Tagged: Jake Cave

Giancarlo Stanton vs the Miami Marlins…

Looking Forward to Today’s Game…

Today’s Spring Game featuring the Miami Marlins at Steinbrenner Field is one I’ve been looking forward to all Spring. When the Yankees traveled to Jupiter, FL last Sunday, Giancarlo Stanton didn’t make the trip and the game was not televised. That’s not the case today. Stanton is in the lineup and the game will be on TV (YES Network).

For the game starting at 1:05 pm Eastern, here is the scheduled lineup:

Brett Gardner, CF

Aaron Judge, RF

Greg Bird, 1B

Giancarlo Stanton, LF

Gary Sanchez, C

Didi Gregorius, SS

Neil Walker, 2B

Brandon Drury, 3B

Tyler Austin, DH

The starting pitcher will be Luis Severino. The starter for the Marlins will be a familiar face (Caleb Smith). Another former Yankee (Garrett Cooper) will be the starting right fielder for the Fish. It’s always good to see the great Don Mattingly even if he is tasked to lead the Stanton/Ozuna/Yelich-less Marlins for CEO Derek Jeter.

It would be fun to see Stanton go yard against his old club today. It would have been nice to see old friend Starlin Castro but as with most veterans, he did not make the road trip. Nevertheless, as noted above, there is no shortage of former Yankees in the park.

By Order of Aaron Boone…

The Yankees announced the order of the starting rotation on Saturday. Luis Severino gets the Opening Day assignment at Rogers Centre in Toronto, Canada on March 29th against the Blue Jays. I thought the honor would go to Masahiro Tanaka as the recognized ace of the staff but there’s no disputing that Sevy was the Yankees’ best starter in 2017 when he finished third in the AL Cy Young voting behind elite starters Corey Kluber and Chris Sale.

1.  Luis Severino

2.  Masahiro Tanaka

3.  CC Sabathia

4.  Sonny Gray

5.  Jordan Montgomery

At first, I was surprised when I saw that Gray was penciled in behind Sabathia but it does make sense to break up Sabathia and Montgomery. You can also insert short jokes about Sonny Gray here while stating he gives hitters a different look between the two left-handed six-foot-sixers. Admittedly, I am a little concerned about Sabathia pitching on the turf at Rogers Centre with his balky knee. Boone had better get the bullpen up early in that game.

Jordan Montgomery draws the assignment for the home opener at Yankee Stadium on Monday, April 2nd against the Tampa Bay Rays.

Congratulations to Severino for his anointment as the King of the Pitching staff. I suspect it will be many years before he is ready to relinquish the crown. Hard to believe the guy is only 24 years old. Unless the Yankees sign Clayton Kershaw next off-season (very unlikely), Severino should have an extended reign.

Photo Credit: USA TODAY Sports (Kim Klement)

The Rule 5 Draft Revisited…

2017 Rule 5 Draft – Major League Phase – Yankees Lost

Round 1, 7th Selection:  RHP Anyelo Gomez, Atlanta Braves

Round 1, 9th Selection:  LHP Nestor Cortes, Baltimore Orioles

Round 1, 11th Selection:  1B Mike Ford, Seattle Mariners

Round 3, 18th Selection:  RHP Jose Mesa, Jr, Baltimore Orioles

Last year, the Yankees lost catcher Luis Torrens when he stuck on the MLB roster for the San Diego Padres all season long despite batting .163/.243/.203 with .446 OPS. He didn’t have any home runs and only 7 RBI’s in 56 games and 139 plate appearances. The Padres can now send the 21-year-old to the Minors for more seasoning with no fear of losing him.

As prospects continue to season in the Yankees farm system, there will be more significant losses in the years ahead. You cannot protect everyone on the 40-man roster when they become Rule 5 eligible and this figures to get more challenging over the course of the next few seasons.

Anyelo Gomez, Braves

Spring Stats:

1-1, 10.80 ERA, 7 games, 8.1 innings pitched, 10 hits, 10 runs (earned), 4 BB, 6 SO’s

Gomez was having a good Spring for the Braves until he got hammered by the Toronto Blue Jays last Tuesday, giving up four runs over two innings. However, MLB.com is still projecting that he’ll make the Braves Opening Day roster despite the hiccup. Expectations are low for the Braves this year so they can afford to take their chances with the talented young right-hander.

