Tagged: Gleyber Torres

Splitter showed up but Clippard did not…

Credit:  Charles Wenzelberg

Friday night was very disappointing…  

The disappointment certainly did not reside with Masahiro Tanaka who was able to put the horrific past couple of weeks in his rearview mirror, but it was the implosion of the bullpen.  Tyler Clippard picked a very bad night to have a bad night and Jonathan Holder didn’t do anything to help.  

Tanaka started the game with three strikeouts although he did give up a double to Oakland’s Jed Lowrie.  It went a long way for me to show that Tanaka was not going to be a punching bag on this evening.  Tanaka pitched into the eighth without allowing any runs, while striking out a season-high 13 batters.  The only problem was that Sean Manaea, moved up a day in the rotation after Kendall Graveman was scratched, was just as good. The Yankees could not muster any offense against Manaea, who only permitted one extra base-hit, a double by Austin Romine in the third inning.

Credit:  Mike Stobe/Getty Images

With the game still deadlocked at 0-0 in eighth inning, Tanaka struck out Mark Canha and was then pulled by manager Joe Girardi after giving up a single to Adam Rosales.  Using ‘ifs and buts’, if Aroldis Chapman had been healthy, the Yankees could have gone to Dellin Betances in that situation but Girardi had no choice but to go to interim setup reliever Tyler Clippard.  

From there, the game fell apart.  Rosales was safe at third following a throwing error by Clippard.  The next batter, Rajai Davis, hit into a fielder’s choice, and Rosales was erased at home.  Davis then stole second, but it didn’t matter because Clippard walked the next batter, Matt Joyce, a .194 hitter.  Jed Lowrie, 3-for-4 on the night, promptly singled to score Davis.  While I understand the rules for why the run was charged to Tanaka, this one was clearly on Clippard.  The next batter, Khris Davis, reached first on an infield single to Gregorius, scoring Joyce.  The Yankees challenged the call at first but lost.  Things could have gotten worse from there as Clippard threw a wild pitch to advance the runners to second and third but Ryan Healy flied out to left to end the inning.

Jonathan Holder replaced Clippard in the top of the ninth inning and was greeted by a single (Trevor Plouffe) and a home run (Stephen Vogt) which put the A’s up 4-0.  He stayed and got the next three outs, but by then the damage had been done.

The Yankees tried to muster a rally in the bottom of the ninth.  They had the bases loaded with just one out for Didi Gregorius.  Didi was unable to get the ball out of the park and the Yankees had to settle for a sac fly to put their first run on the board.  With two outs and the game-tying run still at the plate, Girardi pinch-hit Gary Sanchez for Chase Headley.  Unfortunately, Sanchez delivered the same result that Headley would have, a pop up in the infield to end the game.  

Numerous disappointments with this night.  Obviously, the bullpen.  The Yankees need Aroldis Chapman back.  Since he went on the DL, Betances is the only reliever to step up his game.  The others have regressed from the added work.  Chapman is scheduled to throw catch today if a visit to the doctor goes well so hopefully this is the start of his return.  Matt Holliday was a no-show.  He was 0-for-4 with three strikeouts, leaving three runners on base.  Chase Headley is bringing nothing to the table.  He was 0-for-3 with two strikeouts, and hasn’t been able to hit for a month as his batting average has fallen to .228.  

I know the calls for Gleyber Torres will soon begin but I think it’s more likely the Yankees would swing a minor trade for a Major League third base replacement at this point.  This is a direct reflection of how poorly the Yankees have drafted for third base.  Miguel Andujar is the organization’s best third baseman and he’s further away than Torres who most likely will be the eventual starter for the Yankees.  In 2011, the year they drafted Greg Bird, the Yankees first pick (51st selection) was Dante Bichette, Jr.  Had Bichette been able to develop, he would have been ready for a job in the Bronx.  As it is, the 24-year-old Bichette is batting .147/.213/.265 for AA-Trenton and is closer to a job outside of Baseball.  I recognize that 2011 was not a strong year for third basemen in general, but with the 292nd pick, the Boston Red Sox chose Travis Shaw who is currently the starting third baseman for the Milwaukee Brewers (9 HR, 34 RBI, .286 BA) .  The Yankees chose a few more third basemen in the 2011 Draft.  Matthew Duran was chosen with the 149th pick (Greg Bird wasn’t chosen until 30 picks later), Zach Wilson was picked 659th, and Connor Mach was the 1409th selection.  All three players are out of baseball.

