by Tanaka and homered to right-center. Tanaka struck out the next 3 batters to end the first (giving the false illusion that the homer was an aberration).
The next inning, the Yankees took a 2-1 lead when they scored two runs on three successive singles and a sac fly against A’s starter Jesse Hahn. But it was temporary. In the bottom of the 2nd, Ryon Healy blasted a shot to left center to tie the game. Like the inning before, Tanaka subsequently recorded all three outs by strikeout, leaving runners at first and second through a double and a walk which followed the homer. Tanaka faced the minimum of three batters in the third (one by strikeout), but Ryon Healy opened the fourth with his second home run of the game. The A’s had the lead for good, 3-2. It was another inning of all three outs recorded by strikeout, but sadly they were mixed in with four singles that produced two more runs. 5-2, A’s.
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Tanaka (5-7, 6.34 ERA) didn’t come back for the fifth inning, and he was replaced by Domingo German who finished up the game (protecting the other tired arms in the bullpen). German did an admirable job with four scoreless innings (6 strikeouts of his own) but the Yankees offense was silent for the remainder of the game. Swinging strikeouts in the 9th by Chris Carter, Gary Sanchez and Austin Romine ended the game (leaving Ronald Torreyes, who had singled and taken second on defensive indifference, stranded).
The Boston Red Sox missed out on an opportunity to tie the Yankees (38-28) for the AL East lead and they remain one game back thanks to their 7-1 loss to the Houston Astros. The Red Sox seem to be having their own Tanaka-like problems with last year’s AL Cy Young Award winner, Rick Porcello (3-9, 5.05 ERA). The Tampa Bay Rays and the Baltimore Orioles both won so they are 4 1/2 and 5 1/2 games behind, respectively.
Luis Cessa will be on the mound for the Yankees later today, making his season debut. The Yankees bullpen will be at its strongest for the first time in a long time with the expected activation of closer Aroldis Chapman. I am hopeful that the return of Tyler Clippard to the 7th inning allows him to be more effective with the pressurized latter innings under the control of Dellin Betances and Chapman.
Odds & Ends…
Since his elevation to the Los Angeles Dodgers on April 28th, first baseman/outfielder Cody Bellinger, son of former Yankees pitcher Clay Bellinger, has been on a home-run tear. He already has four multi-homer games, and his 19th home run yesterday matched Gary Sanchez’s MLB record for most home runs in a player’s first 49 games. The Dodger Days for first baseman Adrian Gonzalez, currently on the DL with a degenerative disc in his lower back, appear to be numbered.
|Credit: Jeff Roberson-Associated Press|
The Yankees received a scare yesterday when top prospect Gleyber Torres was pulled from the game with an injury suffered on a headfirst slide at home plate. He has been diagnosed with a hyperextended elbow. X-rays performed after the game were negative. He’ll undergo further medical evaluation before returning to Scranton. Hopefully all is well except for a few days of rest.
I hadn’t really seen a list yet, but Joel Sherman of the New York Post reported this weekend that the Yankees must place the following players on the 40-man roster between now and November 20th or risk losing them in the Rule 5 draft: Gleyber Torres, Albert Abreu, Domingo Acevedo, Tyler Wade, Zack Littell, Thairo Estrada, Clint Frazier, Dustin Fowler, Ian Clarkin, Billy McKinney and J.P. Feyereisen. It would seem that the abundance of talented prospects requiring protection will be a factor in the days leading up the trading deadline next month.
Happy Father’s Day to all dads in the Yankees Universe! I hope it’s a tremendous day for you, complete with a Yankees victory! Enjoy!