Photo Credit: Atlanta Braves

Nestor Cortes, Jr, Orioles

Spring Stats:

0-1, 4.35 ERA, 4 games (3 starts), 10.1 innings pitched, 12 hits, 5 runs (earned), 3 BB, 9 SO’s

Cortes is getting a long look in O’s camp as he is second on the team with most innings pitched. Given the dearth of pitching for the Orioles, it is a certainty that he’ll break camp with the big league club. He is under consideration for the rotation and even if he is not successful, he’ll be moved to the bullpen for now. I am not expecting Cortes to come back.

Photo Credit: Getty Images (Rob Carr)

Mike Ford, Mariners

Spring Stats:

.182/.321/.341, .662 OPS, 20 games, 44 at-bats, 4 doubles, 1 HR, 8 RBI, 8 walks

When training camp first opened and Ford started strong for the Mariners, I thought he was a lock to make the Mariners (especially when it was announced that new starting first baseman Ryon Healy had surgery to remove a bone spur in his right hand). But Ford has cooled off and Healy is not expected to miss much time, if any. Daniel Vogelbach (.400, 4 HR, 10 RBI) has had a much stronger Spring than Ford and appears to be the leader for first base behind Healy. If Healy starts the season on the DL, Ford could make the Opening Day roster but I doubt he sticks for the entire season. Healy feels that he will be ready for Opening Day. He made his first appearance of the Spring yesterday against the Los Angeles Angels and was 1-for-3 with a RBI double. More than likely, Ford will be back to take his place as the starting first baseman for the Scranton/Wilkes-Barre RailRiders.

Photo Credit: The Seattle Times (Ken Lambert)

Jose Mesa, Jr, Orioles

Spring Stats:

3-1, 5.87 ERA, 5 games, 7.2 innings pitched, 10 hits, 5 runs (earned), 7 BB, 5 SO’s

Looking a pure numbers, it would seem unlikely that Mesa would stick on the Orioles roster but then again, we’re talking about the Orioles and their underwhelming cast of pitchers. While I think it’s unlikely they would carry two Rule 5 pitchers on the active roster, it is a strong possibility that both Cortes and Mesa will make the Opening Day roster. Whether Mesa remains there all season remains to be seen.

Of these players, I think Ford and Mesa are the players most likely to be returned to the Yankees. Dependent upon performance (or maybe not as Luis Torrens showed), I think that Gomez and Cortes are gone for good.

Photo Credit: AP (Chris O’Meara)

2017 Rule 5 Draft – Triple A Phase -Yankees Lost

These players were lost and will not be returning to the Yankees organization.

Round 1, 18th Selection:  RHP Yancarlos Baez, Minnesota Twins

Round 2, 32nd Selection:  C Sharif Othman, Miami Marlins

I guess it’s a good problem to have when your team has so many strong prospects that good players are lost (“the cup runneth over”) but it’s still painful to see these guys that we’ve cared for thrive in other uniforms with no return for the Yankees. I know, that’s a bit of a ‘prospect-hugging’ statement. Seriously, I do hope they find MLB success. I just hope it isn’t against the Yankees.

Finally…

As we begin the last full week before the start of the regular season on Thursday, March 29th, the answers for the Yankees’ Opening Day Roster seem to be taking shape. However, the one question I am already tired of is ‘will Jacoby Ellsbury begin the season on the DL?’ Of course he will…next question. Regardless of whether or not Ellsbury is ready, I don’t really care. The guy has become an afterthought for me. If he helps the team this year, fantastic. But let’s just say that I am keeping expectations low…very low. A good player “when on the field”, but that’s not a bet I’d want to make. He becomes a greater injury risk with each passing year and he was already the King of the DL dating back to his Red Sox days (with no intended offense to Troy Tulowitzki who certainly has every right to lay claim to the throne).

Danny Espinosa was 4-for-4 with a RBI in his Spring debut with the Toronto Blue Jays yesterday. Where was that bat during his few weeks with the Yankees this month? That’s the right way to make a good impression for his new club. The odds are against him making the Blue Jays’ MLB roster to open the season but days like yesterday certainly help. Jake Cave’s debut for the Minnesota Twins didn’t go so well. He started in center field and was 0-for-3 with a strikeout in a game that saw former Yankee Phil Hughes get hammered for 9 runs (5 earned) in 3 1/3 innings.

It will soon be game time for Yankees-Marlins. Let’s Go Yankees!

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They Some Kind of Shut Us Down…

Photo Credit: Houston Chronicle (Karen Warren)

Astros win ALCS Rematch…

The headline of this post are Aaron Boone’s words, not mine.

I preface this by saying I know Spring games mean absolutely nothing. But I’d be lying if I didn’t say my fear of the Houston Astros is their starting pitching. I think the Yankees’ offense is equal to the World Champions. Some argue the Yankees are better while other put the Astros on top. Either way, both offenses will be among the very best in the game. Now, the starting pitching, at least in my opinion, is not quite so close.