I think the Yankees are stuck with Headley for the duration of the year.

Credit:  Elsa/Getty Images

The Yankees (27-18) maintained their 2 1/2 game advantage over the Baltimore Orioles, but lost ground with the AL East lead to two games as the hard-charging Boston Red Sox have moved up to second.  Baltimore lost to the very strong Houston Astros, 2-0, while the Red Sox were beating the punchless Seattle Mariners, 3-0.  

Here are the revised pitching match-ups for the remainder of the Oakland series with the scratch of Kendall Graveman yesterday:

TODAY

Athletics:  Jharel Cotton (3-4, 5.68 ERA)

Yankees:  CC Sabathia (4-2, 4.62 ERA)

TOMORROW

Athletics:  Andrew Triggs (5-3, 2.77 ERA)

Yankees:  Michael Pineda (5-2, 3.35 ERA)

I would have liked to have seen Sonny Gray this series given the trade rumors but Gray’s turn in the rotation doesn’t come up again until Tuesday in Cleveland.  

Credit:  Winslow Townson/USA TODAY Sports

The Yankees need to provide some offense today for Sabathia who, hopefully, continues his recent string of quality starts.  This is a series that the Yankees should be winning so if they lose two of three or worse yet, get swept, this will be looked upon as a missed opportunity.  Win the games you are supposed to win.  Apparently, the Red Sox got the memo but the Yankees didn’t.  Turn it around…today. 

Have a great Saturday!  Let’s find ways to beat the A’s!

Sevy and the Blazing Fast Goose Eggs…

Credit:  Kathy Willens/AP

Yankees 3, Royals 0…

Luis Severino continued the recent albeit short trend of stellar pitching performances by Yankee starters.  Masahiro Tanaka excluded, the rotation has pitched to win the last four games.  Severino was tremendous, pitching eight innings.  He was still clicking the radar gun at 99 mph in the 8th.  By completing eight, Severino was able to pass the baton to Dellin Betances for the one inning save without relying on any of the tired arms in the pen. 

Severino (3-2) was incredible in the scoreless outing with a season high 114 pitches.  He allowed only one extra base hit (a double by Brandon Moss in the 5th inning) and did not allow any runners past second base.  Sevy only allowed four hits and walked one while striking out seven.  He lowered his season ERA to 3.11.

Jason Hammel kept the Yankees in check most of the night but the Pinstripers didn’t need much.  Didi Gregorius hit a solo homer in the third inning to give the Yanks an early 1-0 lead.  

Credit:  Adam Hunger/USA TODAY Sports

In the 6th inning, the Yankees picked up another run through great-base running effort by Gary Sanchez.  Sanchez singled to open the inning and then stole second.  Thanks to a throwing error by Royals catcher Salvador Perez, Sanchez alertly raced on to third.  Matt Holliday brought him home with a sac fly.

The Yankees picked up their final run when Gregorius led off the 7th inning with a double.  A ground out by Chris Carter moved Gregorius to third, which brought Brett Gardner to the plate.  With two strikes, Gardner was the beneficiary of a called ball on a pitch by Royals reliever Matt Strahm that seemingly landed well within the strike zone.  It should have been the third strike for the second out of the inning but with the next pitch, Gardner singled to center to drive in the run.

Betances struck out the side in the 9th inning to earn his fourth save of the season, lowering his season ERA to 0.57.

The Yankees (27-17) moved 2 1/2 games up on the Baltimore Orioles.  Baltimore lost 4-3 to the Minnesota Twins and their fine rookie pitcher Jose Berrios.  The Boston Red Sox remained 3 1/2 games back with their 9-4 win over the Texas Rangers.

I want one of those guys…

Last night, Chris Sale of the Red Sox attempted to become the MLB pitcher in the Modern Era to record at least 10 strikeouts in nine straight games.  He failed but he is still the fifth pitcher since 1900 to reach 100 strikeouts in his first 10 starts.  It probably wasn’t one of his better games, but Sale still kept the game within reach for the Red Sox until their offense exploded for 7 runs in the 7th inning of their game against the Texas Rangers.  Sale finished the night with 7 1/3 innings, 6 hits, 4 runs (3 earned), 1 walk and 6 strikeouts.  

