In two weeks, the doors of Yankee Stadium will open…
Ready or not, Opening Day is a scant fourteen days away. On Thursday, March 28th, at 1:05 pm EDT, Masahiro Tanaka will fire the first official 2019 pitch at Yankee Stadium against the Baltimore Orioles and we’ll be off to the races for 162 games PLUS (heavy emphasis on the ‘plus’). The Orioles have announced RHP Alex Cobb will get the Opening Day nod over Dylan Bundy and Andrew Cashner.
Cobb signed with Baltimore as a free agent in late March last year and it showed with disastrous April results. He lost his first three starts with 13.11 ERA and 2.83 WHIP. A 6.03 K/9 pitcher for the year, he was unable to strike anyone out in two of those first three games. With the benefit of a full training camp, Cobb should be more prepared for his second season in Birdland. Steamer projects a 9-13 record in 31 starts with 4.89 ERA (4.50 xFIP) and 1.6 fWAR. Hopefully we won’t have to wait long to hear Michael Kay’s first “There it goes! See ya!” of the new season. I don’t think any of the Orioles pitchers strike fear in the hearts of the Yankees, and it should be a good opportunity to get the season started on the right foot.
It was reported this week the MLB Players Association and MLB have agreed upon the elimination of the waiver trading deadline in August which makes the July non-waivers deadline a hard date for player trades. This year’s trading deadline is Wednesday, July 31st. In theory, it should spark more trade activity in July than in years past and will force teams to make earlier decisions about whether they are buyers and sellers. I am probably most concerned about potential injuries in August and the need to fill unplanned vacancies from within the organization. Depth at certain positions can be weak so it will force organizations to work harder to cover depth at all positions in the off-season which I suppose is an intended consequence. The change is effective this year.
Another change is the expansion of roster size from 25 to 26 players in 2020 with a maximum of 13 pitchers. On September 1st of 2020, the expansion of rosters will be reduced from 40 to 28 players and no more than 14 pitchers. At face value, I am glad to see the addition of a bench spot for another position player. The transition of the game to deeper bullpens has left bench roles perilously thin. Hopefully the addition of a player will help keep guys fresher for the long season. While the change is not effective this year, the potential 26th men at the present time are Clint Frazier and the expected loser of the first base competition, Greg Bird.
The new MLB-MLBPA deal is expected to be announced today.
Per ESPN’s Jeff Passan, other changes include the three-batter minimum for pitchers although a start of a new inning would allow a pitching substitution. I think back a couple of years and wonder what it would have been like if the Yankees had been forced to use Tyler Clippard for at least three consecutive batters on days when he simply didn’t have it. I can see a pitcher coming into a game with an inability to throw strikes and suddenly the bases are loaded…or worse. I get the pace of play implications but I guess the traditionalist in me would like to see the game decisions in the hands of the managers. Silly me. There’s also a new $1 million bonus for the winner of the All-Star Home Run Derby. Makes me wonder if it will influence a lower paid guy like Aaron Judge to participate. I know Judge makes most of his money through endorsements right now but I am sure that a way to pick up an extra mil is enticing for some.
It was a bummer that last night’s Spring Training game against the Philadelphia Phillies was not televised. Although the game ended in a 5-5 tie, it was Bryce Harper’s first Phillies start against the Yankees. If for no other reason, I am looking forward to the regular season so that every game is televised. Harper was booed unmercifully by the Yankee fans at Steinbrenner Field or so they say since I didn’t actually see it. I don’t really get it. It’s not Bryce’s fault that he is not a Yankee. The Yankees chose not to pursue him in free agency despite the wishes of the fans. Bryce is on record saying the Yankees never reached out to him despite his childhood love for the Pinstripes. If Bryce historically crushed Yankee pitching, then maybe that’s a reason to boo him but he has been largely ineffective in his short body of work facing the Yankees. I would have liked for the Yankees to sign Harper but they didn’t and we must move on. I know I am very excited to see what Year 2 brings for Giancarlo Stanton. Regardless of whether you preferred Harper over Stanton, I think Stanton is going to be more relaxed this year and will more closely resemble the player that dominated baseball in 2017 for the Miami Marlins.
Back to the first base competition, I thought it was funny when it was reported yesterday that Aaron Boone was wearing a Luke Voit t-shirt in the clubhouse. Boone also commented that Voit batting cleanup (as he did last night) could carry into the season, adding that he could see Voit anywhere from third to sixth in the order. In other words, it is Greg Bird and not Voit who should be making living accommodations in the Scranton/Wilkes-Barre area.