Yesterday’s matchup featured the number five starters for both teams. For the Yankees, Jordan Montgomery gave up two solo home runs. Meanwhile, Houston’s Lance McCullers, Jr held the Yankees hitless until Miguel Andujar’s lead-off single in the bottom of the fifth inning. The Astros limited the Yankees to two hits, winning the game 2-0. The game felt like a microcosm of the difference between the Yankees and the Astros. Of course I didn’t actually get to “see” the game since it was not televised and I am not in Tampa. Manager Aaron Boone felt that Montgomery was “crisper” than earlier Spring starts.  Giving up two runs is not the end of the World and in fact it fits within the definition of a quality start (outside of the shortened number of innings for Spring starts).  A good start by Monty but a dominant one by the son of a former Yankee.

The top of the Yankees order (Brett Gardner, Giancarlo Stanton, Gary Sanchez, and Didi Gregorius) went 0-for-12, with five strikeouts.

I am not going to fret over a meaningless Spring game but it is the back end of the starting rotation that concerns me when you compare the Yankees to the Astros. Don’t get me wrong, I like Jordan Montgomery but seriously I’d rather have McCullers, Jr. The difference maker is the depth. The Astros have Brad Peacock and Colin McHugh, two very capable pitchers in reserve, if there are any injuries in the rotation. The Yankees have Luis Cessa and Domingo German. The top young prospects like Chance Adams and Justus Sheffield have shown they are not quite ready to be a force at the MLB level, now, even if we know they eventually will.

Maybe I am unnecessarily concerned about the rotation and the young guys will rise to the challenge if the chips are on the line. But if it was my team, I’d be trying to find a way to sign Alex Cobb, a ‘tried and true’ AL East pitcher.

Is Tyler Austin bound for Scranton?…

I was wrong yesterday when I said that Ronald Torreyes might be the one most adversely impacted by Neil Walker’s presence on the roster.  After hearing Boone’s words yesterday, it sounds like the guy who should be most concerned about making the Opening Day roster is Tyler Austin. Boonie sounds like he is comfortable with a second base tandem of Tyler Wade and Walker, finding regular at-bats for both, and indicated Walker is the one who could provide relief for Greg Bird at first base.

Photo Credit: USA TODAY Sports (Kim Klement)

I can’t really put my finger on it, but it has never seemed like the Yankees have fully embraced Austin despite his big hits. I know that health is part of it, but it just doesn’t seem like they want him on the MLB roster. I hope I am reading that wrong and Austin turns out to be a major contributor for the team this year.

Cave finds a home…

I have always liked Jake Cave but I recognized there was simply no room for the talented outfielder. I remember how excited he was to participate in Spring Training with the Cincinnati Reds as a Rule 5 draftee a couple of years ago. He started the Spring off strongly and was drawing raves, but he cooled off and was subsequently returned to the Yankees.

Photo Credit: Getty Images (Rob Tringali)

After Cave was designated for assignment earlier in the week to make room for Neil Walker, the Yankees shipped the 25-year-old outfielder to the Minnesota Twins for young Dominican RHP Luis Gil, 19. Gil was not rated among the Twins top prospects and has yet to play outside of the Dominican leagues. He continues the Yankees trend of stockpiling young power arms with tremendous upside. Cave was inserted at #26 for the best Twins prospects by MLB.com, ahead of Twins outfielder and New York native Zack Granite.

In Minnesota, Cave is expected to help at the Major League Level or provide depth at Triple A. For his sake, I hope it’s the former. The Twins made statements yesterday they’ve been interested in Cave since last year’s Jaime Garcia trade. They noticed the power surge and it is something that they want to “keep on track” in the words of Twins manager Paul Molitor.

We wish Cave the very best as he continues his journey to reach the Major Leagues.

Speaking of finding jobs…

The Toronto Blue Jays have signed infielder Danny Espinosa, recently released by the Yankees, to a minor league contract with an invite to camp. Espinosa will have a very short time to prove that he belongs on the field when the Blue Jays open Rogers Centre on March 29th against Espinosa’s old club. The best way for an infielder to play in the Major Leagues? Find the team that employs Troy Tulowitzki. Tulo owns the DL in a way that only Jacoby Ellsbury understands.

The odds are probably against Espinosa this late in March so he’ll probably toil in Triple A until injuries open up big league opportunities.