Credit:  Christopher Evans

Sale has such a presence when he is on the mound.  I can’t think of any potential trade targets that can match Sale as a frontline ace.  I remain hopeful that GM Brian Cashman will surprise me, but I think most of us know who the available trade suspects are.  

Gleyber Torres Watch (with a little Tyler Austin thrown in)…

It was another night at third base yesterday for Yankees top prospect Gleyber Torres as the Scranton/Wilkes-Barre RailRiders defeated the Columbus Clippers, 5-0. 

Watching the RailRiders this closely shows me one thing.  Clint Frazier is on fire.  He hit his eighth home run (and 28th RBI) in the first inning of the RailRiders’ game against the Columbus Clippers on Wednesday.  He also had a two-run shot on Tuesday during Gleyber’s first game at the AAA Level.  But enough about ridiculously hot outfielders and how the Yankees like to keep them down while parading the $153 Million Man in center field at Yankee Stadium on a nightly basis.  Note:  To Jacoby Ellsbury’s defense, he was injured during last night’s game against the Royals when he collided into the outfield wall after making a catch.  He suffered a neck sprain and a concussion, and has been placed on the 7-Day DL.  I wish him no ill will and hope that he returns to the health sooner than later.  It does kind of make me wish that the padding on the outfield walls was a little more player-friendly.  Rob Refsnyder has been recalled to the Bronx to replace Ellsbury.  On performance alone, Frazier would have been the best option, but Refsnyder is already on the 40-Man Roster which was the difference-maker.  

Credit:  Andy Grosh/MiLB.com

Torres was a wee bit cooler than Frazier.  With an ‘O-fer’ night (0-for-3), he wasn’t really doing much with the bat but he did walk twice, stole a base, and avoided striking out.  All things considered, it was another game in the education and development of the Yankees premier prospect as he climbs the ladder for the eventual call to the Bronx.  

I thought Mike Ford did a good job for Scranton/Wilkes-Barre in the short time since his call-up.  In nine games, he hit 4 homers and 10 RBI’s, batting .306/.432/.750.  But he was returned to AA-Trenton yesterday when Ji-Man Choi was activated from the 7-Day DL for the RailRiders.  

Credit:  Cheryl Pursell

Maybe I should have re-named this section the Minor League Report.

As promised, here’s a little Tyler Austin…


Finally…

The Yankees conclude their four-game set against the Kansas City Royals this afternoon at 1:05 pm Eastern.  The Royals have announced a change in starters for the game as Miguel Almonte, called up on Tuesday from the Northwest Arkansas Naturals (Double-A), will replace Nathan Karns who was placed on the DL with forearm stiffness. He was 1-0 with a 1.86 ERA in 6 starts for the Naturals. For Almonte, the start at Yankee Stadium will be a treat.  “That was my favorite team growing up”, Almonte said yesterday through an interpreter.  No worries, Miguel, they are our favorite team too.
Masahiro Tanaka takes the hill for the Yankees in an outing that will probably have me watching the game between my fingers.  I really hope that he has rediscovered the touch and can continue the streak of solid pitching performances.  Otherwise, the fans in the outfield bleachers should receive hazard duty pay.
Have a great Thursday!  Why settle for two when you can take three??!!…

 

Win as a Team, Lose as a Team…

Credit:  Kathy Willens/AP

Royals 6, Yankees 2…

Jordan Montgomery showed why he is a Major League pitcher.  After a few outings that had led to speculation he could potentially be replaced in the rotation, Monty delivered his finest outing yet.  The bullpen couldn’t hold it but you’ll never find a complainer with Montgomery.  “I trust those guys coming out of the bullpen.  I trust them all.  They’re doing the best to execute pitches.  They’ve been so great throughout the year already.  Nobody is perfect.  Win as a team, lose as a team.”, Montgomery said in his post-game comments.  