Jose Canseco, shut up! Your fifteen minutes of fame came and went. Let it go, Cheater. Alex Rodriguez owes you nothing.
|Credit: Getty Images|
For those of you who are New York Jets fans, my apologies for the Anthony Barr situation but I am glad it worked out the way it did. Granted, Barr, a linebacker, is not a superstar level player but I like his role in Minnesota’s defense. I’ve been a lifelong Vikings fan. I think Barr is capable of so much more and I hope the Vikings use Barr as an edge rusher like the Jets intended to do. For those of you not following, Barr had agreed to a free agent deal with the Jets on Monday, only to renege the next morning and subsequently sign an extension to stay in Minneapolis. I had been dreading NFL free agency, fearful of losing Barr. The Vikings had done a good job of signing their young core players despite the massive overpay for QB Kirk Cousins, but Barr had remained unsigned. With salary cap implications, it appeared Barr would be wearing a different uniform this Fall. For a few hours earlier this week, the Jets fans thought he’d be wearing hunter green and white. For all of Minnesota’s free agents, Barr was the one I wanted to keep. Jets fans were unhappy about his change of heart but I was truly grateful. It kind of reminded me of the time David Wells had a change of heart after agreeing to a two-year deal with the Arizona Diamondbacks and signed with the Yankees on a napkin. There may not have been a napkin involved with Barr but the impact is the same. Glad he’s on my team.
As always, Go Yankees!
GLOVES, BATS, BALLS AND STEROIDS…
Unfortunately, it’s not exactly in that order. I was very hurt and disappointed when I first heard about Alex Rodriguez on Saturday and I decided in my mind what he needed to do. But I’ll admit what I expected him to do and what I thought he would do were two entirely different scenarios. I did think that he’d come off smugly, trying to play the cameras. I realize that many are taking issues with the words Alex said during his confession, but from my perspective, he was talking from the heart. I really could not have asked for more. Unlike others, I do not feel that Alex’s achievements should be stricken from the record. There are many others who have cheated and weren’t caught, and the names of the other 103 players from the list of those who tested positive in 2003 are still unknown. There were no penalties for what Alex did in 2001-2003, and assuming that he is telling the truth about no subsequent drug use, he has continued to put up numbers to justify the size of his contract.
I am still very distrustful of Joe Canseco. It does bother me that the entire A-Rod situation has given Canseco more credibility. “I think I have the ear of the nation now,” Canseco said Tuesday. “I think everyone realizes that I have not in any way, shape or form tried to create smoke and mirrors like Major League Baseball has and the players have. I have been excrutiatingly honest about what’s going on in baseball”. Why do I keep getting the visual of Tom Cruise?
I am in full agreement with Lance Berkman’s take on the steroid issue. “Nobody’s going to be believed anymore. I can sit here and crow and say I’ve never done steroids or never done anything illegal from a standpoint of performance enhancing drugs, but who’s going to believe me? The point’s well made, because we’re all guilty by association. One side of me is glad that these guys are getting outed”. Lance, please be sure to tell Miggy hello for me…
Karen Warren Houston Chronicle
Derek Jeter is justifiably ready to talk about baseball and only baseball. As he indicated in Tampa, “I’m not addressing Alex’s situation until everybody’s here. I’ll do it the first day over there” (Steinbrenner Field for the first full squad workout on February 18th). Jeter also stated “If you’ve got baseball questions, I’ll do that…I don’t want to talk to you guys today and tomorrow three more people. It’s better to get everyone together”. DJ, I bet you’re looking forward to giving A-Rod a big hug when you see him, huh?
Lastly, I also agree with Joe Girardi’s take. I think I saw one blog that predicted an 18 HR, 45 BRI season from A-Rod due to the controversy/distraction. But as Joe so aptly put it “I would probably be worried if he had never been through a controversy before…”. Alex will have a rough couple of weeks when he reports to camp, and while he is playing in the WBC, but I think the controversy will die down as the season gets underway and Alex will put up his usual numbers. Joe also lent his support to A-Rod by saying, “I felt he told the truth and we have to move on. It’s going to take some time. It’s going to take some time healing. But we’ll get through this as a team.” As the saying goes, “What doesn’t kill us, makes us stronger”…
David Goldman The New York Times
STANLEY CUP PREVIEW?
A great win by the San Jose Sharks on Tuesday night. The Boston Bruins were 26-0-2 this season when leading after two periods. With Boston ahead 2-1 after two periods last night, the Sharks scored four unanswered goals in the final period (including three in the span of 6:16 minutes by Patrick Marleau, Milan Michalek and Joe Thornton). Thornton, facing the Bruins for just the second time since the November 2005 trade that brought him to San Jose, said “We just turned it on, and usually when we turn it on, teams can’t handle us”.
AP Photo/Elise Amendola
By the way, a very nice drop pass from Dan Boyle to Michalek who beat Boston goalie Tim Thomas high on the glove side.
The Western Conference leading Sharks, with 81 points, trail the Eastern Conference leading Bruins by four points. Hopefully, these two teams will have the opportunity to meet again for the Stanley Cup championship…