Well, it’s Saturday. For most of us, that’s a day off. Nothing better than sitting back to watch a Yankees game on a lazy afternoon. Fortunately for us, today’s Spring game between the Yankees and the Detroit Tigers in Lakeland, Florida (1 pm Eastern) will be televised. Masahiro Tanaka on the mound and Estevan Florial in center field. It should be a fun day!

Photo Credit: Associated Press

Go Yankees!

The Legend of Number 14 Lives On…

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Photo Credit: Getty Images (Jim McIsaac)

Walker, New York Yankee…

When I heard the news the Yankees had signed free agent infielder Neil Walker, I admit it did not excite me. I had thought Walker might be an infield possibility before the Yankees acquired Brandon Drury from the Arizona Diamondbacks (in fact, TGP’s Bryan Van Dusen called it out as a move the Yankees should make before Drury found himself in Tampa with our favorite team). But once Drury arrived, I didn’t give it another thought.

 NeilWalker-Big
Credit: Pittsburgh Magazine

The reaction among the Yankees Universe has been very mixed. Countless fans feel that Walker blocks the very talented rookies, Gleyber Torres and Miguel Andujar. I don’t look at it that way. For a one-year contract at $4 million plus incentives, this is not a marriage. It is a dinner date at McDonald’s. Walker may break camp as the starting second baseman but there’s no doubt that Gleyber Torres will be the man when he is ready. Gleyber needs the additional time at Triple A as he continues his comeback from Tommy John surgery on his non-throwing arm. He has shown this Spring that regardless of his MLB service time clock, he would greatly benefit from the added time in Scranton/Wilkes-Barre. Torres is going to be a star and there is nothing that Neil Walker can do about it.

Brandon Drury is the starting third baseman. With no offense to Miguel Andujar, Drury was not acquired to be a backup. The Yankees see too much potential in the player and feel that they can convert a number of those Drury doubles into home runs. The Yankees gave up two talented prospects in second baseman Nick Solak and pitcher Taylor Widener. At that price, they weren’t paying to get Drury as a part-time player. Perhaps Andujar goes to Pennsylvania and crushes Triple A pitching. There’s nothing wrong with two players fighting for one position. It’s a very good problem to have. For now, Walker’s arrival most likely means that Andujar will be joining Torres in Scranton. But like Torres, Andujar will be back.  When he proves his defensive game has caught up with his bat, only a major trade for a starting pitcher could keep Andujar from pulling on the pinstripes. Walker certainly won’t stop that from happening.

I felt and probably still feel that Tyler Wade will see significant starts at second base. Worst case, I can see him in a platoon role with Walker at the position until young Gleyber arrives to take control. Best case, he breaks camp as the starter with Walker on the bench.

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To me, the potential losers with the Walker signing are utilityman Ronald Torreyes and non-roster first baseman Adam Lind. Torreyes may make the Opening Day roster. In fact, I think it’s almost a certainty. But, when Torres and Andujar arrive in the Bronx with their minor league assignments completed, Torreyes is the potential odd man out. I thought Lind might have a chance to make the roster since the Yankees, for whatever reason, do not seem enamored with Tyler Austin. But with Walker’s ability to play first base (not to mention Drury too), Austin brings more to the team than Lind does as a right-handed first baseman (nice complement to the lefty-swinging Greg Bird) who can also play corner outfield. Lind is strictly 1B/DH. But Austin’s spot is not a given as the Yankees could opt for Billy McKinney if Jacoby Ellsbury and Clint Frazier are unable to start the season. McKinney has limited experience at first base, but the presence of Walker helps offset his inexperience.

To make room for Walker, the Yankees designated outfielder Jake Cave for assignment and released non-roster invitee Danny Espinosa. Shortstop Kyle Holder was also re-assigned to minor league camp. I’ve always liked Cave but he was squeezed by players ahead of him like Frazier and McKinney and was feeling the heat from hard charging younger prospects. Cave was in camp with the Cincinnati Reds a couple of years ago as a Rule 5 draftee.  He opened some eyes although he proved he wasn’t quite ready for the Show. Hopefully, GM Brian Cashman is able to flip Cave for a younger prospect rather than simply letting him go for nothing. I was never excited about the addition of Espinosa. He was a decent player for the Washington Nationals a few years ago, but he wasn’t going to scare anyone with his bat. His poor reaction when the Nats acquired outfielder Adam Eaton which pushed star Trea Turner from the outfield to shortstop, displacing Espinosa, always bothered me. So, for me, I’ll gladly take Walker over Espinosa. The switch-hitter still has some pop left in his bat, and he is a very versatile dude (health-permitting).

Walker was assigned Starlin Castro’s number 14 (most recently worn by Espinosa). For me, the number is forever associated with the great “Sweet Lou” Pinella.