Credit:  Robert Sabo

Monty took a one-hitter into the seventh inning but gave up a solo home run to Lorenzo Cain.  After getting the second out of the inning, Montgomery was pulled for Adam Warren with the Yankees leading 2-1 and no one on, finishing with a two-hit effort.  At that point, the bullpen imploded to the tune of four hits and five runs, which allowed the Royals to walk away with the 6-2 victory.  After watching Montgomery’s brilliant two-hitter, Warren (1-1) allowed two hits to the first two batters he faced, the second a homer by Jorge Bonifacio, while both Jonathan Holder and Chasen Shreve were greeted with solo shots from the first batters they faced in the eighth.  Bryan Mitchell pitched a three-up, three down ninth inning but by then, it was too little, too late as the Yankees were unable to rally.

It’s disappointing to see such a great performance by Montgomery wasted but the overworked bullpen is a byproduct of the overall recent poor performances by the starting rotation.  It’s hard to fault Warren and Company as it was inevitable they’d crack from overuse and it was really good to see the maturity of Montgomery as he refused to place any blame on his teammates.  You could say that manager Joe Girardi should have left Montgomery in the game, but he was at 98 pitches.  It was time for his tip of the cap as he walked off the mound.  

Credit:  Mike Stobe/Getty Images

Danny Duffy, the winning pitcher for the Royals, took notice.  After the game, Duffy said “He’s out there, and he’s beyond his years and it’s fun to watch him compete.”

The Yankees scored their only runs in the fourth and fifth innings with solo home runs from Aaron Hicks and Chris Carter, respectively.  The Yankees had a chance to close the gap in the eighth when Chase Headley came to bat with two outs and runners at the corners, but his liner to Eric Hosmer, who made a great play, thwarted the attempt.  

Prior to the game, the Yankees took a moment of silence for the victims of the horrific and senseless terror attack in Manchester, England, playing “God Save The Queen”.  

Credit:  Kathy Willens/AP

The Yankees (26-17) maintained their 1 1/2 game lead over the Baltimore Orioles in the AL East despite the loss.  The Orioles fell 2-0 to Ervin Santana and the Minnesota Twins.  Santana pitched a complete game two-hitter.  The Boston Red Sox beat the Texas Rangers 11-6 to close to within 3 1/2 games.

Bird Update…

Greg Bird has resumed hitting off a tee as he begins his journey back from the bruised ankle injury.

I know, that pic couldn’t possibly be Greg Bird.  He’d never wear his jeans that high up!

The current plan is for Bird to hit in an indoor cage today, rest tomorrow, and take outdoor batting practice on Friday and Saturday.  Sunday, he’d travel down to Florida to begin either extended spring training on Monday or start a rehab assignment with High-A Tampa.

It’s possible that we could see Bird back with the Yankees late next week or weekend depending upon how things go.  Hopefully, there will be no setbacks and he’ll be much stronger and healthier than we last saw him.

Gerrit Cole Update…

Yeah, that’s probably true.

For the record, Cole did kind of stink it up in Pittsburgh’s 5-2 loss to the Atlanta Braves on Monday.  He was almost Masahiro Tanaka-like in lasting only 4 2/3 innings.  The Braves teed off him, maybe using Bird’s tee, for 10 hits and 5 runs.  I guess we can get that production from our own staff without giving up prospects off the MLB Top 100 list.  

But all things considered, and throwing in the AL East surcharge on ERA, I’d still take Cole.  I know that he spurned the Yankees when drafted a few years ago, but I have to say that for a chance to go to UCLA, I probably would have too.  

Gleyber Torres Update…

Tuesday night saw Gleyber Torres in the lineup for the Scranton/Wilkes-Barre RailRiders at third base.  Rob Refsnyder was at second, and Tyler Wade at short.  Physically, Torres really isn’t that much smaller than Headley.  He is an inch shorter at 6’1″ and about 40 pounds lighter at 175 lbs.  I guess when I think of third basemen, I think of guys like Kris Bryant (6’5″, 230 lbs) but Torres is taller than others such as Justin Turner or Pablo Sandoval.  Nolan Arenado sets the bar for third base from a performance standpoint and he’s only 6’2″, 215 lbs.  Torres will continue to pack muscle on his frame so he certainly has the physical attributes to excel at the position.  I guess selfishly I wanted to keep third base relatively open or flexible for the possible addition of Manny Machado but I am not going to complain if Torres grabs third for years of All-Star games and World Series Championship rings.  

