Thoughts While We Wait for the Press Conference…
Aaron John Boone officially takes the reins as the 33rd Manager of the New York Yankees today at Noon ET. I continue to see so many opinions, both strongly tilted toward the pros and the cons. Being upset or taking a strong position that Boone is not the right guy serves no purpose. Regardless of how you feel, Boone will be the guy delivering the lineup card on Opening Day, March 29th, at Rogers Centre in Toronto, Canada. There is nothing that you can do or say that will change Boone from taking that walk. So, it is in our best interests to unite and support the next manager of the Yankees.
|Credit: Sporting News Archive/Getty Images|
Personally, I am excited to see what Boone can do. Admittedly, I wasn’t crazy about the lack of managerial or coaching experience but Boone has so many other positive attributes. We’ve heard about his unique ability to relate with everyone, his sense of humor, his immersion into Major League Baseball as a youngster due to his grandfather, Ray Boone, and father, Bob Boone, both Major Leaguers. Boone has said that he has prepared for 44 years for this job. Boone’s predecessor, Joe Girardi, won a Manager of the Year Award in his first season as a manager with no coaching or managing experience (2006 with the then-Florida Marlins). Granted, he was fired after the season, but still, there’s no reason that Boone can’t reach the same accomplishments (excluding the end of the year firing).
The immediate decisions that face Boone is the composition of his coaching staff. Larry Rothschild is returning as the team’s Pitching Coach but so far, that’s the only official announcement. The bench coach will be a critical hire and needs to be someone with strong managerial experience. The Yankees lost very strong in-house candidates when Josh Paul, Rob Thomson, and Al Pedrique left to join the coaching staffs of other MLB teams. Eric Wedge’s name has been thrown out as a possibility but so far, there have been no strong indications who might take the role. Yankees minor league coaches Reggie Willits and Carlos Mendoza have been cited as possibilities for the staff but neither has the experience to serve as bench coach. I am expecting the return of Alan Cockrell, Hitting Coach, and Marcus Thames, Assistant Hitting Coach, although they could just as easily walk away. It’s been mentioned that Mike Harkey, the bullpen coach and a Girardi buddy, could return. That one does surprise me a little since he was a Girardi friend and hire. Tony Pena is someone the Yankees should bring back. He’s certainly qualified to serve as bench coach despite his years as the first base coach.
Perhaps Boone addresses the coaching staff during today’s press conference or the staff is assembled over the next few weeks. Either way, I will be watching and listening with interest.
Al Pedrique’s departure (to join the Oakland A’s as first base coach) creates an opening at Triple A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre. A replacement has not been named but I could easily see the elevation of High A-Tampa Yankees Manager Jay Bell to the position. I really hated to see Pedrique go. I felt he would have been the ideal bench coach…an experienced manager who has strong relationships with the younger Yankees. The A’s denied the Yankees permission to talk to their manager, Bob Melvin, but then stole one of the Yankees’ best coaches. Almost immediately, the A’s fans talked about the excitement of a coach who could help mold Dustin Fowler, Jorge Mateo and James Kaprielian based on his past experiences with them. Ouch! He could have been doing that with the Baby Bombers.
|Credit: Jason Farmer, Scranton Times-Tribune|
It was sad to see Rob Thomson take a lateral position with the Philadelphia Phillies, leaving the Yankees after 28 years in the organization. He will bring a wealth of experience and knowledge for Phillies rookie manager Gabe Kapler. Thomson must like sitting next to very physically-fit managers. It’s too bad he won’t be there for Aaron Boone but it’s probably hard to stay with an organization when you are passed over for a job you felt should be yours.
It’s a tough time to fill a coaching staff considering most other teams have finalized their respective staffs. I keep half-expecting Bret Boone to added. No idea what qualifications he has other than being a former Major Leaguer but like Aaron, he obviously grew up in a baseball family. His recent jokes about sexual harassment probably nixed the possibility he’d join his brother’s team.
|Credit: Alan Berner, The Seattle Times|
The Yankees have cash to spend on the international market ($3.5 million) with the rejection by Shohei Otani but so far, the Yankees have been idle while Billy Eppler and the Los Angeles Angels have been very aggressive. Yesterday, the Angels signed two former Braves prospects including the top-rated shortstop Kevin Maitan and another shortstop, Livan Soto. The Yankees need to bring in more catching prospects but the Phillies grabbed former Braves catching prospect Abrahan Gutierrez.