 1080917684_1575
Photo Credit: UPI

By now, I don’t think any Yankees fans are expecting the team to add a starting pitcher before the start of the season. My early favorites for trade deadline candidates are Chris Archer and Danny Duffy. The Los Angeles Dodgers have long been interested in Archer, so I’d probably rate Duffy as the most likely choice if he can be pried from the Kansas City Royals. Personal preference, no doubt, is Archer. The health and performance of the existing starting five will obviously dictate what the Yankees do in July. It’s early, but I’ve been impressed with young right-hander Domingo German and would like to see him become the rotation’s sixth man in place of Luis Cessa.

Good times. I am ready for the season to start.

Go Yankees!

The Spring Game That Does Matter…

Photo Credit: Associated Press (David Goldman)

The Rivalry Continues…

Today is the first meeting of the Boston Red Sox and your New York Yankees. Of course, it’s just a meaningless exhibition game but there’s no doubt all of us, without exception, want to beat the hated Red Sox. We’ll have to do it without the Big Boppers as neither Aaron Judge nor Giancarlo Stanton will provide a preview of what they intend to do to Red Sox pitching.

Here is the scheduled lineup for today’s game at JetBlue Park in Fort Myers, FL:

Aaron Hicks, CF

Greg Bird, 1B

Brandon Drury, 3B

Didi Gregorius, SS

Gleyber Torres, 2B

Danny Espinosa, DH

Austin Romine, C

Billy McKinney, RF

Jake Cave, LF

The starting pitcher will be Chance Adams, making his second Spring start.

Photo Credit: USA TODAY Sports (Kim Klement)

For the Red Sox, they won’t be giving the Yankees an advance look at J.D. Martinez as he, like Judge and Stanton, will take the bench. Pitching for the Red Sox will be left-hander Brian Johnson who is the favorite to win the fifth spot in the Red Sox rotation at the start of the year, thanks to the injuries to Steven Wright and Eduardo Rodriguez.

The Yankees signed free agent first baseman Adam Lind on Friday to a minor league deal with an invitation to training camp. The deal includes an opt-out at the end of training camp if he is not on the Major League roster. The backup first base job appears to be Tyler Austin’s to lose. It’s hard to envision Lind making the team unless the Yankees do not trust Austin as the primary support for Greg Bird (or if Austin gets hurts, which is within the realm of possibility). Lind did have surprisingly good numbers for the Washington Nationals last year when he batted .303/.362/.513 with .875 OPS in 301 plate appearances. Four of his 14 home runs were pinch-hits. He is a career .272/.330/.465 (.795 OPS) hitter with 200 home runs. Lind, 34, came up in the Toronto Blue Jays organization and played for them through the 2014 season. Since then, he’s had a new team each year. Milwaukee Brewers (2015), Seattle Mariners (2016) and the Nationals (2017).

Photo Credit: Associated Press (Alex Brandon)

Austin answered Lind’s signing with a walk-off home run to beat the Atlanta Braves on Friday afternoon. Apparently he borrowed a page from Miguel Andujar’s playbook for rules of engagement with the competition at your position.

My guess is that Austin makes the team and Lind opts out to sign a MLB deal with another team to be their backup first baseman. I don’t see the Austin to Triple A and Lind on the Opening Day roster scenario. One or the other will be part of the organization and the other will not, in my opinion.

Jacoby Ellsbury has a nagging injury. Great. The DL King has been diagnosed with a mild  right oblique strain. If it was Ellsbury’s intent to beat out Aaron Hicks for the starting center field job, he’s not off to a good start. Honestly, the Yankees should bite the bullet after the season is over. There will be $47.3 million left on his contract, but at that point, it will be time to cut bait. It’s too bad that Brian Cashman was unable to find a taker, even with the willingness to pay a significant portion of what’s left on Ellsbury’s deal. I agree with Cashman’s assessment that Ellsbury remains an above-average player when healthy but those last two words become more dicey with each passing year.

Photo Credit: Getty Images (Tom Szczerbowski)

Ellsbury’s “backup”, outfielder Clint Frazier, is struggling with his own problems. He continues to be troubled by headaches associated with a concussion he suffered earlier in the Spring. The Yankees had been trying to increase his workload but Thursday’s workout led to sending Frazier for a MRI on Friday. He whacked his head against the wall in left field at LECOM Park in Bradenton, FL last Saturday against the Pittsburgh Pirates. Hopefully this is not a setback and Frazier continues his path toward good health.  I know I’d rather go to war with Red Thunder over Ellsbury.