Torres was 1-for-3 with a single in the RailRiders’ 3-1 loss to the Columbus Clippers.  

Have a great Wednesday!  Time to get a new winning streak started!  It’s a new day!

Sabathia and his 20th Career Victory against the Royals…

Credit:  Brian Davidson/Getty Images

After giving up 22 runs in his previous four starts, CC Sabathia had his best game since his season opening start.  He pitched 6 2/3 innings of scoreless ball to help the Yankees defeat the Kansas City Royals, 7-1.  He only gave up five hits and two walks while striking out four.  The effort dropped his season ERA from 5.77 to 4.93.  He did get into a little trouble in the seventh inning when the Royals loaded the bases with two outs.  Joe Girardi pulled Sabathia, and Tyler Clippard was able to get the last out by swinging strikeout to preserve the scoreless outing for Sabathia.  

This is one of those games where everyone who played contributed in some way with a run, hit, or RBI.  The biggest hit was clearly the three-run homer by Gary Sanchez in the third inning.  It set the tone early and the Yankees were in control throughout.  Chris Carter finally did the one thing he is paid to do with a two-run dinger in the fourth, his second of the year.  Carter was 3-for-4 on the night, making it easily his best game as a Yankee.  Chase Headley deserves kudos for his amazing catch of the first pitch hit to start the game.  

Credit:  John Sleezer/Kansas City Star/TNS

The Royals scored their only run in the ninth inning against Jonathan Holder on a fielder’s choice force-out with the bases loaded.  Things could have gotten hairy from there, but Holder got Alcides Escobar to pop up to Didi Gregorius to end the threat and the game.  

I have to say that the outing by Sabathia was bittersweet.  It buys the left-hander more time in the rotation, potentially setting us up for disappointment when we need him the most.  It’s one of those things that I hope I am wrong and CC shows he is capable of putting up more quality starts than not.  But one must recognize this wasn’t the Houston Astros, Baltimore Orioles or Boston Red Sox facing Sabathia.  The Royals are the worst hitting team in the American League at .226/.289/.355.  

For his career, Sabathia is 20-11 against the Royals in 38 starts, with a 3.11 ERA.  I am glad that he likes to pitch in Kansas City, where he is 13-5.  Now, I am hoping that Michael Pineda and Jordan Montgomery enjoy Kauffman Stadium as much as Sabathia has.  

The Yankees (23-13) remain a half-game ahead of the Baltimore Orioles in the AL East.  The Orioles beat the Detroit Tigers on Tuesday night in slugfest, 13-11.  It took two homers by Chris Davis in extra innings for the O’s to win.  Former Yankee Justin Wilson blew a save opportunity for the Tigers in the ninth, while former Yankee Richard Bleier took the win for the O’s.  Sadly, the Boston Red Sox also won, defeating the St Louis Cardinals, 6-3.  The Sox are four games back.

I was surprised to see the Arizona Diamondbacks have released former Orioles lefty Brian Matusz.  It doesn’t seem like that long ago he was a highly touted pitcher for the O’s but struggled as a starter.  He eventually found some success in the pen.  I always liked him and wanted to see him fulfill his promise (albeit not against the Yankees) but it was not meant to be.  Matusz is only 30 but I don’t see anything in his numbers to warrant consideration as a reclamation project.  It’s sad to see.  I am sure that someone will take a flyer but I don’t think the Yankees should.

Speaking of former Yankees, Robinson Cano has been placed on the disabled list for the first time since 2006 when he was still with the Yankees.  He injured his right quadriceps last week and had been expected to return yesterday.  The Seattle Mariners opted to place Cano on the 10-Day DL retroactive to May 13th.  While Cano had a great season in 2016 and was off to a good start in 2017, he is 34 and the risk of injury continues to increase.  Proof the Yankees were smart not to pay Cano $240 million for ten years (as much as I would have liked to have seen the player wear pinstripes throughout his career with an eventual Robinson Cano Day that he’ll never see at Yankee Stadium).  I do wish Cano a quick return to good health and that he is able to return to the Mariners lineup on May 23rd.