Baseball activity seems to be picking up in general. The minor free agent signings are picking up so there should be major movement with the free agent market over the coming days. The Baseball Winter Meetings start Sunday in Orlando, Florida so next week should be a wild ride. Clint Frazier’s latest tweet (@clintfrazier) was “my cat has been staring at my shower drain for three straight hours and i’m freaking out”. We really need more excitement with the Yankees!
Today should be a fun day. Welcome (back) to the Bronx, Aaron Boone! Go Yankees!
I am not sure who to blame this one on. Michael Pineda was awful at the beginning and Dellin Betances was awful near the end. In between, the Yankees tried to make it a game but once again, the pitching staff gave away a freebie to the opponent as the Yankees fell to the Toronto Blue Jays.
The Blue Jays picked up their first run in the top of the 1st inning, aided by an error. Jose Bautista led off the game with a single. After Russell Martin flied out to center, Justin Smoak singled. An error by Jacoby Ellsbury, he bobbled Smoak’s hit, allowed Bautista to score and Smoak to move to second.
The second inning saw the Blue Jays pick up a couple more hits but they were unable to score, thanks primarily to a double play that erased the first runner. Pineda wasn’t so lucky in the 3rd inning. Jose Bautista walked to open the inning. After Russell Martin hit a grounder into a fielder’s choice that erased Bautista at second, Justin Smoak hit a two-run shot to right. 3-0, Blue Jays. Then, Kendrys Morales followed Smoak with a solo shot to center, 4-0 Jays.
Kevin Pillar led off the 4th inning with a homer to increase the Jays’ lead to 5-0. The next batter, Ryan Goins, followed with a single which mercifully ended Pineda’s day. 3 innings, 9 hits, 5 runs, 3 HR’s. If you want to know how you can ensure that you will not be part of the 2018 Yankees, just watch Pineda.
Credit: John Munson-NJ Advance Media for NJ.com
The Yankees valiantly fought back. Aaron Judge got the party started with a two-run shot in the 4th inning. The home run, Judge’s 29th of the year, tied the Yankees record for most home runs in a season by a rookie held by Joe DiMaggio. In the 5th inning, Jacoby Ellsbury opened with a single which brought Ji-Man Choi, making his Yankees debut in this game, to the plate. Choi, bringing the cry of “Ji-Man is the He-Man! Oh boy, oh Choi!” from radio announcer John Sterling, homered to right, bringing the Yankees within a run, 5-4.
Credit: John Munson-NJ Advance Media for NJ.com
Austin Romine and Brett Gardner then walked, and Aaron Judge singled to load the bases. With two outs, Didi Gregorius doubled to right, bringing home both Romine and Gardner, as the Yankees captured their first lead of the game, 6-5.
The Yankees remained in the lead until the 7th inning. With Chad Green on the mound and working his second inning of relief, former Yankee Russell Martin led off with a solo shot to right center. Game tied. Green was able to man up after that and exited the 7th with no further damage.
On to the 8th inning and Dellin Betances…
Back when I played softball, I used to get mad when the pitcher for our team would drink about 3 or 4 beers before the game and then struggle immensely while trying to find the strike zone, walking in runs. Watching Dellin Betances pitch the 8th was kind of like that. No offense but Betances is not an All-Star pitcher at this moment in time. He walked the first three batters he faced (Miguel Montero, Kevin Pillar, and Ryan Goins) to load the bases. He somehow found the strike zone for Jose Bautista but then walked Russell Martin to allow Montero to score the go-ahead (and eventual winning) run. Adam Warren had to come in to clean up the mess.