It creates a potential opening for either Jake Cave or Billy McKinney to make noise although it is likely that Ellsbury will be ready for Opening Day.

I try not to get too caught up in Spring stats but I have to admit that, physically, Jordan Montgomery looks great. He doesn’t quite have the ‘Gumby’ look from last year and his face seems more mature. He pitched three innings yesterday in the win over the Braves, striking out five batters. He gave up two hits, but did not allow any runs.  All 22 of his pitches were in the strike zone. The 25-year-old appears capable of showing that he is not the starting rotation’s weakest link.

Now, let’s beat those friggin’ Red Sox. Go Yankees!

Disliking Off-Season Inactivity…

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.

Dueling Airwaves…

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!

Winning Gregoriusly…

Credit:  Getty Images

Yankees 8, Orioles 2…

Didi Gregorius was the man on the field and with the bat on Friday night as the Yankees took down the Baltimore Orioles for the second consecutive day.  His brilliant defensive play and 4 RBI’s helped Joe Girardi achieve his 900th  career victory as Yankees manager.  Of course, it didn’t hurt having the great Luis Severino on the mound.

Credit:  Frank Franklin II-Associated Press

The Yankees scored first with a run in the bottom of the 1st inning.  Brett Gardner led off with a double to center.  Gary Sanchez lined a one-out single to left, moving Gardy to third.  A sacrifice fly to right by Didi Gregorius scored the speedy Gardner and the Yankees had the early 1-0 lead.

The Orioles got to Luis Severino in the top of the 2nd for really the only weakness in Sevy’s start.  Chris Davis took a two-out walk, and Wellington Castillo followed with a shot to the right field porch to put the O’s in front, 2-1.

Chase Headley, starting at third base when Todd Frazier was scratched due to back stiffness, reached base to start the bottom of the 2nd with a bunt toward third.  After Jacoby Ellsbury flied out to center, Matt Holliday lined a single to left, moving Headley to second.  Greg Bird hit a grounder to first that was mishandled by Chris Davis (ball went through his legs into right field), allowing Bird to reach base.  Headley scored and Holliday advanced to third.  The game was tied at 2.  The Yankees were unable to bring Holliday home when O’s starter Gabriel Ynoa struck out both Brett Gardner and Aaron Judge to get out of the inning.

In the bottom of the 5th, Aaron Judge walked with one out.  Buck Showalter went to the pen, replacing Ynoa with reliever Miguel Castro.  With Gary Sanchez at bat, Judge stole second with a headfirst slide.  El Gary subsequently grounded out with a short bouncer at the plate, but Didi Gregorius didn’t miss the opportunity with a home run to right center to give the Yankees a 4-2 lead.  

Credit:  Brad Penner-USA TODAY Sports

Greg Bird led off the bottom of the 7th inning with a walk.  Brett Gardner hit a grounder between first and second but the O’s were unable to force Bird or get a double play when second baseman Jonathan Schoop misplayed the ball (bounced off his glove). The runners were safe at first and second. Showalter pulled Castro and brought in Mychal Givens.  Givens walked Judge to load the bases.  Gary Sanchez hit a single to right, a fly ball that dropped in front of Mark Trumbo.  Bird scored.  Not that I am complaining but I thought it was a lazy defensive effort by Trumbo.  Oh well, the Yankees had increased their lead to 5-2.  Showalter went to the pen again, this time bringing in former Yankees reliever Richard Bleier.  Didi Gregorius hit his second sacrifice fly of the game, a fly to center, scoring Gardner who slid into home just under the great outfield throw.  After Starlin Castro lined out to short, Chase Headley singled to right, scoring Judge.  The throw in from the outfield easily tagged Sanchez out at third for the final out, but the Yankees had increased their lead to 7-2.

Luis Severino was cruising.  He pitched as strongly in the 8th inning as he had earlier in the game, and he finished his day with three up, three down.  

Greg Bird added a run in the bottom of the 8th when he hit his 4th home run of the year, a solo shot to right into the second deck off Bleier.  It was good to see Bird get good results even if the run was unnecessary at that point.  Hopefully he’s on the path to showing us the hitter he was in Spring Training.  If he gets hot, the Yankees offense will be very hard to stop.

Credit:  Paul J Bereswill-NY Post

David Robertson took over for Severino in the top of the 9th.  He started off by walking Manny Machado.  A wild pitch allowed Machado to move to second.  D-Rob was able to retire Jonathan Schoop and Trey Mancini, but another wild pitch moved Machado to third.  But there he would stay as Mark Trumbo flied out to left to end the game.  The Yankees win!