Credit:  MLB.com

Congratulations to Mike Ford.  The first base prospect was recently promoted from the AA Trenton Thunder to the AAA Scranton/Wilkes-Barre RailRiders and he had a big game yesterday to help defeat the Pawtucket Red Sox, 7-2.  Ford was 2-for-3 with a two run shot off Henry Owens, a pitcher the Yankees are familiar with at the big league level.  Tyler Webb took the win in relief of Bryan Mitchell with 3 1/3 innings of scoreless work and six K’s.  Webb, returned to the Yankees this spring after being taken by the Pittsburgh Pirates in the Rule 5 Draft, should get a shot in the Yankees bullpen sometime this year if a spot on the 40-man roster opens up.  

Meanwhile in AA, Gleyber Torres hit a tie-breaking game-winning two run homer in the eighth inning yesterday as the Thunder beat the New Hampshire Fisher Cats, 4-2.  Just another day at the office for the supremely talented infielder.  

Have a great Wednesday!  I hope it’s another royally wonderful day for Yankees fans!

The State of the Curious…

With the impending returns of shortstop Didi Gregorius and catcher Gary Sanchez within the next few weeks, the Yankees have some decisions to make.  Granted, Kyle Higashioka goes back down to AAA to become the starting catcher for the Scranton/Wilkes-Barre RailRiders, retaining his seat at the table (the 40-Man roster).  But for Pete Kozma, the future is less certain.

There’s no reason to protect Kozma on the 40-man roster.  It is possible that the Yankees stash him at AAA when Didi returns for insurance, but, realistically, why?  As I type this post, shortstop Tyler Wade is the top hitter for the RailRiders with a .386 batting average (17-for-44 in 11 games).  He has also stolen 6 bags.  With Ronald Torreyes moving back to the super-sub role, Wade represents the greatest shortstop insurance going forward.  Therefore, if it’s my call, Kozma is DFA’d upon Didi’s return.  If he clears waivers, assign him to AAA.  If he is claimed, so be it.  It’s no great loss.  The downside to assigning Kozma to AAA is the fight for playing time with Wade.  So, I’d probably just cut him outright and send him on his way.

The decision then becomes what to do with the 40-man roster spot vacated by Kozma.  It probably doesn’t make sense to give it to Wade (not yet anyway).  I could see the Yankees giving it to a pitcher like Tyler Webb to be part of the bullpen shuttle throughout the summer.  The harder decisions about the 40-man roster will have to be made after the season and before the Rule 5 Draft in December.  For now, the roster decisions are about who can help us today, not tomorrow. 

I know that we didn’t quite make it, but there is something about a ten-game winning streak that I’ve always loved.  It cures all ails.  It is so fun to go more than a week without feeling the agony of defeat.  The Yankees missed making it ten-in-a-row by two games but it was still a fun ride.  The sad part is that with a few clutch hits here and there and no error by the aforementioned Kozma, the Yankees probably could have extended the win streak to nine.  But as they say, that’s the way the ball bounces, so I guess I’ll just have to look forward to the next streak to achieve my self-fulfilling objective for ten. 

Coming into the season, I really had my doubts about Luis Severino and his ability to be a quality major league starter.  I was starting to feel that his stuff played best in the bullpen.  At a quick glance, his stats do not tell the story.  He is 1-1 with a 4.05 ERA in three starts.  It sounds very pedestrian, but then you look at 20 innings pitched (an average of nearly 7 innings per game) with 27 strikeouts.  More impressive is his 0.80 WHIP (14 hits and 2 walks).  He is currently behind only five pitchers for the lowest WHIP (walks plus hits per innings pitched).  The only pitchers with better WHIP are Ervin Santana of the Minnesota Twins (0.45), James Paxton of the Seattle Mariners (0.57), Dallas Keuchel of the Houston Astros (0.62), Clayton Kershaw of the Los Angeles Dodgers (0.70), and Chris Sale of the Boston Red Sox (0.74).  Severino is in very good company.  I know it’s just three starts but this is a significant improvement over last year and it does appear to be sustainable.