Credit: John Munson-NJ Advance Media for NJ.com
The Yankees did not have another rally in them. The stage was set when Brett Gardner singled with two outs in the bottom of the 9th against Jays closer Roberto Osuna which brought Aaron Judge to the plate representing the tying and go-ahead runs. A home run in that spot would have set up Judge as one of the greatest heroes of the new Yankee Stadium. Unfortunately, that will have to wait for another day. Judge went down swinging and the Yankees were pinned for yet another loss. Betances (3-4) took the loss but based on that performance they should have given him 3 or 4 losses instead of just 1. The last Yankees pitcher to walk four batters in a third of an inning or less was Edwar Ramirez in 2007. Tyler Clippard included, this was one of the worst Yankee bullpen appearances of the year. Adam Warren was perfect in his 1 2/3 innings of work. I guess he missed the memo about mandatory bullpen implosions while he was on the DL.
Credit: Kathy Willens-AP
Some losses just make me mad. This was one of them. It’s as if the Yankees pitchers from Masahiro Tanaka to Tyler Clippard to Betances are passing the “I Suck!” stick with Aroldis Chapman auditioning for the next turn with the baton. It doesn’t help when you also have Luis Severino and Michael Pineda fighting for a turn.
The Yankees (44-39) continue their downward spiral. Fortunately, they didn’t lose any ground in the AL East as the Texas Rangers finally stopped the Boston Red Sox, 8-2. The Yanks continue to trail the Sox by four games. The Tampa Bay Rays lost to the Chicago Cubs, 7-3, so they remain 1.5 games behind the Yankees.
Next Up: Milwaukee Brewers at Yankee Stadium
The Yankees will entertain the Milwaukee Brewers for the final series before the All-Star Break. The Brewers are fresh off a three-game sweep of the Baltimore Orioles in Milwaukee. Here are the scheduled pitching match-ups:
Brewers: Junior Guerra (1-3, 4.93 ERA)
Yankees: Jordan Montgomery (6-4, 3.62 ERA)
Brewers: Brent Suter (1-1, 3.00 ERA)
Yankees: Luis Severino (5-4, 3.52 ERA)
Brewers: Jimmy Nelson (7-4, 3.20 ERA)
Yankees: Masahiro Tanaka (7-7, 5.25 ERA)
Hopefully, Aaron Judge and Gary Sanchez can get in some good “practice” for Monday’s Home Run Derby. With a four-game set in Boston to start the second half, Dellin Betances needs to find himself in this series.
Odds & Ends…
The Yankees have reportedly added a few more international prospects. Dominican Republic: Stanley Rosario, OF; Miguel Marte, SS; Albert Vega, RHP; Nelson Medina, CF; Ezequiel Duran, SS; and Jose Martinez, 3B. Venezuela: Engelbert Ascanio, C. Previously, it was reported the Yankees have signed Everson Pereira, an outfielder from Venezuela (ranked fourth on BA’s list of top international prospects); Roberto Chirinos, a shortstop also from Venezuela; and Anthony Garcia, an outfielder from the Dominican Republic. There is some question about which position Chirinos will play and it is possible that he may be switched to catcher. The Yankees are also expected to sign Ronny Rojas, a shortstop from the Dominican Republic, when he turns 16 on August 23rd. Gary Sanchez signed as a 16-year-old in 2009 which shows how long it will be before we potentially see any of these guys at the Major League level.
Although CC Sabathia lost on the 4th of July, the starting pitchers for the Yankees’ top three farm teams celebrated the holiday with masterful pitching as they combined for 20 innings of scoreless ball. Nice job, Baby Bombers!
AAA-Scranton/Wilkes-Barre (7-0 win over the Buffalo Bisons):
Caleb Smith (8-0), 5.0 IP, 2 H, 0 ER/R, 1 BB, 6 SO
AA-Trenton Thunder (2-0 win over the Reading Fightin Phils)
Brody Koerner (1-0), 8.0 IP, 9 H, 0 ER/R, 1 BB, 1 SO
High A-Tampa Yankees (2-1 win over the Fort Myers Miracle)
Ian Clarkin (no decision), 7.0 IP, 4 H, 0 ER/R, 0 BB, 5 SO
The Yankees have released LHP Tommy Layne, who had been pitching for Triple A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre after being designated for assignment earlier in the season. I am okay with this move. Make way for younger, talented arms.
Have a great Thursday! I think all of us could stand a day guaranteed not to include a Yankees loss. Tomorrow is a new day. Let’s Go Yankees!