The Yankees (81-66) were unable to make up any ground on the Boston Red Sox and still trail by three games.  It looked like the Yanks might move to within two games when the Tampa Bay Rays had a 5-2 lead in the top of the 9th with closer Alex Colome on the mound, but the Sox scored 3 runs to tie it and eventually won 13-6 in 15 innings.  Although he was not the loser, it was a former Yankee on the mound (Chase Whitley) when Red Sox offense blew the flood gates open.  The Yankees did increase their Wild Card lead over the Minnesota Twins to four games.  The Twins lost a close 4-3 game to the Toronto Blue Jays.  The Yanks have a six-game advantage over the third place WC team, the Los Angeles Angels.

Luis Severino is clearly the guy I want on the mound if the Yankees must settle for the Wild Card.  He pitched eight strong innings, allowing only three hits and the two runs on the 2nd inning homer.  He walked one and struck out seven.  As strong as he was pitching, he could have easily finished with a complete game.  But at 95 pitches and a six-run lead, it was better to let D-Rob close it out.  Sevy (13-6) lowered his season ERA to 2.93 with the performance.  Nice job, Sevy!

Didi Gregorius was clearly the hitting star with the home run and 4 RBI’s, but Chase Headley was 3-for-4 with a RBI and a run scored.  He did record an out on one of those hits when he tried, unsuccessfully, to stretch a single to a double.  Gary Sanchez chipped in two hits and a RBI.  Even though he didn’t get a hit, Aaron Judge was still in the mix with two runs scored courtesy of the walks he took.  Greg Bird, Brett Gardner and others…this was a great team win!

Credit:  Frank Franklin II-Associated Press

Odds & Ends…

Sadly, the Scranton/Wilkes-Barre RailRiders lost the Governor’s Cup Finals to the Durham Bulls.  The Rays’ top farm team took the championship with a Game Four victory to win the series, three games to one.  The RailRiders tried to claw back into the game but fell short, losing 6-4.  Brady Lail was the starter and loser.  

Now that the RailRiders’ season is over, I wonder if we’ll see the addition of guys like Jake Cave and Miguel Andujar to the MLB roster.  I really do not expect to see Chance Adams since the Yankees have no pressure to add him to the 40-man roster this year.  Cave, on the other hand, must be protected or he’ll most likely be lost in the Rule 5 Draft.  Erik Kratz, I know you’re batting 1.000 (2-for-2) but I think your taxi is here waiting for you.  I hope you enjoyed the show.

Credit:  Jason Farmer, Staff Photographer/Times-Tribune

It was great season for the Yankees farm teams even if the top two clubs were unable to deliver championships.  They are gaining the knowledge and experience that will help them deliver World Series championships for the big league team.  The bigger picture.  

Have a great Saturday!  Let’s take the series with a win today.  Go Yankees!

Missing the Pitches…

Credit:  Corey Sipkin-NY Post

Red Sox 5, Yankees 1…


Sunday’s loss was a microcosm of the season.  In the end, it was about missing the pitches as the Yankees dropped the finale and the series with the Boston Red Sox.


It’s been a difficult season for last year’s AL Cy Young Award winner, Rick Porcello, but on Sunday, he gave a glimpse why he won the award last year.  He held the Yankees to three hits over six innings, and three Red Sox relievers including closer Craig Kimbrel no-hit them the rest of the way.  

Credit:  Winslow Townson-USA TODAY Sports

Boston scored first with two runs in the bottom of the 2nd.  Inevitably, it would be the only runs they would need.  Jackie Bradley, Jr’s two-out triple to the center field wall off Yankees starter Sonny Gray scored Xander Bogaerts and Sandy Leon.  The Red Sox had taken a 2-0 lead.


Meanwhile, the Yankees had runners in scoring position from the second through fourth innings but could not capitalize.  Finally, in the top of the 5th inning, Brett Gardner lined a shot just inside of the Pesky Pole in right to pull the Yankees within one run, 2-1.  But it was the last hit the Yankees would get off Porcello and the Red Sox bullpen.  

Credit:  Winslow Townson-USA TODAY Sports

In the bottom of the 6th, the Red Sox added a run against Yankees reliever Adam Warren. Mitch Moreland reached on a single to left, and moved to second on a wild pitch by Warren that went through Gary Sanchez’s legs.  A ground out by Sandy Leon moved Moreland to third.  Jackie Bradley, Jr didn’t waste the opportunity like so many Yankee hitters had done.  His single to right that dropped in front of Aaron Judge scored Moreland and Boston increased their lead to 3-1. Aroldis Chapman was brought in to replace Warren (the earliest he has appeared in a game as Yankee) and he struck out Brock Holt to end the inning.