Credit:  Noah K Murray/USA TODAY Sports

Thanks to the improved performances of both Severino and Michael Pineda, there is reason for optimism with every starter in the rotation.  This also supports that the Yankees could have another extended winning streak coming their way in the not-so-distant future.  Good times at Yankee Stadium. 

The Yankees signed LHP Nestor Oronel, 20, to a minor league deal.  The Pittsburgh Pirates released Oronel after three years in March.  My first thought was that Oronel is just fodder for minor league starting pitching depth.  But being a lefty and only 20 years of age (he doesn’t turn 21 until December) leads me to believe that he might be viewed as a reclamation project.  

Gleyber Torres has been placed on the 7-day Minor League DL with his shoulder injury.  Manager Joe Girardi said on Wednesday that he just has some inflammation in the shoulder and shouldn’t be down too long.  So, it does sound as though the team (and Torres) dodged a bullet, and he will be back in the Trenton Thunder lineup soon.

The Yankees returned to the win column with Wednesday night’s win over the Chicago White Sox, 9-1.  Masahiro Tanaka didn’t have his best stuff, but he still went 7 innings, giving up only a single run.  He struck out 6 and walked two while scattering six hits.  The Yankees need this guy to be hitting on all cylinders, and he’s getting closer.  It was a great offensive night as every starter had a hit, and the team was homer happy with four.  

The Yankees only allowed former closer David Robertson to get one save opportunity as they took the three game set from the White Sox, two games to one.  At 10-5, the Yankees are percentage points behind the Baltimore Orioles (9-4).  They lead the third place Boston Red Sox by a game, although the Red Sox can cut the distance by a 1/2 game with a win today (an off day for the Yankees).  Since the Orioles also play today, the Yankees could either be 1/2 game behind the O’s at the end of the day or they could be the AL East Leaders.  

Friday, the Yankees head to Pittsburgh for a weekend series with the Pirates.  Like the White Sox, the Pirates feature a few former Yankees.  Catchers Francisco Cervelli and Chris Stewart, and Pitchers Ivan Nova and Wade LeBlanc.  You could loosely throw Gerrit Cole into the category although he was never officially a Yankee.  He was a former top draft pick who never signed.   Although Nova wears Andy Pettitte’s number (46) for Pittsburgh, his first start against his former team will pit him against his old number (47) when he matches up with Jordan Montgomery on Sunday.  

The Yankees deserve this day off.  They’ve exceeded expectations and have been a very exciting team to watch.  It’s amazing to think it’s only going to get better when Gary Sanchez and Didi Gregorius are back and Greg Bird is hitting like we know he can.

Have a great Thursday!  One in row, Baby!  Let’s make it two on Friday!

To Trade A Gardner Is To Believe In Tomorrow…

Credit:  Presswire

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!

Warp Speed to Opening Day…

At the conclusion of the World Series, the off-season seems like it will be so long.  We wait for the opening of free agency, then the winter meetings  which generally brings a short frenzy with signings and trades.  Then we wait through the holidays, and go through a quiet January.  Finally, around Valentine’s Day, we are able to get our baseball fix as training camps begin to open.

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Then, we blink, and here we are a week away from Opening Day.  Cubs fans are probably still trying to recover from the hangovers, but the rest of us are anxious to begin the new year and at this point, everyone is optimistic.

The Yankees’ off-season was relatively quiet.  The major move, aside from the return of Aroldis Chapman, was to sign free agent Matt Holliday, now the team’s starting DH.  Matt’s days in the field, at age 37, are over but the bat remains effective and so do the leadership abilities.  I’ve been very pleased this spring with the impact that Matt has had on the younger players, most notably Aaron Judge.  With only a one-year contract, it is possible that this is Matt’s only year in pinstripes.  Time will tell, but given what I’ve seen so far, I hope the team is able to find a way to bring him back next year.

Matt Holliday

Credit:  Matt Rourke, AP

I am not sure what can be said about Masahiro Tanaka other than he’s been amazing this spring.  Through five starts and 18 2/3 innings, he’s only surrendered six hits while striking out 22 to go with a sparkling 0.00 ERA.  I realize that spring stats do not mean a great deal but Tanaka appears to be setting himself up for a career year.  Of course that carries good news/bad news as Tanaka can opt out of his contract at the end of the year, but that’s something to worry about after the season.  For now, let’s just enjoy what could be a tremendous year for the young right-hander.

Manager Joe Girardi has announced that CC Sabathia, rather than Michael Pineda, will slot in the rotation behind Tanaka.  It was something of a surprise given CC was fighting for the fifth spot last spring.  Girardi gave the ‘right-left’right’ strategy as his logic for the move, putting the left-handed Sabathia between two righties.  He also referenced Sabathia’s numbers last year…3.91 ERA in 30 starts.  His record was only 9-12 but wins and losses are deceiving for pitchers as they are dependent upon run support.

I am not sure how Pineda will react to the move back to third in the rotation.  If it motivates him to overcome his inconsistency, I am all for it.  The starting rotation needs a solid year from Pineda if it is going to be successful.

The fight for the last two spots in the rotation has been interesting.  At the start of training camp, I felt the favorites were Luis Severino and Bryan Mitchell.  Severino started strong and then has struggled with starts recently (although he did throw three hitless innings in relief yesterday).  Mitchell has been good but not great.  Chad Green has probably pitched the best among the contenders but the dark horse that is emerging is tall left-hander Jordan Montgomery.  Luis Cessa, one of the early hopefuls, has already been sent to minor league camp for re-assignment.  At 6’6” with an ability to pitch inside, I am very intrigued by Montgomery. He has proven himself at both the AA and AAA levels, and I think the 24-year-old is ready for the major leagues.

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Credit:  Reinhold Matay, USA TODAY Sports

In the right field competition, I think Aaron Judge has done enough to hold off Aaron Hicks.  The stats are fairly comparable.  Judge is batting .300 (15-for-50) with 2 HR and 4 RBI.  Although he is still among the leaders in strikeouts (with 12), he is striking out less than he did last season in the Bronx.  Hicks is batting .279 (12-for-43), also with 2 HR and 4 RBI.  Hicks has struck out seven times.  Judge has also displayed a terrific arm in right.  For me, Judge has done what he needs to this spring and deserves the opportunity to take right field.

Greg Bird has been named the starting first baseman to the surprise of no one.  Bird currently carries a .432 BA (19-for-44) with 6 HR and 11 RBI.  I don’t think there was any chance that Chris Carter was going to beat out Bird, but Carter has been almost non-existent during training camp.  He is currently batting .136 (6-for-44) which is actually up from where it was a few days ago.  He only has one home run to go with 22 strikeouts.  I think there’s a very strong argument for why Carter should be DFA’d when Tyler Austin returns from his foot injury.

With the final days of training camp winding down, the greatest uncertainty lies with shortstop.  Didi Gregorius is out for the next month after suffering the shoulder sprain in the World Baseball Classic, so the question is who will replace Didi at short.  The most logical move would be to slide Starlin Castro to short, and use a platoon of Ronald Torreyes and Rob Refsnyder at second.  For me, it’s not ideal because Castro is still learning the nuances of second base and it should remain his focus.  The only problem is there are no other true shortstops on the 40-man roster.  Prospect Tyler Wade is the most advanced shortstop in the system and he’s probably my favorite for the temporary replacement but he’s young (only 22).  He’s batting .342 in Grapefruit League action (13-for-38) but doesn’t have much power.  Other possibilites are non-roster invitees Pete Kozma and Ruben Tejada.  Didi’s bat will certainly be missed while he is away.

With the latest minor league re-assignments, the Yankees have 39 players remaining in camp.  This includes the injured players (Tyler Austin and Didi Gregorius).  With Opening Day just a week away, there will be more cuts this week as the Yankees pare down to 25 for the trip to St Petersburg to face the Tampa Bay Rays on April 2nd.

This has been a fun spring.  The Yankees have the best record in the Grapefruit League (or the Cactus League for that matter).  I know that spring stats mean nothing when the regular season starts but winning is always fun.  We’ve seen some great stuff from the talented super-prospects in the organization like Gleyber Torres and James Kaprielian.  Although they won’t be heading north with the big league club, they’ve given us glimpses of their incredible futures.  Gary Sanchez has continued to impress and Greg Bird has shown that last year’s shoulder injury is no longer an issue.  I am anxious and ready for the season to start.  The Cubs are yesterday’s news.