Credit:  Adam Glanzman-Getty Images

The Red Sox added two more runs in the bottom of the 8th.  Tommy Kahnle started the inning in relief of Chapman.  He couldn’t find the strike zone at all with the first batter, Xander Bogaerts, issuing a free pass on four pitches.  Mitch Moreland doubled to left off the Green Monster and the Sox had runners at second and third.  Sandy Leon lined a double to the right field corner, both Bogaerts and Moreland scored.  5-1, Red Sox.  Kahnle was pulled and replaced by Caleb Smith.  A walk and a single loaded the bases with no outs, but Smith was able to retire the next three Red Sox batters to leave the runners stranded.


It didn’t really matter.  The Yankees weren’t going to win this game.  Craig Kimbrel came on in the 9th and set the Yankees down in order, the last two by strikeouts.  


If the Yankees were looking to make a statement in this series, they failed to do it.  Boston exhibited superior bullpen strength and their hitters, excluding Saturday, didn’t miss their pitches.  The Yankees (66-57) slipped back to five games behind the Red Sox with the loss.  The Tampa Bay Rays’ 3-0 win, coupled with a loss by the Baltimore Orioles, moved them back into third place in the AL East.  They are 6 1/2 games behind the Yankees.  The O’s lost, 5-4, to the Los Angeles Angels.  The Angels picked up a game on the Yankees in the Wild Card standings and trail the Yanks by 2 1/2 games for the top position.  The Minnesota Twins, who pummeled the Arizona Diamondbacks 12-5, are also just 2 1/2 games behind.


Sonny Gray (7-8) took the loss.  He pitched five innings on a high pitch count (106), allowing seven hits and two runs.  He walked two and did not strike anybody out.  Run support has not been his friend with the Yankees.  

Credit:  Steven Senne-Associated Press

If Aroldis Chapman can piece together more outings like his, his name might be back in play for the closer’s role.  Adam Warren and Tommy Kahnle have some things to work on.  


Brett Gardner, with two hits (a single and a homer), and Chase Headley, with one (a double), were the only Yankees with a hit.  Everyone else took an 0-fer.  


A win today would have been huge.  But it was not to be.  The Yankees need to re-group during today’s off-day and come out ready to play on Tuesday.  There will be one more shot at the Red Sox.  They’ll come to the Bronx for four games over Labor Day Weekend.  The AL East is not dead…just wounded.  There’s time to heal and show the Red Sox that the Pinstripes are back.  

Next Up:  The Detroit Tigers at Comerica Park, Detroit, MI…

The Yankees get a much-needed day off today, hanging around the Motor City, before starting a three-game series with the Tigers on Tuesday.

TUESDAY

Yankees:  Masahiro Tanaka (8-10, 4.92 ERA)

Tigers:  Matthew Boyd (5-6, 5.70 ERA)

WEDNESDAY

Yankees:  Jaime Garcia (1-1, 5.64 ERA)

Tigers:  Buck Farmer (2-1, 6.62 ERA)

THURSDAY

Yankees:  Luis Severino (10-5, 3.18 ERA)

Tigers:  Jordan Zimmermann (7-10, 5.87 ERA)

The Yankees need to win these games.  Anything less than two out of three will be a major disappointment.  The Tigers stopped a six-game winning streak by the Los Angeles Dodgers on Sunday with a convincing 6-1 victory behind Justin Verlander (making perhaps his final start in a Tigers uniform although I think he stays). A team with nothing to play for has nothing to lose.  The Yankees had better be prepared. After the series, the Yankees return home for Player’s Weekend to take on the Wild Card contending Seattle Mariners and the player named “Don’t You Know”.  

Odds & Ends…

Greg Bird had the day off on Sunday for his rehab assignment with Triple A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre, but Jake Cave and Miguel Andujar did not as they powered the RailRiders to a 3-0 win over the Durham Bulls.  Cave was 2-for-4 with a RBI and a run scored, while Andujar was 3-for-4, with a double and a home run, for 2 RBI’s.  I am looking forward to seeing these guys in a few weeks when MLB rosters expand.  It was a nice pitching performance by Domingo German (5-2), who shut out the Bulls for seven innings on four hits.  He walked two and struck out nine.  Giovanny Gallegos, with two innings of scoreless relief, got the save.

In anticipation of Masahiro Tanaka’s impending activation from the DL, the Yankees have optioned RHP Bryan Mitchell to Scranton/Wilkes-Barre.

Have a great Monday!  A day off…a day closer to the return of good health for Starlin Castro, Greg Bird and others.  Go Yankees!